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A few more thoughts on Professor Henry Louis Gates

Henry Louis Gates

This is a continuation of the discussion that I started earlier this week. Most of this grew out of the accusations that President Barack Obama is a racist because of a video which shows him both introducing and hugging Harvard professor Derek Bell. The discussion got off into the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates. I would like to continue that discussion here.

For some reason, in this country, we have an ethnocentric idea that everybody needs to act the same. Actions that deviate from the norm are abnormal and need to be suppressed. My friend, who has stringently argued his point, reveals a critical flaw in his thinking. (Let me add that my friend is highly educated. I’m shocked that he didn’t know who Henry Louis Gates was. I hope that he will find the time to read some of his many books while we are carrying on this discussion.) In his comment, he reverts to saying what he would do if confronted by the police. The discussion isn’t about what he would do or what any White man would do. Instead, this discussion has to do with the criminality and the legitimacy of an arrest of a Black man in his own home. Phrases like “he was looking for it” completely ring hollow with me.

Let’s go over the facts that are not disputed. Henry Louis Gates broke into his own home. A neighbor, concerned, called the police. The police arrived after Prof. Gates had gained access to his own home. They asked for identification and the professor provided two forms of ID. Now, from this point on, all other actions, in my mind, were moot. The police were there to verify that he had not broken into somebody else’s home. The police had at this point verified that he was in fact Henry Louis Gates. Both IDs had pictures on them, and they verified his assertion that he lives in that house. Discussion over. End of story. “Thank you for your time, Prof. Gates. I’m sorry to bother you.” That’s it. Anything else was superfluous and unnecessary.

From the Massachusetts Lawyer Weekly:

In order to secure a disorderly conduct conviction, the prosecution would have to show three things:

1. That Gates engaged in fighting, threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior or created a hazardous condition by an act that served no legitimate purpose;
2. That Gates’ actions were reasonably likely to affect the public; and
3. That the defendant either intended to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, alarm or recklessly created a risk of public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm.

In 1976, the Supreme Judicial Court in Commonwealth v. Richards held that the law cannot be applied to a defendant’s language, even if it is offensive and abusive, unless it constitutes “fighting words which by their very utterance tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

While the report refers to Gates’ conduct as “loud and tumultuous,” there does not appear to be anything there that would allow for a conclusion that they were “fighting words.”

So, we’re left with the question of whether the arrest of Henry Louis Gates was just. Please tell me.

I’d like to spend just a couple more seconds talking about something else that happened which was associated with this incident. Do you remember an e-mail that was circulated from a Boston police officer? Justin Barrett sent an e-mail to the Boston Globe which reveals how race is such an important part of our society. Officer Barrett was responding to a column written by Yvonne Abraham of the Globe in which he states, “for if I was the officer he verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC deserving of his belligerent non-compliance.” (His hate-filled e-mail can be found here.) What causes a man to write something like this? He said in an interview that he was not a racist. Okay? What causes a man who thinks he is not a racist to write such a blatantly racist e-mail? I think that this is important. This man was no martyr. He did not write this e-mail and think that he was going to be suspended and then fired. He thought he was doing the right thing. He thought he was doing the right thing by telling off that reporter. When we read the whole e-mail, it becomes apparent that it was not only about race, but it was about power. It was about how people are supposed to react to the police. It was about respect.

To me, this whole discussion is about respect and opportunity. All Americans want is to be respected and have the opportunity to provide for their families. That’s it. This whole discussion of women’s rights and Sandra Fluke is about respect and opportunity. Over the next several days I will continue to talk about race (Jeff, I promise I will be getting back to your comments, promise…) and how opportunities are widely available to some but extremely limited for others. What are your thoughts?

By |2012-04-05T20:48:57-04:00March 13th, 2012|Legal, Race|Comments Off on A few more thoughts on Professor Henry Louis Gates

Wednesday Morning News Roundup (Update)

US patent office is in bad need of reform.

Bachmann may be down but unfortunately, I don’t think that she should throw in the towel yet.

I think that President Obama needs to think big. He needs to go big. I would push him to go for a $1.5 trillion jobs package. Let the Republicans’ heads explode, to quote Cheney. He should take the package to the American people. He should say that an unemployment rate of 9.1% is criminal. We have to do better. We have to bring unemployment under 5% as quickly as possible. Rick Newman has a more middle of the road suggestion for the president.

I still think that Romney’s job proposal is laughable. There is nothing new. It is a continuation of what Bush started and that didn’t end so well for us. Well, before I completely trash it I should wait for some economists to come out with their thoughts.

We need to prepare for more costly disasters, not less. Eric Cantor, are you listening?

I know that Rick Perry has been bashing RomneyCare but a closer look is illuminating. 27% of Texans don’t have health insurance, whereas 5.3% of Massachusetts residents don’t have health insurance. I’m just saying.

Updates:

Texas Wildfires. Tons of problems in East Texas

Yesterday, the Texas Forest Service responded to 19 new fires for 1,490 acres, including new large fires in Red River and Rusk counties. In the past seven days, Texas Forest Service has responded to 172 fires for 135,051 acres.

