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Author Topic: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police  (Read 2603 times)

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Offline Elandra

Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2009, 03:16:40 PM »
My favorite commentary on the whole situation:

http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-303137

Offline kylie

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Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2009, 08:09:49 PM »
My favorite commentary on the whole situation:

http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-303137
I'd like to post quotes, but it's not so easy with video.  Looked for a transcript but didn't find one.

     First, Desire claims that the neighbor who originally witnessed the door being forced was racially profiling Gates.  It is possible (plenty of references to "Black crime" in our media - see Michael Moore), but I don't know where she finds evidence to be sure.  Desire seems to be very in tune with an urban population where everyone knows the life of next door very well.  I don't really know how much time these people around Cambridge spend in their houses (and how many hours is Gates on campus), whether the neighbor has spent any time speaking with Gates, or even how the lawns and windows are laid out for this situation.

     Desire tries to narrow this down to a question of respecting police "authority."  However, there are serious doubts about the cause of arrest.  As I understand it: At worst, Gates may have been yelling and posturing on the curbside by the end.  I don't favor a society where merely getting upset at the police, even yelling, is grounds for arrest.  I want the armed uniforms out there to have cooler heads, and know when to shake those heads and leave people to chill out.  There are things to be sweeping around making arrests for.  Try grand theft, rape and murder.  Even harassment of defenseless people in their home (well I was thinking more of repeated threats by acquaintances, but made you look?)...  Gates was not robbing his own place.  Nor was he threatening anything more valuable than an isolated few minutes of a guy's ego.

     It's a common, foreseeable and often no-detainment situation.  The police fumble in their diplomacy, and a weary homeowner all too familiar with frequent police abuses gets angry.  If that is going to be held as against law and order, then the police should have taken it court.  Not doing so suggests this was more a case of a Nanny State at best, or simple intimidation at worst.

     Desire also seems to be suggesting that you can prove something is less likely to be racist just because there is Black-on-Black abuse of similar nature by other police.  (Actually, some of the photos of Gates' arrest do show a visually Black officer on the scene as well as a visually White one at some point.)  However, racism is not limited to those who appear White (and people don't agree on who does).  Racism is an ingredient for your worldview, like any other -ism.  Anyone can slip into it. 

   She is upset that Gates (and Obama) had the opportunity to publicize this police action due to his class status, while many Blacks cannot afford to.  It appears that she has defined Blackness in a way that you get to be authentically "Black" specifically by association with the most oppressed situations possible.  This explains her effort to mark Obama "pseudo-Black." She doesn't notice that leaders who would prefer to undo legal protections for minorities will be happy to repeat such words, or she just might be interested in tightening the "real Black community" through a return to past battles.  It is true that many high profile, middle class cases have not led to changes in policy and behavior that would relieve many working-class Blacks.  That does not prove that efforts by middle class Blacks never help the working class (although it is awfully incremental).  More to the point, this is not good evidence that racism was not in play when Gates was arrested. 

     This is a speech more commonly racist parties and identity extremists could love.  It shows a visually minority person, speaking earnestly (but with just enough ethnic style to appear Other)...  She identifies herself -- and real Blackness -- with the type of Black experience that more discriminatory policies tend to maintain.  If Desire were actually interested in equality for everyone, I couldn't tell from this speech.  There is anger only on the behalf of more underpriveleged Blacks.  Ironically, that is the very experience that Gates and Obama have sought to point to overlaps with.  There is capricious detainment all over the place, not usually in Harvard or the White House but for Blacks with less class status and fewer resources to protest.   

« Last Edit: July 28, 2009, 08:10:56 PM by kylie »

Offline Banderas

Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2009, 03:50:43 PM »
As a RL cop, I had to respond to this.

First: The police did not initiate this incident.  The incident was generated by a 911 call from a neighbor who reported two men, wearing backpacks, attempting to force open the front door of a residence.  The police responded to the location, and conducted a proper investigation, ie demanding to see his identification.

Second: Gates was inside his house.  Fine.  But he is still required to show his identification to any investigating officers.  Imagine if a burglar was in your house, and instead of fleeing when the police arrived, he instead displayed bravado and arrogance.  Is that proof enough to accept that the person in the house is the legal occupant?  I should hope not.  Again, the police acted properly.  Race is inconsequential here, though I know there will be the Monday Morning Quarterbacks here who will say it was racial profiling, etc etc.  I have been a police officer for 15 years, and have heard it all before a thousand times.  I am tired of hearing it.

Third: I have dealt with arrogant people like Gates before, many, many times.  Gates repeatedly asked (3 times, I believe) Sgt Crowley for his name and identification, which Crowley provided each time.  Gates made a phone call, and made sure the call was audible to Crowley, where Gates asked for the name of a police chief.  In other words, Gates was threatening a negative job action against Crowley for merely doing his job.  That is arrogance. 
Many times, people have tried to scare me into not doing my job by asking for my name and shield number, and threatening that they know powerful people and will have my job if arrested.  Gates seems to be someone who considers himself above the dregs of humanity. 

Fourth: The charges were not dropped because they were bullshit.  The DA maintains prerogative to decline prosecution against misdemeanor and lesser offenses, and in this case, it was deemed better by the DA to let the matter drop to avoid a press circus over a minor violation.  I guarantee you that if Gates had been from the "lower rungs" of society, the charges would have stood.  To all those that think Gates should receive preferential treatment because of his societal status, I say shame on you.

Fifth: Gates's behavior met the definition of Disorderly Conduct, and therefore he was arrested.  It is inconsequential that he was acting in this manner on private property.  Private property is considered a public place when able to be viewed and heard by the public.  Gates continued to act in a disorderly manner from his front porch. 

If people are unhappy with this "bullshit" disorderly conduct law, then write your politicians to change it.  The police don't make the laws.  Then Gates and anyone else who wants can stand on their porches and scream all day.  It's their property, right?  Why, maybe I'll put amplifiers out on my front porch and blast music as loud as I want throughout the neighborhood.  Because its my property.

President Obama knew exactly what he was saying when he made his "The police acted stupidly" comment.  Anyone really think the President of the United States can't get his hands on an arrest report before he makes a public comment to the nation regarding the matter?

