Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A teaching moment

The Gates-Crowley scandal has pretty much come to an end. A call to the police about the possible burglary in progress, the police's attempt to check it out, the resident freaking out and yelling at the police, his arrest - ill-advised or not - the president's comments - ill-advised or not, etc. Our peacemaker-in-chief managed to reconcile the professor and the officer with the help of a sufficient amount of beer. The nation had its teaching moment.

What exactly did we learn? Not being an officer of law, a professor of African-American studies or a president, but just a simple American woman with a computer and Net access, I have followed the story of the woman who called the possible burglary in, and learned the following things:

- don't ever mention the race of a possible suspect to a 911 dispatcher, even if they are asking about it. To be on the safe side, don't mention the sex, either. Or the species. Or the number. "N beings are trying to break down the door." Or, to be on a safer side, just don't call the police when you see somebody breaking into somewhere,
- if you have exercised bad judgment and called the police, record the call yourself, so that you can have immediately available proof that you have not in fact mentioned race or anything else that might possibly describe the suspect,
- if the suspected burglar turns out to be a sufficiently privileged person, retain an attorney.

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