So. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Michaela says to me in work, "Did you hear about that Harvard professor who got arrested at his own house the other day?" And I was all, "No!" So I went and looked it up, and then verbally abused her for not telling me that it wasn't just any Harvard professor*, it was Henry Louis Gates Jr.
*However, although Harvard professors used to be a dime a dozen, unfortunately the university's endowment recently plummeted from 40 hillion jillion dollars to just one hillion jillion, so if you start seeing fewer Harvard professors around, that's why.
Let me ask you this: When you heard about this (even if just now was when you first learned of it), what was your initial reaction? Was it:
1) Wow, what did he do?
2) Wow, those cops really screwed the pooch.
or possibly even
3) Sounds like a conspiracy of Harvard administrators to cut their staff without actually having to "resize" in public.
This is a survey, so please answer in the comments. Also, this is my first survey ever, so if you don't answer in the comments, my feelings will be hurt. And I'll no longer post embarrassing pictures of myself for your viewing pleasure.
My first response was actually "Wow, who is he?" and THEN "Wow, what did he do?"
My first response was: Holy Sh*t... this is NOT going to end well. For anybody.
Here's a good roundup of the he-said/he-said:
Sounds like a typical case of two guys who won't back down. Gates is inclined to believe the worst of a white policeman's motives and the cop has been trained never to back down on the street.
So, just like two gorillas or coyotes staring at each other, if one doesn't drop their eyes and assume the submissive stance, they have to fight.
It's sad to have to describe the actiions of two supposedly thinking people in terms of instinctive animal behavior, though.
I do have to give the cop the dumb award for actually putting him under arrest though. Until that point he was going to wind up with a bunch of reports to write and a bitch-out from his supervisor, but probably would not have gotten into much actual trouble. Now he will probably experience death by attorney fees.
Yeah, you can pretty much ditto me on all the answers above.
Put me down as 4) Who?
I only wish I was clever enough to think of #3 as a relevant response--good one.
First thought...Dharmma Initiative is taking over the world! Sorry, huge LOST fan here, so I literally lol'ed when I saw your post title.
As for the rest, I don't know enough about it yet to give a proper opinion, though I really like JJ Daddy-O's response.
We have three observations about the Harvard professor incident:
1. We find it interesting that the fact that this was the professor's home was evidently not established early on way before the dispute escalated;
2. We find it fascinating that the versions of two members of society, who most would ordinarily view as responsible and honest citizens (this obviously does not include politicians), would vary so dramatically from a factual point of view.
3. Finally, considering that the reading and viewing public were not present at the scene (and thus have no first hand knowledge), and that there is no video tape to our knowledge of the sequence of events and what was said, how so many have formed conclusions, and made assumptions, about who did what and who was wrong.
There are some things which Professor Gates might have considered upon the arrival of the police, no matter how incensed he may have been.
I personally thought, "How ridiculous- I would hope that anyone of any color would have been stopped trying to break into a house which the officer probably did not think was actually his...." -Julee
Well, I have to side with common sense. Apparently, the professor is such a friendly sort that his neighbor called in the break in - beacuse the neighbor did not know who this man was. Also, if a police officer shows up, wouldn't ommon sense be to not antagonize the person with a gun? Please, do not poke a stick at a snake and ask it, "do you know who I am???" It is hard to understand where the professor was coming from, other than he appeared ready for a fight and certainly was ready to play the race card - immediately. Maybe tenure, the promise of a job for life leaves one feeling a little too entitled...
"of course the cops showed up, and of course [insert name of 75% of the population -- without regard to color size shape etc] make the wrong choice to not cooperate."
p.s. I did like the comment about how the guy is so friendly that even his neighbors didn't know he lived there. I wonder if that's really true...
Thanks to all for your responses! My take on it was this: Always cooperate with the police, particularly when they're asking for basic identity-verifying information. While it may have been some retaliatory trickery on the part of the arresting officer to get HLG Jr. out of the house so he could cuff him, it is never a good idea to try and humiliate/belittle a cop in public (there were onlookers). As Noah has told me several times, police officers are symbols just as much as they're individuals, and during the process of an investigation is not the best time to verbally attack the symbol.
As Noah also noted, yelling "I'll talk to yo mamma outside!" doesn't seem a befitting response by a Harvard intellectual. Sounds like somebody had his panties in a twist before the cops even arrived.
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