If arresting someone on a legitimate charge is considered stupid because the person charged is politically powerful, then we're in trouble.

*runs and hides from incoming artillery*

 


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Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2009, 04:22:59 PM »
Good point.

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Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #29 on: August 03, 2009, 05:24:40 PM »
The police did not initiate this incident.  The incident was generated by a 911 call from a neighbor who reported two men, wearing backpacks, attempting to force open the front door of a residence.  The police responded to the location, and conducted a proper investigation, ie demanding to see his identification.
     I don't see many people claiming they just appeared for no reason.  Do you? 
Having "a job to do" is not the same as doing it well or nicely or without prejudice, though.

Quote
Imagine if a burglar was in your house, and instead of fleeing when the police arrived, he instead displayed bravado and arrogance. 
     I have heard that the police report, and some of the officer's comments at various times, and Gate's claims all disagreed.  I have not read the police report.  Is that where you're getting this?  At most, we might end up with two outright conflicting stories.  For lack of witnesses. 

     My understanding is, Gates claims to have showed ID.  New York Times reports the whole thing went on for like five minutes.  Now it's possible Gates blew his top early given he spends a lot of time thinking race issues, and this after he was on the road for twenty hours and frustrated with his door (not inevitable, but possible).  I'll give you that, but could you prove it?  As opposed to Crowley being hasty or undiplomatic -- which would be consistent with researched trends of overall police treatment of Blacks...  That is quite plausible in the state of our society, too. 

Quote
Gates made a phone call, and made sure the call was audible to Crowley, where Gates asked for the name of a police chief.  In other words, Gates was threatening a negative job action against Crowley for merely doing his job.
     From the basic description there - asking for a higher-up...  I could also imagine that perhaps Gates was simply disbelieving Crowley's ID.  Or possibly, he was honestly outraged by Crowley's logic or attitude, who's to say.  So, what if he simply wanted to speak to a supervisor.  While I might understand Crowley feeling that was going a little far, consider: Crowley is supposed to be responding to a break-in, as you say.  If this is some kind of scam, is the guy going to get it done by staying in the house and calling the police himself?  It would seem to make him easier to identify and draw more attention to the site.  If you put it this way, you've shifted Crowley's job from preventing robbery, to forcefully making himself look good. 

Quote
Many times, people have tried to scare me into not doing my job by asking for my name and shield number, and threatening that they know powerful people and will have my job if arrested.  Gates seems to be someone who considers himself above the dregs of humanity. 
     Police generally guard some sorts of property with higher priority, and are not assigned or choose not to pay equal attention to other sorts.  Consider the militarization of political conventions.  The cops do not all let protestors walk peacefully along the sidewalks near the site; never mind that is the basic letter of the law.  They wall off whole blocks and deny access to anyone who looks like a protestor, with riot gear if a few dozen show up peacefully on the sidewalk
     
     It's well established that police often get the "job" of guarding the upper class.  The police do not go around busting every upper-class homeowner who calls downtown or makes some noise on their lawn.  So why Gates, and not the others?  Race, perhaps?

Quote
  I guarantee you that if Gates had been from the "lower rungs" of society, the charges would have stood.  To all those that think Gates should receive preferential treatment because of his societal status, I say shame on you.
 
     It's probably true that his public face (and media attention) had an impact.  That would not prove that the charges were reasonable.  It would not even prove that a jury would tend to support them.

Quote
Fifth: Gates's behavior met the definition of Disorderly Conduct, and therefore he was arrested.  It is inconsequential that he was acting in this manner on private property.  Private property is considered a public place when able to be viewed and heard by the public.  Gates continued to act in a disorderly manner from his front porch. 
      This has more weight to me than the other arguments...  However, I believe there are many other situations that police encounter which either do or might "meet the definition."  Such standards are often vague and subjective, and frequently applied quite outside the context the laws were established to handle.  I don't think middle or upper class homeowners are regularly arrested for similar outbursts in all the other cases.  I have also seen police in some areas who systematically make a point of giving people time to separate and calm down, rather than cuffing them immediately for being upset (even if loudly).  Part of it is a question of what your police force considers norms of the local culture.  Race plays into the calculation.  It is not always consistent regionally or class-wise.

Quote
President Obama knew exactly what he was saying when he made his "The police acted stupidly" comment.  Anyone really think the President of the United States can't get his hands on an arrest report before he makes a public comment to the nation regarding the matter?
     I doubt they serve up local police reports along with the National Intelligence Estimate and everything else in his job description.  How can you "know" he went and requested one?  If he did, why did he pause and struggle for words on camera before falling back on "stupid."  Which, while I have doubts about the police action, I agree was not the most useful word.  To his credit, he had the poise to apologize for the wording later, and get on with things.

« Last Edit: August 03, 2009, 05:31:47 PM by kylie »

Offline Phoenix

Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #30 on: August 03, 2009, 07:09:45 PM »
I think he would have been wise to wait for more information.

I think that he does best with teleprompters and someone to "politicise" his speeches for him. He tends to sometimes be a bit too human for most people's sensibilities without someone to stuff a cane up his nethers and make him properly political.

I think that, because he is President, it would behoove him to gracefully acknowledge that he would have been wise to wait for more information, and apologize.

I think that the semantics of the situation is less important than the fact that as President, he has a certain obligation that most folks don't, which is to speak with greater thought than most folks have to. His personal opinions must be more carefully guarded than other people's need to be.

I think that he's just a human like the rest of us, and he's gonna say stupid shit once in a while. I personally would pass it off as some ignorant jackass making a stupid comment, if I were those cops. But I'm not, and they do have the right not to feel slandered on public TV by a person as prominent (and to a surprising number of people, believable) as the President.

Offline Banderas

Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #31 on: August 03, 2009, 07:49:40 PM »
I will respond as I am able.  You make good points.

     I don't see many people claiming they just appeared for no reason.  Do you? 
Having "a job to do" is not the same as doing it well or nicely or without prejudice, though.

Doing a job well does not always mean doing it nicely, and with a huge smile on your face.  Would walking away from the scene be considered nice?  What if the police responded to a domestic dispute between a couple, and one of the couple starts berating the police incessantly, while the other member tells the police they are on private property and should leave.  Neither of the couple called 911:  The call came from a disinterested third party.  Should the police be "nice" and just walk away while one of the couple continues to scream?  What if the screamer ends up stabbing the other after the police depart?  Is that the way you would have the police treat 911 calls?
   
