The latest charge: Crowley “confronted” Gates
Last week I criticized Robert VerBruggen of NRO’s Phi Beta Cons blog for writing, “when you’re arrested for breaking into your own home, don’t you get a little leeway?”, and I criticized him a second time for not admitting his mistake (see this and this). In a subsequent exchange he wrote back:
The statement itself is edited—“arrested” is struck through, and replaced by “confronted by police”; also, there is a note at the bottom pointing out the correction (and also pointing out that the correct fact is in the news story just above my comment—I typed the sentence quickly and didn’t catch the problem when I read back through).I replied:
But your change of words is not correct either. Gates was not “confronted” by police. Gates created the confrontation. An officer came to his door and asked to speak with him about a reported break-in. Instead of cooperating and saying, “Yes, officer, can I help you?”, as any normal, law-abiding person would have done, he instantly assumed that the cop was a white racist who was out to harm him, as he clearly explains in his interview at The Root, and he went ballistic against the officer. There are no excuses for his behavior, yet you are still making them.Mr. VerBruggen replied:
If you’d like to argue that it’s illegal in Massachusetts/Cambridge to treat a police officer disrespectfully, feel free to do so—just cite the relevant law, and explain why he wasn’t arrested for that instead of “disorderly conduct.” (Or, point to the part in the disorderly conduct statute that gives police officers a special right to demand not only compliance in executing their duties, but also freedom from “insults.”)I replied:
Unbelievable that you describe a police officer properly performing his duties as “confronting” someone, as though Officer Crowley, when he responded to a reported break-in at Gates’s house, saw a man inside the house, and asked him for ID, was doing something wrong—so wrong that it justified Gates’s subsequent behavior. Thanks for being so clear about where you’re coming from. You’re no better than Gates and Obama. In fact you’re worse than Obama. Even he never said such an off the planet thing. Let’s just disband the nation’s police forces, why don’t we, since that’s where your thinking leads.
James P. writes;
“I’m not seeing how approaching someone on his property and demanding he show ID does not constitute “confronting” said person.”LA replies:
Where have you been? Police have to be SENSITIVE to renowned black “scholars.” And they’re supposed to know that they’re renowned black scholars on first sight. They have to bow and scrape and say,Hannon writes:
VerBruggen uses the words “demanding” and “confront” in a blatantly loaded context. Each of these words has a range of meaning, and I think he clearly implies the worst intent in each case. He does not come right out and say directly that the officer was “hostile” or “aggressive” or even “confrontational,” but these words accurately reflect his implied meaning.LA replies:
Yes. And what is most indicative of VerBruggen’s real beliefs is that after he told me about his change of the word “arrested” to “confronted by police” in his blog entry, and after I said to him that “confronted” was also false and objectionable, he reaffirmed in even stronger terms his use of “confront”:Leonard D. writes:
I think you’re being too hard on Mr. VerBruggen. “Confront” is a perfectly apt word to describe what police do routinely: they challenge a person found in suspicious circumstances.LA replies:
You are ignoring the plain meaning of VerBruggen’s comment. He was not describing Crowley’s behavior as a routine and thus legitimate police action. He specifically intended to say that Crowley was doing something improper and disturbing, which in turn justified Gates’s response.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 27, 2009 10:21 AM | Send