Finally! Now, finally, the national conversation about Professor Gates’s problems have moved beyond race and into the area where they belong: “contempt of cop”. But there is still a problem with the discussion: it’s focused on minorities’ experiences with the police. But that’s nonsense. I don’t care who you are, how old you are, what race you are, anything. If the police think you are not showing proper respect, you are going to be arrested. And hassled. And have to explain why you were arrested. All because you didn’t give the cop proper respect. Sometimes you have to decline to answer questions (like always) and the police arrest you just because. Sometimes you have to stand on your rights and not let them search your car or house. And they arrest you just because. That’s the bigger issue and nobody is talking about it.
But the best advice I’ve ever seen in this whole mess comes from Bill Maxwell, in the Tampa Bay Times. Maxwell says we “should be telling young black males [and everyone else] this: Without attitude or trash talk, obey when a police officer gives you a lawful order. Officers wear name plates on their shirts. Always memorize the name and rank of the officer you are dealing with for your lawyer if you think you will need one. You do not give up your manhood when you use your brains to survive. When encountering the police, your goal is to get home unscathed and without getting arrested.”
We need to have a conversation about “contempt of cop” and the police abuse of their powers.