I have heard that the police report, and some of the officer's comments at various times, and Gate's claims all disagreed.  I have not read the police report.  Is that where you're getting this?  At most, we might end up with two outright conflicting stories.  For lack of witnesses.


Yes, I have read the police report.  And there may be untruths in it. BUT, whereas Gates can say anything he likes and can change his account of the event at will, the Police Report was filed before Gates called the press.  What is on there is written in stone, for the police officer may not go back and change it.  I do not say Gates is lying, but even if he does lie, and is caught, there will be neither repercussions or legal sanctions against him.  He knows this.  The police report, on the other hand, is a sworn piece of evidence, and if it would ever be proven the officer was perjuring himself on the document, he would likely be fired, possibly faciing criminal prosecution.  There are too many variables in any given situation (the presence of cell phone cameras, recorders, etc) which could immediately disprove the officer if he was lying.  So yes, I do lend more weight to the police report than Gates's statements.

   
My understanding is, Gates claims to have showed ID.  New York Times reports the whole thing went on for like five minutes.  Now it's possible Gates blew his top early given he spends a lot of time thinking race issues, and this after he was on the road for twenty hours and frustrated with his door (not inevitable, but possible).  I'll give you that, but could you prove it?  As opposed to Crowley being hasty or undiplomatic -- which would be consistent with researched trends of overall police treatment of Blacks...  That is quite plausible in the state of our society, too.

Ah, now you stereotype the police.  Sgt Crowley has a spotless disciplinary record.  He has no history in his file of being involved in any similar incidents.  Are you saying that if Gates had been white, but acted in the same manner, the police would have walked away?  I would completely disagree with you on that.  Disorderly behavior is the same no matter who engages in it.  I don't pick and choose which laws I enforce based on the ethnicity of the suspected perpetrator.  Of course this is anecdotal, because I speak only for myself.
But I have enough time as a police officer (15 years) to see that this police behavior which you make out to be so common is actually exceedingly rare.  In fact, I myself have never seen preferential treatment given by individual officer based on ethnicity.

From the basic description there - asking for a higher-up...  I could also imagine that perhaps Gates was simply disbelieving Crowley's ID.  Or possibly, he was honestly outraged by Crowley's logic or attitude, who's to say.  So, what if he simply wanted to speak to a supervisor.  While I might understand Crowley feeling that was going a little far, consider: Crowley is supposed to be responding to a break-in, as you say.  If this is some kind of scam, is the guy going to get it done by staying in the house and calling the police himself?  It would seem to make him easier to identify and draw more attention to the site.  If you put it this way, you've shifted Crowley's job from preventing robbery, to forcefully making himself look good.

If Gates disbelieved Crowley's ID, why then did he not call 911 to report a police impersonator?  There would have been a much faster response.  Instead, he tried to get the Cambridge Police Chief on the line.  Why not a lieutenant?  No.  Gates was attempting to scare Crowley by virtue of political connections.  Gates is friends with a Chief, you see.  He's a very important person!  Like I said, I have been in the exact same scenario Crowley was in.  When Gates refused to quiet down, he escalated the situation all by himself. 

 
     Police generally guard some sorts of property with higher priority, and are not assigned or choose not to pay equal attention to other sorts.  Consider the militarization of political conventions.  The cops do not all let protestors walk peacefully along the sidewalks near the site; never mind that is the basic letter of the law.  They wall off whole blocks and deny access to anyone who looks like a protestor, with riot gear if a few dozen show up peacefully on the sidewalk.

This I will never understand.  First, police are assigned to guard what their supervisors tell them to guard.  The supervisors are told by the politicians what the police should guard.  You make it sound as if the police are some sort of independent shadow government, beholden to none.  When I am assigned a sector during patrol, I patrol that sector.  I don't decide to go patrol the nicer neighborhood, because I like rich or white people better.  I do my job, and my job is dictated ultimately by elected officials.

About protests:  I recognize the right of people to peacably assemble for redress of grievances.  But I also recognize the right of other people, who are not involved in the protest, to be able to come and freely, whether it be to their workplaces or otherwise.  I will use the example of the single protestor in front of the auto repair shop (true story):  The protestor stand in front of the shop with his sign.  The location he stands in blocks the garage entrance, thereby impeding the shop from conducting business.  I move the protestor off the driveway, and place him about 10 feet away from where he stood.  Now the business can repair autos again, while the protestor can still protest, albeit 10 feet away from where he previously stood.  The protestor accuses me of violating his first amendment rights.  Have I?  Everyone has a right to protest, but there must be a happy medium where those who are subject to the protest also have their own rights protected, as well as those involved in neither party.

In addition, again you make the case that the police officer on the street is the one who is deciding on his own where the protestors are allowed and disallowed.  That is not the case.  The riot police do not decide to show up to protests on their own accord.  But you choose to make the police officer the fall guy, which sadly is all too common.
     
   
It's well established that police often get the "job" of guarding the upper class. 

And yet, at least in New York City, the highest crime precincts get the lion's share of officers assigned to them.  Police here are assigned according to the compstat system.  Compstat tracks index felony crimes and assigns police officers to address those crimes.  More crime in a given area means more police officers assigned to that area.


The police do not go around busting every upper-class homeowner who calls downtown or makes some noise on their lawn.  So why Gates, and not the others?  Race, perhaps?

And now you use anecdotal evidence.  Who is to say that no other upper class homeowners were ever arrested by the police for making noise?  Is this factual?  The only reason you heard about Gates is because Gates himself decided to tell the press all about it.  I, of course, was not at the scene, but I will never second guess the actions of Sgt Crowley.  Can you say with certainty that Crowley had similar encounters in the past with other upper class homeowners, but did not arrest them because they were white?


 
     It's probably true that his public face (and media attention) had an impact.  That would not prove that the charges were reasonable.  It would not even prove that a jury would tend to support them.

Disorderly Conduct is Disorderly Conduct.  Disorderly Conduct is described in the penal law, very thoroughly.  If the police report is factually correct, then Gates engaged in Disorderly Conduct.  End of Story.  Perhaps if Gates ceased his outburst when advised to, maybe this would have ended without an arrest.  But he persisted in his actions until the cuffs were placed on him.


