Friday, July 31, 2009

How Do I want My Police to Behave (and My Neighbors)

I sure hope, even though, of course, most of them know me, that if I were entering my house in some suspicious way, someone would make a 911 call. I hope the police would appear. I would establish my ownership, and hope the police would be cool, but if they still had suspicions there might be other issues (e.g. there might be a threatened wife who had locked me out) I would of course let them investigate, and remain polite.
Clearly I am talking about Gatesgate; this bit of Breitbart TV is very interesting - Richard Landes looks at the events there from the point of view of his current obsessions (I do not regard obsession as bad), the ludicrous Palestinian/Muslim honor-shame crap.
(The video has one very interesting side bit - clearly the Bush White House had a lot more respect for people in general than the windbag has - no surprise to me).)
And this relates to another recent case here in Ontario. Norm has a fine introduction to it.
I agree that the G&M went over the top on the implications of the case. But wow! Police are in a neighborhood because something funny is going on, and an unknown person in a government uniform is going in an odd way to different houses. Has a policeman the right to ask that person to justify his behavior?
Wow! This is a tough one. The substitute postal delivery guy (and hence not the normal one in that neighborhood) was black and the police were on the alert for Eastern Europeans. I am not sure swarthiness excludes Eastern Europeanness. The police simply asked politely for identification. Is that bad? Apparently.
Norm cites articles that include quotations from Bill Blair, perhaps little imagining who Bill Blair is. Blair thinks the decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, that the police should not have stopped the letter-carrier and did so as racists, is problematic. I think it is problematic as well.
But I do not know. I must read the OHRT decision in detail.
Should Gates have been arrested? No. But he should have been hassled, at the very least.


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