Blogs > Frye on the News

Keeping his eye on the news and offering commentaries and insights on what is happening in Oakland County, around the world, on the tube and in the news.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chaos in Cambridge

Actually, it wasn't chaos. It was business as usual, but now that Barack Obama has stepped into it, it's even bigger news.
The problem with the arrest (and subsequent dropping of misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges) of a prominent black professor at Harvard is that both sides refused to take the high road. 
And it's too bad that in our society, taking the high road is no longer considered a valiant option.
Why step up to the plate and do the right thing when there's the low road to take. In this age of snark and hate, that's the option that proves best? (Just look at Oxford Vilalge Councilman Michael Hamilton's wife's run in with Fox 2 -- reporter could have apologized and wife could have walked away -- but we wouldn't have that great footage to run again and again and again, would we?).
In Cambridge, police Sgt. James Crowley was right to investigate a report of a man breaking home by putting shoulder into a door. And the neighbor was right to report seeing someone breaking into a door.
Of course, Henry Louis Gates Jr. was right to be annoyed at being questioned by officers when he was trying to get through the jammed door of his own home. And he was right to be annoyed if the officer walked into his home without permission. And he was further right to be upset if officer refused to give him his name.
But Gates was wrong if he started screaming and yelling at the officer. Take the high road and thank him for doing what is usually a crappy job.
And the officer was wrong if he couldn't step away from an angry homeowner. He complained in a story about being "verbally assailed," but hey, you know you have a crappy job and just like a waiter, checkout clerk or anyone else in the public, you have to occasionally put up with a jerk. The rest of us aren't given arrest powers to exploit when we're being hassled. 
Just take the high road. 
But in the end, arresting a prominent black scholar who was questioned at his own home is stupid. Just take the high road, walk away and save yourself, your department and your entire profession the embarrassment of doing something so ridiculous.
As quoted by The Associated Press, Richard Weinblatt, director of the Institute of Public Safety at Central Ohio Technical College, suggested: Who's the professional in this situation. The officer was on the job. The professor was getting home after a trip.
If you can't deal with a jerk without going on the power trip, get a new job.


Blogger Dr. Richard Weinblatt said...


You correct in your assertion: Whether it be a white officer or a black officer, a law enforcer needs to have thicker skin, take the high road, and be the professional. If you don't want to be yelled at, be a firefighter. Officers get yelled at in America and it is legal to do so, as long as you don't obstruct an investigation (and Sgt. Crowley wa done with his) or cause alarm in public (Dr. Gates was on his porch). Not worth the arrest here.
-- Dr. Richard Weinblatt

July 27, 2009 at 5:12 PM 

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