      This has more weight to me than the other arguments...  However, I believe there are many other situations that police encounter which either do or might "meet the definition."  Such standards are often vague and subjective, and frequently applied quite outside the context the laws were established to handle.  I don't think middle or upper class homeowners are regularly arrested for similar outbursts in all the other cases.  I have also seen police in some areas who systematically make a point of giving people time to separate and calm down, rather than cuffing them immediately for being upset (even if loudly).  Part of it is a question of what your police force considers norms of the local culture.  Race plays into the calculation.  It is not always consistent regionally or class-wise.

You are correct:  Middle and upper class homeowners are not regularly arrested for acting in a disorderly manner out of proportion to the frequency they engage in it.  Neither are lower class homeowners or renters.  Part of the equation which leads to an arrest is indeed the personality of the officer.  But there are other factors involved which outweigh the officer's personality.  One factor is if the party opposite the police quiets down quickly enough.  I have walked into disputes, etc, where the crowd or individual was boisterous.  I didn't immediately start throwing people into custody.  I always ask for quiet first.  If the party continues to act in a loud or aggresive manner, their chances of being arrested rise exponentially.  There are also cases where the police must make an arrest.

     I doubt they serve up local police reports along with the National Intelligence Estimate and everything else in his job description.  How can you "know" he went and requested one?  If he did, why did he pause and struggle for words on camera before falling back on "stupid."  Which, while I have doubts about the police action, I agree was not the most useful word.  To his credit, he had the poise to apologize for the wording later, and get on with things.

I am sure the White House does not include police arrest reports with the daily security briefing.  But if anyone can obtain an official government report, whether federal, state, or municipal, the White House can.  The President of the United States holds an awesome responsibilty to the people to watch what he says.  To comment on a situation without having seen both sides of the story is grossly irresponsible at best.  I do not think Presdient Obama's comments were by mistake.  He (like other Presidents) has a thousand handlers at his side who script his comments.  Very little the President says is spontaneous, and I do not for a minute believe that he spoke off the cuff when he made his comment.  What he said was a gratuitous slap at the police, and it was intentional.

I was not responding to you, per se, Kylie, when I said I "had to respond to this".  I actually meant to say "had to respond to this thread".  But I was in a rush to get the reply fired off, and so there we are!

 

Offline kylie

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Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #32 on: August 03, 2009, 08:10:31 PM »
I think he would have been wise to wait for more information. 

     I can understand the sentiment, but logically... I'm really having  a hard time imagining what Gates could have done in his own home or on his porch for that matter, within five minutes, that was really worthy of arrest - without significant bias or rashness by the police.  There may have been shared hastiness to go around and escalate it.  I think that is as far as I would offer, unless there's an unreported Molitov or something.

Quote
I think that the semantics of the situation is less important than the fact that as President, he has a certain obligation that most folks don't, which is to speak with greater thought than most folks have to. His personal opinions must be more carefully guarded than other people's need to be.
     While I do feel that many of his speeches have been more effective for being more thoughtful, the points he made were more based on 1) widely accepted outlines of the situation at the time - I haven't seen much to contradict the basics still - and 2) on well-established racial issues.  He said as much.
     
     He would have appeared out of touch not to point out obvious trends of racism in national policing (not the same thing as "slandering" an individual one).  There is a movement for Change.  His mandate is not to be the Great Mediator without opinion.  It's to resituate and begin to alleviate persistent issues. That doesn't happen by leaving them out of the discussion when questionable stuff arises.

...... And as to your taste for graphic fantasies involving the President, there are plenty of other boards.


Offline Serephino

Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #33 on: August 03, 2009, 09:28:41 PM »
I will respond as I am able.  You make good points.

Doing a job well does not always mean doing it nicely, and with a huge smile on your face.  Would walking away from the scene be considered nice?  What if the police responded to a domestic dispute between a couple, and one of the couple starts berating the police incessantly, while the other member tells the police they are on private property and should leave.  Neither of the couple called 911:  The call came from a disinterested third party.  Should the police be "nice" and just walk away while one of the couple continues to scream?  What if the screamer ends up stabbing the other after the police depart?  Is that the way you would have the police treat 911 calls?
     

Yes, I have read the police report.  And there may be untruths in it. BUT, whereas Gates can say anything he likes and can change his account of the event at will, the Police Report was filed before Gates called the press.  What is on there is written in stone, for the police officer may not go back and change it.  I do not say Gates is lying, but even if he does lie, and is caught, there will be neither repercussions or legal sanctions against him.  He knows this.  The police report, on the other hand, is a sworn piece of evidence, and if it would ever be proven the officer was perjuring himself on the document, he would likely be fired, possibly faciing criminal prosecution.  There are too many variables in any given situation (the presence of cell phone cameras, recorders, etc) which could immediately disprove the officer if he was lying.  So yes, I do lend more weight to the police report than Gates's statements.

Ah, now you stereotype the police.  Sgt Crowley has a spotless disciplinary record.  He has no history in his file of being involved in any similar incidents.  Are you saying that if Gates had been white, but acted in the same manner, the police would have walked away?  I would completely disagree with you on that.  Disorderly behavior is the same no matter who engages in it.  I don't pick and choose which laws I enforce based on the ethnicity of the suspected perpetrator.  Of course this is anecdotal, because I speak only for myself.
But I have enough time as a police officer (15 years) to see that this police behavior which you make out to be so common is actually exceedingly rare.  In fact, I myself have never seen preferential treatment given by individual officer based on ethnicity.

If Gates disbelieved Crowley's ID, why then did he not call 911 to report a police impersonator?  There would have been a much faster response.  Instead, he tried to get the Cambridge Police Chief on the line.  Why not a lieutenant?  No.  Gates was attempting to scare Crowley by virtue of political connections.  Gates is friends with a Chief, you see.  He's a very important person!  Like I said, I have been in the exact same scenario Crowley was in.  When Gates refused to quiet down, he escalated the situation all by himself. 

