The conversations at TNC’s spot on the Gates fiasco have been great to read, but this quote from a commenter named brent is really worth highlighting.
Setting aside all of the other meta-discussions on race and class that surround this issue, the thing about all of this that creeps me out the most is that so many people are willing to defend this officer who, assuming the most charitable possible interpretation, arrested a guy because he didn’t like his attitude. That is what [Mike Barnicle] is defending. That is what the execrable Mika Brzenski is defending. That is what I have read numerous commenters on a multitude of sites from the entire political spectrum defend.
They are, as far as I am concerned, defending the indefensible… [The panelists] were saying that if you cannot agree that arresting Gates was just plain wrong then there is no possibility of moving the argument forward. There is no good faith argument to be had without starting from the point that officers do not get to arrest a guy because he says unkind things to him.
I have decided that I no longer have anything to say to people who can, with a straight face, defend this nonsense. Forget about race. Forget about class. Forget whether or not Gates or Officer Crowley are nice guys who treat their mothers well. The bottom line here is that an officer used the authority of law to restrict the liberty of a man who was expressing displeasure with him. If you think that is right, then you fundamentally disagree with the basic principle of a free society.
That is not hyperbole. If you are willing to grant any individual with a gun and a badge the authority to arrest people because they don’t like them, then you and I share no common principle on liberty and the right of people to be free from oppression. None.