Showing Skip Gates who’s boss
How “tumultuous” is an American citizen entitled to be in his or her own home? I always thought that the space for such behavior in your own home was supposed to be pretty large, as long as you didn’t disturb the neighbors. But thanks to the Cambridge (Mass.) Police Department, I’ve been disabused of that notion.
It sounds from the news stories I’ve read as if Henry Louis “Skip” Gates was not exactly a model of calm rationality in his encounter last week with the Cambridge police. Had he been less exhausted (after traveling from China), less irritated (after having had to force open a balky door to his house), he might have been more understanding of and accommodating to the officer sent to check a report of two black men (Gates and a cabbie) possibly breaking into a house.
But Gates wasn’t. He was exhausted and irritated and, some reports said, slightly under the weather. And the last thing he wanted was to be confronted by a cop asking why this black man was in this house–his house.
Again, I am relying on news accounts, which may or may not be full and accurate. But it appears that Gates finally did show the police identification that demonstrated who he was and that the house was his own. So why does any extracurricular shouting and remonstrating matter. Why was his “tumultuous” behavior in his own home considered grounds for an arrest (never mind that the charge has now been dropped)?
Why, indeed? Unless the purpose was to show an uppity black man who was boss?