This I will never understand.  First, police are assigned to guard what their supervisors tell them to guard.  The supervisors are told by the politicians what the police should guard.  You make it sound as if the police are some sort of independent shadow government, beholden to none.  When I am assigned a sector during patrol, I patrol that sector.  I don't decide to go patrol the nicer neighborhood, because I like rich or white people better.  I do my job, and my job is dictated ultimately by elected officials.

About protests:  I recognize the right of people to peacably assemble for redress of grievances.  But I also recognize the right of other people, who are not involved in the protest, to be able to come and freely, whether it be to their workplaces or otherwise.  I will use the example of the single protestor in front of the auto repair shop (true story):  The protestor stand in front of the shop with his sign.  The location he stands in blocks the garage entrance, thereby impeding the shop from conducting business.  I move the protestor off the driveway, and place him about 10 feet away from where he stood.  Now the business can repair autos again, while the protestor can still protest, albeit 10 feet away from where he previously stood.  The protestor accuses me of violating his first amendment rights.  Have I?  Everyone has a right to protest, but there must be a happy medium where those who are subject to the protest also have their own rights protected, as well as those involved in neither party.

In addition, again you make the case that the police officer on the street is the one who is deciding on his own where the protestors are allowed and disallowed.  That is not the case.  The riot police do not decide to show up to protests on their own accord.  But you choose to make the police officer the fall guy, which sadly is all too common.
     
And yet, at least in New York City, the highest crime precincts get the lion's share of officers assigned to them.  Police here are assigned according to the compstat system.  Compstat tracks index felony crimes and assigns police officers to address those crimes.  More crime in a given area means more police officers assigned to that area.

And now you use anecdotal evidence.  Who is to say that no other upper class homeowners were ever arrested by the police for making noise?  Is this factual?  The only reason you heard about Gates is because Gates himself decided to tell the press all about it.  I, of course, was not at the scene, but I will never second guess the actions of Sgt Crowley.  Can you say with certainty that Crowley had similar encounters in the past with other upper class homeowners, but did not arrest them because they were white?


Disorderly Conduct is Disorderly Conduct.  Disorderly Conduct is described in the penal law, very thoroughly.  If the police report is factually correct, then Gates engaged in Disorderly Conduct.  End of Story.  Perhaps if Gates ceased his outburst when advised to, maybe this would have ended without an arrest.  But he persisted in his actions until the cuffs were placed on him.


You are correct:  Middle and upper class homeowners are not regularly arrested for acting in a disorderly manner out of proportion to the frequency they engage in it.  Neither are lower class homeowners or renters.  Part of the equation which leads to an arrest is indeed the personality of the officer.  But there are other factors involved which outweigh the officer's personality.  One factor is if the party opposite the police quiets down quickly enough.  I have walked into disputes, etc, where the crowd or individual was boisterous.  I didn't immediately start throwing people into custody.  I always ask for quiet first.  If the party continues to act in a loud or aggresive manner, their chances of being arrested rise exponentially.  There are also cases where the police must make an arrest.

I am sure the White House does not include police arrest reports with the daily security briefing.  But if anyone can obtain an official government report, whether federal, state, or municipal, the White House can.  The President of the United States holds an awesome responsibilty to the people to watch what he says.  To comment on a situation without having seen both sides of the story is grossly irresponsible at best.  I do not think Presdient Obama's comments were by mistake.  He (like other Presidents) has a thousand handlers at his side who script his comments.  Very little the President says is spontaneous, and I do not for a minute believe that he spoke off the cuff when he made his comment.  What he said was a gratuitous slap at the police, and it was intentional.

I was not responding to you, per se, Kylie, when I said I "had to respond to this".  I actually meant to say "had to respond to this thread".  But I was in a rush to get the reply fired off, and so there we are!

I certainly understand why you felt the need to respond to this.  I have a good friend that is a police officer, and he's explained to me if you attack one cop, it's as good as attacking them all.

Really, the only ones who know what really happened are the individuals that were there.  In my experience, the truth is usually somewhere between both sides of the story.  My friend has admitted to me that he and his co workers have occasionally bent the rules and fudged the facts on police reports when a person they were dealing with was pissing them off.  He has a spotless record because no one has ever been able to prove anything.  It's his word against the other person's.  And while the public may believe the person and make the cop the bad guy as you say, the people that matter usually believe the officer.  You said yourself, had there not been such a fuss over this the charges would've probably stuck.

Now I'm not saying cops are corrupt or bad people....  I'm just saying y'all are human.  My friend is a great guy, hence why he's my friend.  He follows the law for the most part and generally is nice when people cooperate with him.  He isn't racist, and you may not be racist, but racist cops do exist. 

What really happened will probably never be known.  But I was talking to my friend about this and he agrees with me that this was probably a mix of arrogance and pride.  Gates was arrogant because he was important, and Sgt Crowley was upset, just like you said you have been upset by people who pull that shit.  He probably wanted to stick it to the arrogant prick, so arrested him because he could.  But of course this is all speculation, and who knows.... 

Offline kylie

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Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #34 on: August 03, 2009, 09:29:27 PM »
Quote from: Banderas
Doing a job well does not always mean doing it nicely, and with a huge smile on your face.  Would walking away from the scene be considered nice?  What if the police responded to a domestic dispute between a couple, and one of the couple starts berating the police incessantly, while the other member tells the police they are on private property and should leave...[snip]?
     I don't see this as a comparable situation.  I've heard no claims that Gates was in a dispute with any third party.  I believe it's just him and the police.  Unless he is physically impeding them or threatening them with some specific harm, I don't see how they would suffer by letting the situation cool a few minutes. 
     Again, you've taken rhetoric of "the job" to mean first protection of property and second an extremely broad definition of maintaining the peace.  Being called in for the first is not a good reason to be hasty in applying the second.  They are separate discussions, and shouldn't be confused.
     
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I do not say Gates is lying, but even if he does lie, and is caught, there will be neither repercussions or legal sanctions against him.  He knows this.  The police report, on the other hand, is a sworn piece of evidence, and if it would ever be proven the officer was perjuring himself on the document, he would likely be fired, possibly faciing criminal prosecution.  There are too many variables in any given situation (the presence of cell phone cameras, recorders, etc) which could immediately disprove the officer if he was lying.  So yes, I do lend more weight to the police report than Gates's statements.
     I do think this has some potential; just not wholly swayed by it...