An assessment has been completed on the Bastrop County Complex and 785 homes have been reported destroyed. An additional 238 have been reported lost on other fires in the past three days, for a total of approximately 1,023.

A significant number of aircraft have been mobilized to assist with the heavy fire activity. Six heavy airtankers, three 1,500-gallon scoopers, 15 single-engine airtankers, 12 helicopters, and 12 aerial supervision aircraft are in place. Eight National Guard Blackhawk and three Chinook helicopters have been providing critical aerial support. In addition, a 12,000-gallon DC-10 airtanker will be activated Friday morning at the Austin-Bergstrom Airport. This aircraft was instrumental in helping to contain Wildcat Fire in Coke County last April.

A Type I Incident Management Team is in place in Bastrop this morning and is assisting Texas Forest Service in managing the Bastrop County Complex. Additional Type 1 teams have been requested to assist with the large fires in Northeast and Southeast Texas.

Remember that Rick Perry cut funding for fighting wildfires.

If you are going to invest in government bonds, whose are the safest?

45-year-olds need to plan on retiring at age 70 – Rick Perry. What? Why retire then? Who will have the money? Let’s just retire when we are dead. Is that okay with you, Rick?

Did you catch the London speech of Chicago Fed Chair Charles Evans? Here’s a piece:

Suppose we faced a very different economic environment: Imagine that inflation was running at 5% against our inflation objective of 2%. Is there a doubt that any central banker worth their salt would be reacting strongly to fight this high inflation rate? No, there isn’t any doubt. They would be acting as if their hair was on fire. We should be similarly energized about improving conditions in the labor market.

This has been my point for over 12 months. There are too many Americans out of work. Both parties are acting as if there is something that they need to put up at the Dry Cleaners. It is important but …. Damn it. Millions of Americans are out of work. Let’s get to it. Let’s put Americans back to work. NOW!

Finally, just to prove that we aren’t the only nation that has really crazy people – we have been voted the “coolest nation.” Really? Who votes in that poll? When you look at Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, do you think cool? Will Smith – cool. Lady Gaga – cool or odd? 🙂

By |2011-09-07T06:33:22-04:00September 7th, 2011|Domestic Issues, Economy, Environment|Comments Off on Wednesday Morning News Roundup (Update)

What happened to the jobs?

The latest jobs numbers have come out. The good news is that we didn’t lose any jobs. The bad news is that we don’t appear to have gained as many as we should have. This is the spending Christmas season.

From EPI:

The labor market remains 7.4 million payroll jobs below where it was at the start of the recession in December 2007, and this number understates the size of the gap in the labor market by failing to take into account the fact that, simply to keep up with the growth in the working-age population, the labor market should have added around 3.6 million jobs in the nearly three years since December 2007. This means the labor market is now roughly 11 million jobs below the level needed to restore the pre-recession unemployment rate (5.0% in December 2007). To achieve the pre-recession unemployment rate in five years, the labor market would have to add nearly 300,000 jobs every month for 60 months in a row. An increase of a mere 39,000, like we saw last month, is just not enough for the 15.1 million unemployed workers of this country.

Earlier this week, the federally funded extended unemployment insurance benefits expired. If they aren’t reinstated, 2 million workers will prematurely lose benefits this month. Importantly, these benefits serve two purposes. First, they provide a lifeline to the unemployed and their families during the deepest and longest downturn since the 1930s. Second, these benefits also boost spending in the economy and therefore generate jobs. The continuation of unemployment insurance extensions through 2011 will create or save around 900,000 full-time-equivalent jobs. With a jobs deficit of 11 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 9.8%, Congress must do the right thing for these workers who lost jobs through no fault of their own and for the health of the overall economy.

MB at DK was very surprised by the numbers. His post solidifies the problems in the jobs numbers. He writes:

Stunned would seem to be the most common reaction to last week’s job report for November. Instead of 160,000 new private-sector jobs that the expert consensus predicted would be announced – with many analysts predicting far more – the Bureau of Labor Statistics said only 50,000 additional private-sector jobs had been created. And, because 11,000 government jobs had been terminated, the net was a paltry 39,000. More than one commentator called that “awful.” And, indeed, it was.

But it was a surprise because there had been a plethora of mostly good news in the run-up to the jobs report, such as here, here, here, here, here, here and here. While many analysts were scratching their heads Friday – even though numerous reports from the Federal Reserve and other sources have been saying ever since the gross domestic product moved into positive territory five quarters ago that job growth could be slow for years with lots of ups and downs month to month – a few took a different approach. (Some people, of course, don’t accept the government’s job tally at all for any month. All those numbers are completely fabricated, they say, starting with the surveys themselves. But that’s another discussion.)

One of the analysts who challenged Friday’s report was Stephen Gandel at Time/CNN’s The Curious Capitalist. Gandel said the BLS missed 350,000 jobs in its November count. Retail jobs made up the bulk of these. The idea that retail hiring was minus 28,000 in November does seem counter-intuitive. This year is the best in the past three years for holiday retail sales, and Black Friday and Cyber-Monday looked encouraging. So how could that sector of the economy be shedding jobs?

By |2010-12-09T13:47:24-04:00December 9th, 2010|Economy|Comments Off on What happened to the jobs?
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