Friday, July 24, 2009

Pride, Foolishness & Utter Idiocy

I'm having a difficult time blogging at present, but since I have to get myself motivated to do my weekly wordzzle and there are a couple of things bugging me, I thought I'd share a funny Daily Show clip and a quick thought on the controversy about the arrest of Professor Gates.

For those living in caves who have missed this sad silly story gone mega... A prominent Harvard Professor returned home from a trip and was having some trouble getting into his house. The door was jammed or something. A neighbor saw two black men with back packs and reported that someone was breaking into a house. By the time the police arrived the professor had gotten into his home and was able to show proof that he was in fact the legitimate resident. From what I can tell he was pretty cranky with the officer who was just trying to do his job. So both men got all testosteroned up and the professor was rude and accused the cop of persecuting him because he was a black man and the cop arrested him for disorderly conduct... in his own home which he had not invaded. Now both men are demanding apologies... and as far as I can tell, both probably should make them. Alas, a reporter at the end of President Obama's Health Care press conference asked him about the situation. He prefaced his comments by saying that the Professor was a friend of his and that he didn't have all the facts, but it seemed that the police had acted "stupidly" to arrest someone in his own home after he had shown them proof that he was in fact the rightful resident and not a felon breaking in. He went on to talk about the historical issue of blacks and Latinos being profiled. The press has allowed these comments to totally eclipse the health care discussion and the police union is now backing up their officer and demanding an apology from the President who already modified his comments slightly the next day. In other words everybody is acting like an idiot and instead of all parties behaving like grown ups and admitting that there was probably some bad behavior on both sides, they are polarizing the situation. From what I can tell, the Professor was probably rude and overly reactive, but a policeman invaded his home and arrested him, so I can kind of see why he might feel that way - particularly in light of the reality that black men deal with a lot of police persecution. Even if this cop was just doing his job and isn't a racist, it isn't surprising that a black man accused in his own home might feel like he's being persecuted on the base of race. That's the reality of the world we live in. It's also the reality of the world that pliceman live in that they have to make difficult decisions, face danger and that they are human and have human reactions when people give them lip. So my guess is, as I said earlier that both men were behaving badly but understandably and both could do with a bit of apologizing to the other.

There's a common belief that apologizing is admitting you're wrong. I've had lots of situations in my life where people have hurt me without meaning to. The grown-ups have apologized, not because they were bad or wrong, but because they were sorry to have hurt me even inadvertently. We all sometimes get involved in misunderstandings. I sometimes miscommunicate or am misunderstood and if and when that happens. I apologize. I apologize because I'm sorry that I've hurt someone, not because I'm wrong or bad. If you step on someones toes, isn't it sensible to say you're sorry? Can't we be sorry for hurting someone even if we didn't do it on purpose, even if we weren't "wrong.?" That's what this whole big fuss is about in my opinion. Two people who stepped on each other's toes and now their pride is involved and they are both too immature to acknowledge the other guy's side. Or that's what I think.

On another topic, there's this wonderful piece from the Daily Show on the continuing nonsense about whether President Obama is an American citizen.... If you want a truly tortured conversation from the other side, check this conversation with Gordon Liddy. Jon Stewart, by the way, recently polled as the "most trusted newscaster" in a Time Magazine Poll. I trust him more than most newspeople.

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Carletta said...

The old Raven is back!
I admit that I don't watch and follow the news as you Raven. I have heard the mess over the arrest. Without being there and seeing what went on we can't really say. I think the policeman was doing his duty. He got a call saying someone was breaking in and that's how he responded. My one real problem is why Mr. Gates decided he needed to play the race card in the first place. As long as it keeps getting played it will never subside.
As for President Obama - he admitted he didn't have all the facts and yet chose to make a comment anyway. Not sure that was the smartest thing he could have done.

Travis said...

Sadly, in this age of "I'm right and you disagree with me so you're wrong", it's not about manners and courtesy anymore.

I don't know any of the facts of the case. But there are cops in my family and I would imagine that it's a bit nervy for a cop to approach a home after being dispatched to a possible home invasion. He's on edge to start.

However, there are procedures. And if he followed them, then his instructions must be followed and he doesn't deserved to be verbally abused.

On the other hand, I have locked myself out of the house and struggled to get back in. It raises the aggravation level. I'm sure Mr Gates' frustration was up and he was likely on edge.

However, a citizen is obliged to follow the instructions of a police officer. And if Mr Gates did follow those instructions, then he doesn't deserve to be arrested in his own home.

That's my take, knowing as little of the facts as I do. The officer may or may not have acted poorly, and Mr Gates' may or may not have reacted badly. As you say, they should be allowed to meet in private and settle the situation between them quietly and respectfully.

Dianne said...

they also cuffed the professor and took his cane away

my son has been stopped by the police more times than I can count

DWB - driving while black
especially when in a car the police decide is too nice for a young black man

when our apartment was robbed the only people the police spoke to was my son and his black friends

when my car was vandalized the cops started questioning Jeffrey, he told them he had to take a moment to call his boss, he was going to be late and his boss was a bastard
the cop questioning him got nasty and physical
had I not come out just then I shudder to think what would have happened
of course the cop stopped to listen to a white woman

perhaps the officer and the professor can have a conversation that could lead to less of this happening in the future
I do not think the professor needs to apologize to a soul
and I'm sick of multitudes of cops needing to harm people once a situation is contained
I saw photos of at least 3 cops and the professor was already cuffed and they already knew who he was -

of course their job is dangerous!! what happened in Jersey City is a horror, and I'm thrilled that the police chief went off on the NRA

BUT - it is their job to diffuse situations and they are supposedly trained to size up situations

in the case of the professor the cops did act "stupidly" as Obama said

and he's another one who shouldn't apologize

OK - I'm done now, thanks Raven

CJ said...

There are two sides to every issue. And we don't believe what we see, we see what we believe. If we believe police are unreasonable and profile blacks, then the police were wrong. If we believe the police have a hard job and shouldn't have to deal with unreasonable and unruly citizens, then Gates was wrong. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

From what I saw of this issue, once the police confirmed that Gates was in his own home, they should have backed off and apologized for the inconvenience. If they had done so, I think Gates would have backed off and apologized for over-reacting. The issue would have been a small incident and a non-issue. Now they both look bad.

By the way, one of my favorite memoirs, "Colored People" by Henry Lewis Gates Jr., is about his coming of age in a black community in W. VA at the start of the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps if more white people read books like that, they might see the other side of the issue and have more empathy for the discrimination many blacks have endured. Perhaps the black community could attempt to be more forthcoming with police investigations and understanding the difficult job law enforcement has.

CJ said...

Oops! I forgot to comment on Jon Stewart's video. I was laughing out loud ---woke my husband who was upstairs in bed. The difference between Jon Stewart and the "real" news people is that he can say exactly what he thinks and be outrageous and humorous to get his point across. The network news has to pretend they are neutral ---except for Fox, that is.

When I used to watch news in the break room at work, someone would complain that the network we were watching always took the Conservative point of view, then someone else would pipe up and complain they were way too Liberal. As stated in my previous comment, we see what we believe. Also, I recently read a study that showed that if one presents evidence to refute a long-held belief (Obama isn't an American citizen) people tend to dig in their heels and believe it with more ardor than previously. Go figure.