     Are there reports of anyone actually in the area observing to take pictures?  Just at a quick flip on Google, I keep seeing the same picture on the porch over and over.  If the setting or population density are such that no one is likely to be watching, then cameras don't come into play often. 
 
     Also... While it's possible the Cambridge police think the same way you do, there are also not so many Blacks as I understand it in the neighborhood who might be filming.  If you accept race as a factor at all, that diminishes the chance that any pictures would be transmitted to contest the police report.  Speaking more generally, I'm not totally convinced that all police see counterevidence as likely...  Nor that their internal review procedures cannot be manipulated by good old boy networks, playing off bad actions in a good light to save on some fumbles.   

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Ah, now you stereotype the police.  Sgt Crowley has a spotless disciplinary record.  He has no history in his file of being involved in any similar incidents. 
     This might help.  However, if few Blacks live in the neighborhood, there will be less likelihood of race claims too.  Also, recall what I said about the law being open to interpretation.  People can apply it in nasty ways without necessarily breaking "procedure" or being cited.

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  Are you saying that if Gates had been white, but acted in the same manner, the police would have walked away?  I would completely disagree with you on that.  Disorderly behavior is the same no matter who engages in it.  I don't pick and choose which laws I enforce based on the ethnicity of the suspected perpetrator.  Of course this is anecdotal, because I speak only for myself.
But I have enough time as a police officer (15 years) to see that this police behavior which you make out to be so common is actually exceedingly rare.  In fact, I myself have never seen preferential treatment given by individual officer based on ethnicity.
     There are a couple possibilities here.  One is that you have a narrower, and possibly somewhat race-blind, definition of bias.  You might be operating in a culture that explains it away as something else.  Race bias in general is quite prevalent.  Or you could be in a pretty progressive unit, or (I doubt you'd say it then but possibly) a place with few or less visible minorities - possibly less class friction.
     While the average encounter is not precisely the same (those class issues), I believe NYT cited a Los Angeles study that showed Blacks were disproportionately detained without good cause - and they are still struggling after some years to reform.  My colleagues in sociology, who are generally speaking more educated in race issues, have stated in classes with conviction that bias in surveillance and detainment based on race is common.  I can't look around tonight, but my bet is the research shows some bias. 
     Even if it was not consciously so for Crowley, Obama did not go so far as to assume that Crowley acted in a racist manner.  He was particularly concerned because Gates had apparently proven he was not trespassing etc.  Obama simply pointed out how in such a political context, race issues are bound to arise and it becomes a public spectacle.  At that point, politicians have to respond and it's fair to discuss real problems larger than the individual officer.

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If Gates disbelieved Crowley's ID, why then did he not call 911 to report a police impersonator?  There would have been a much faster response.  Instead, he tried to get the Cambridge Police Chief on the line.  Why not a lieutenant?  No.  Gates was attempting to scare Crowley by virtue of political connections.  Gates is friends with a Chief, you see.  He's a very important person!  Like I said, I have been in the exact same scenario Crowley was in.  When Gates refused to quiet down, he escalated the situation all by himself. 
     You seem to assume that Gates knows a lot about police procedure.  Personally, I would never have imagined that calling 911 would be a sure fix.  (For one thing, I've been kept waiting a good while by 911.) 
     Actually, though, I am more concerned about the question of who one can call if the police on scene are being inappropriate.  It seems to me that you want someone higher up for that.  The notion that no one should ever protest or question (unless the police bother to take it to court, when they feel it's worth their while and the politics are on their side) is very problematic to me. 

     You may be correct that Gates was connected.  That doesn't matter so much to me.  Lots of people are connected, and some of them also have good cause to be angry.  If Crowley did nothing inappropriate, then why should a call to downtown add to his desire to arrest Gates?  At the least, your position sounds like a defense based on insecurity with relation to class and employment.  It's not a crime on Gates' part.  Try someone under "public disorder" and in court you would say, "You see, he was going to bad mouth me to my chief and I know they golf together, so I had to cuff him."  Huh?   

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  This I will never understand.  First, police are assigned to guard what their supervisors tell them to guard.  The supervisors are told by the politicians what the police should guard.  You make it sound as if the police are some sort of independent shadow government, beholden to none.  When I am assigned a sector during patrol, I patrol that sector.  I don't decide to go patrol the nicer neighborhood, because I like rich or white people better.  I do my job, and my job is dictated ultimately by elected officials.
     I didn't say the police were "beholden to none."  When I say they give less priority to some areas then others, I mean that is also consistent with political rewards for doing so (but they may have to perform that way more informally than where orders are less explicit).  I understand there is a class hierarchy leading the police chain of command to a significant degree. 
     My point was, if you try to justify Gates' arrest partly by saying he shouldn't get off due to class...  We may disagree on this.  But, I don't believe Whites in a similar situation are arrested as often, for the same sort of five-minute argument.  There may be other factors like geography, but I have seen other comments online to this effect - that people yell on their lawns all the time, sometimes at police, and it blows over with no arrests. 
     Alternatively, do you suppose there are only a few cases where people are rich enough and troublesome enough to be made an example of through arrest - but those are not racially divided?  Perhaps we could research that, if they are rare but you see this as such an example. 
 

Quote
  About protests:  I recognize the right of people to peacably assemble for redress of grievances.  But I also recognize the right of other people, who are not involved in the protest, to be able to come and freely, whether it be to their workplaces or otherwise... [snip]
     I read this; I was thinking more of my pet disaster, the 2004 Republican National Convention.  Your reasoning might apply if you think it excuses arrests and dispersal of hundreds of peaceful people who did not clog vehicular traffic, many blocks away from the meetings they sought to approach.  However, other protestors were allowed to walk around in front of hotels as long as they kept moving.  To me, it looks more like a choice to allow scattered protest but not large, visible ones.  Especially when the riot police come in force where few businesses (and less media!) are operating.

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In addition, again you make the case that the police officer on the street is the one who is deciding on his own where the protestors are allowed and disallowed....
     I didn't explain it well.  There were other situations at the RNC where regular uniforms (some from out of town) manned small barricades and would selectively search or bar access - based on whether one wore a protest t-shirt etc.  Sometimes they would not allow people with protest t-shirts into certain subway entrances, while others passed.  National Lawyers Guild told me those actions are both patently illegal.  I'm not saying it was the officers' choice precisely.  It was just more evidence that police are deployed to back class interests.  (Kind of ironic that you argue Gates shouldn't "get off" on class connections actually - just an observation.) 
   
