Thursday, July 23, 2009

*I Wish I'd Noticed that First

Since Barack Obama weighed in on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, we thought it was worthwhile to do a close reading of the law and the arrest report to see just how stupid the Cambridge Police Department was.

This account is based on the police report, a statement from Gates' lawyer, interviews by Gates given after the arrest, and a radio interview that the arresting officer gave this morning.

Even though I believe the police can justify a disorderly conduct charge based on the flimsiest evidence, now would be a good time for the Cambridge police department and the arresting officer to settle this matter. Apologizing to Gates, as he has requested, would be a good beginning to the process. Just throw out the usual “if my actions or words offended anyone, I'm sorry,” and then start adding zeros to the settlement figure until you hit a number that really makes you feel regret. Then add two more. That should put things behind you.

Now, your friends and colleagues are all going to try to convince you that you're right and that with the right representation, you can walk away from this a winner. That's their jobs. They're your friends and colleagues. It's your job to ignore them because (a) the president just shifted the preponderance-of-evidence standard significantly to the plaintiff side of the table and (b) fortune (bad fortune, mind you) has placed you center stage in its latest racial drama, Acting Stupidly, and given you the role of “Officer JIM CROWley.”*

As they say on Law and Order, make the deal.


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