Monday, July 27, 2009

The meaning of the Gates arrest

Radley Balko has an excellent piece on the deeper meaning of this still somewhat confused affair. Key bit:

In the wake of both Gates and Obama escalating the arrest into a national debate about race, too many conservatives took the instinctively authoritarian tack represented here by Washington Post staff writer Neely Tucker:

One of the common-sense rules of life can be summed up this way: Don't Mess With Cops.

It doesn't matter if you are right, wrong, at home or on the street, or if you are white, black, Hispanic, Jewish, Muslim or whatever. When an armed law enforcement officer tells you to cease and desist, the wise person (a) ceases and (b) desists.

The End.

Perhaps on an individual level, this is sound advice. As a general rule, you ought not provoke someone carrying a gun, whether your criticism is justified or not. As a broader sentiment, however, it shows a dangerous level of deference to the government agents in whom we entrust a massive amount of power. And it comes awfully close to writing a blank check for police misconduct.

Speaking truth to power. Amen.