Quote
  Can you say with certainty that Crowley had similar encounters in the past with other upper class homeowners, but did not arrest them because they were white?
     You're missing my point when you try to depict the situation as some personalized vendetta against Crowley or his job.  The initial question as I understood it, was more whether Obama's comments had some basis.  As I've said above, in broader terms, I believe they do because there are patterns of racist treatment -- not necessarily by Crowley, but through police actions.  We may disagree about that.  At that point, we might be better going off to find the research.

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Disorderly Conduct is described in the penal law, very thoroughly.
     It might be interesting to check it out...  But coming from a sexual minorities perspective, I am very used to seeing long, "thorough" legal documents sliced and diced to discriminate and rationalize in so many ways.  The simple claim that it's all on paper doesn't hold much weight with me.  On paper, a good chunk of Elliquiy also has mental health issues.  Or I should say, parts of what is written in the psych regulations would be interpreted so that biased people can draw that conclusion.  I think you can do much the same thing with law.

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Middle and upper class homeowners are not regularly arrested for acting in a disorderly manner out of proportion to the frequency they engage in it.  Neither are lower class homeowners or renters. 
     Assuming that's the case...  The question remains of whether "disorderly" is being applied the same way across races.     

Quote
One factor is if the party opposite the police quiets down quickly enough.  I have walked into disputes, etc, where the crowd or individual was boisterous.  I didn't immediately start throwing people into custody.  I always ask for quiet first.  If the party continues to act in a loud or aggresive manner, their chances of being arrested rise exponentially.  There are also cases where the police must make an arrest.
     Okay.  If you could do that for a crowd, do you think Crowley couldn't wait five minutes for one guy on his own porch harming no one directly, to chill out.  And was it necessary for him to remain right there watching when Gates was protesting specifically about his presumptions and continued presence?  This wasn't a mob scene, but Crowley chose to represent a protest against himself in terms of a threat to the neighbors or the spirit of community. 

I'll stick by what I've said previously as far as Obama's comments. 
We seem to just differ on that.


Offline Banderas

Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #35 on: August 04, 2009, 09:47:24 AM »
I certainly understand why you felt the need to respond to this.  I have a good friend that is a police officer, and he's explained to me if you attack one cop, it's as good as attacking them all.

Ah yes: The Blue Line.  The vast majority of police, no matter where they work, share very similar experiences.  When I read about the Gates/Crowley incident, I knew I had experienced many times what Crowley did before.

Really, the only ones who know what really happened are the individuals that were there.  In my experience, the truth is usually somewhere between both sides of the story.  My friend has admitted to me that he and his co workers have occasionally bent the rules and fudged the facts on police reports when a person they were dealing with was pissing them off.  He has a spotless record because no one has ever been able to prove anything.  It's his word against the other person's.  And while the public may believe the person and make the cop the bad guy as you say, the people that matter usually believe the officer.  You said yourself, had there not been such a fuss over this the charges would've probably stuck.

Yes, police do sometimes fudge reports.  The key word you used is "occasionally".  Ask your friend: Nothing is more important to a police than to go home at the end of the day, and to reach that sought after pension when their time is done.  A police officer who routinely changes facts routinely risks his entire career and criminal sanctions.  Police who make a habit out of this almost always get caught, eventually.  And for what?  The person arrested is very often likely to be back out on the street within forty-eight hours if the offense is a misdemeanor or low-level non-violent felony.

What I object to is what has become commonplace in american society:  The painting of the entire police force in this country with a broad brush:  "It's well known that police are racist", and the like.  Of course we have our bad apples; but they are the exception rather than the rule, and to make cavalier comments about the police in general is thoughtless and irresponsible.

How many times have I heard from someone, "Why don't you go look for murderers?"  Yes, why don't all the police concentrate every resource to the apprehension of murderers, and neglect everything else?  I can imagine that: "Sorry, but we no longer engage in traffic enforcement, because that is petty compared to every police officer's true goal: The tracking down and apprehension of only those that commit the most heinous of felony crimes."  Quality of life issues?  Forget about those.  I drive right on by in my mission to take every murderer and rapist off the street, ignoring everything else.

 
Now I'm not saying cops are corrupt or bad people....  I'm just saying y'all are human.  My friend is a great guy, hence why he's my friend.  He follows the law for the most part and generally is nice when people cooperate with him.  He isn't racist, and you may not be racist, but racist cops do exist.

Exist they do, but to use Department of  Justice statistics to point this out is dishonest.  To arrest people in strict accordance to their proportion within the population is unrealistic.  Arrests and encounters on the street often reflect descriptions given by 911 callers or open criminal complaints.  All other things being equal, if a robbery victim tells the 911 dispatcher that he was robbed by a male white in his 20's, I will not canvass the area looking for a male black in his fifties just so I can skew the numbers to a more politically acceptable ratio.

What really happened will probably never be known.  But I was talking to my friend about this and he agrees with me that this was probably a mix of arrogance and pride.  Gates was arrogant because he was important, and Sgt Crowley was upset, just like you said you have been upset by people who pull that shit.  He probably wanted to stick it to the arrogant prick, so arrested him because he could.  But of course this is all speculation, and who knows.... 
[/color]

I say this:  If Crowley is the one who is lying, then let him be disciplined by his Police Department.  Why should he lie in this case, though?  Gates was yelling and refused to stop when requested.  It may have something to do with pride on Crowley's part, but maybe Gates would have been arrested regardless.  I am just as likely to arrest the person who rants and raves about unrelated topics as I am to arrest the person who rants and raves he will have my job.  Mind you, arresting the arrogant prick is more satisfying than the other, but I am obliged to arrest them both.

Gates may always bring a lawsuit against Crowley in the end, but he won't.  Gates knows he is wrong, and that is why he hasn't brought this matter any further.  Gates told his side of the story to the press, and began the firestorm.  He is satisfied, as he has just upped his cred.  The consequences of his actions are beyond him.  People who can not afford to vacation in Martha's Vinyard (as Gates does) have been arrested and have brought lawsuits against their arresting officers.  And they win more frequently than you might guess. 

 

Offline Serephino

Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #36 on: August 04, 2009, 09:25:50 PM »
I didn't say Crowley was lying.  Gates may have very well been ranting and raving.  And according to my friend if that was the case then it was a legal arrest.  However, in most cases he himself usually tries to get the people involved to calm down and act civil.  It just seems like Crowley got pissed at the insults and didn't handle the situation as maybe he should have.   

I guess it depends on the individual.  My friend is half Cuban and half British, but is generally labeled Hispanic.  He's dealt with racism from fellow officers, but he said he gets it worse from white people he pulls over or arrests.  Calling him a damn Mexican is not the best way to get on his good side.  He's more likely to try and calm down a person who is just upset than someone throwing racist slurs at him.

He's gotten the 'why don't you go look for murderers' line too.  People really don't take it well when they're arrested and they don't think they did anything wrong.  But the laws are there for a reason.  Chances are those same people will need him eventually for something that has nothing to do with a murder.  We both wonder what would happen and if it would teach them anything if he ignored them because the damn Mexican was harassing innocent people instead of trying to catch real criminals.   

Offline Phoenix

Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #37 on: August 04, 2009, 09:26:58 PM »
     I can understand the sentiment, but logically... I'm really having  a hard time imagining what Gates could have done in his own home or on his porch for that matter, within five minutes, that was really worthy of arrest - without significant bias or rashness by the police.  There may have been shared hastiness to go around and escalate it.  I think that is as far as I would offer, unless there's an unreported Molitov or something.

I don't think that, "they acted stupidly" really fits the situation, when your personal opinion is as much on the public's over-sensitive radar as someone of the political rank of President is.  So far, I haven't seen anything conclusively either direction that indicates whether what they did was stupid or not. I see a whole hell of a lot of posturing about it, but little actual facts that help support one side or the other. It's all "he said, he said."

Quote
     While I do feel that many of his speeches have been more effective for being more thoughtful, the points he made were more based on 1) widely accepted outlines of the situation at the time - I haven't seen much to contradict the basics still - and 2) on well-established racial issues.  He said as much.

I was speaking specifically to the single statement in the OP. "The police acted stupidly." The opinion that they were in the wrong could have been expressed in many ways, without the snide comment.
   
Quote
     He would have appeared out of touch not to point out obvious trends of racism in national policing (not the same thing as "slandering" an individual one).  There is a movement for Change.  His mandate is not to be the Great Mediator without opinion.  It's to resituate and begin to alleviate persistent issues. That doesn't happen by leaving them out of the discussion when questionable stuff arises.

That may well be, one way or the other. But again, I was speaking about a single comment, and you are carrying on about various and sundry other bits.

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...... And as to your taste for graphic fantasies involving the President, there are plenty of other boards.

WTF are you talking about? I don't believe I personally attacked you at any point, nor did I at any point behave as disrespectfully towards you, or to the President, as you just did to me. Please put this comment back in the place you pulled it out of. Thanks.

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Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #38 on: August 04, 2009, 10:45:39 PM »
Be civil please.

Offline kylie

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Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #39 on: August 05, 2009, 09:58:10 PM »
Quote from: Phoenix
I don't think that, "they acted stupidly" really fits the situation, when your personal opinion is as much on the public's over-sensitive radar as someone of the political rank of President is.  So far, I haven't seen anything conclusively either direction that indicates whether what they did was stupid or not. I see a whole hell of a lot of posturing about it, but little actual facts that help support one side or the other. It's all "he said, he said."

     In my opinion, much of what you hear in life - particularly through the news media - is he said, she said.  At some point, we all have to make our best guess what is more likely to be the case, and decide whether we want to say so or vote or dedicate our dollars somewhere, etc.  It is not perfect.  My understanding is this thing went on for a scant few minutes, and there was an arrest over something that was more likely to be a sensitive ego and/or racism than anything I would see as a matter worthy of prosecution.
 
Quote
I was speaking specifically to the single statement in the OP. "The police acted stupidly." The opinion that they were in the wrong could have been expressed in many ways, without the snide comment.

   If I remember correctly, the way Obama phrased it was they acted stupidly to arrest someone after he'd shown that he was in his own home. 

     As the discussion with Banderas I think shows pretty well, part of whether you see a problem with the comment depends on whether you believe it was likely the arrest was about 1) following procedure/law, 2) whether those are often interpreted racially and/or 3) who they met and "did they happen to get along" type of issues.  I think it was more about #2 and/or 3, and that should hardly be worth an arrest.  If you think there is really a probability Gates did something more scary and destructive in those five minutes, that's your guess to make.  I just don't see much evidence or likelihood of that.
 
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WTF are you talking about? I don't believe I personally attacked you at any point, nor did I at any point behave as disrespectfully towards you, or to the President, as you just did to me. Please put this comment back in the place you pulled it out of. Thanks.

I think that he does best with teleprompters and someone to "politicise" his speeches for him. He tends to sometimes be a bit too human for most people's sensibilities without someone to stuff a cane up his nethers and make him properly political.

     While I'll grant you it's a subjective call, I think it's fair to argue lots of people would see some sexual objectification in that particular figure of speech.  Perhaps in other settings, people would say that talk about pushing things in and pulling them out (as in "the place you pulled it out of," above) are quick and fiesty ways to talk politics, and nothing more.  Perhaps they are used against all comers.  Personally, I don't find they add much to the discussion.

           

Offline Phoenix

Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #40 on: August 06, 2009, 07:41:35 PM »
I don't know where you are from, but "He has a stick up his ass" is a very, very common way of saying someone is overly formal or stiffly proper. Politicians in general, president or otherwise, are considered by many to be overly formal, overly stiff and proper. It really has nothing at all to do with sex, it's an impolite way of saying "loosen up." Which also, by the way, has nothing at all to do with sex, in case you're going to come up with some bizarre thing about me having an enema fetish because I said "loosen up."  ::)

Offline Caeli

Re: Obama's comment on the Cambridge Police
« Reply #41 on: August 06, 2009, 10:33:24 PM »
Phoenix, for the second time, please be civil.