Ignoring the delightful "discussions" in this thread and going back to the Gates thing...
I've had very extensive conversations with academics, activists, police officers and chiefs, and studied tons about law enforcement (its one of my specialties at work actually). I wasn't there and neither were 99.999% of people talking about the situation so my opinion is based on a general impression I got from reading a couple of different angles.
Still, long story short, I think things would have been a LOT better had Sgt. Crowley had taken a page out of this famous Maine Statie's book
. I don't think him being an annoying asshole in front of a whole bunch of people was worthy of a disorderly conduct arrest and, honestly, had this been a non-Harvard professor I'm sure the charges would still be dropped as they were in this case (though probably not nearly as quickly).
Regardless, and this is advice I've given countless times, it doesn't matter who you are, what you drive, what your skin color is, or how much money you make, except for truly extreme situations (like being beaten or something) never EVER mouth off to a cop. Be respectful even if you think they are being rude, nasty, or racist. Chances are, if they're being rude, nasty racist etc. they're going to give you a ticket and that ticket must have their name and badge #. If you have a piece of paper and a pen handy write down exactly what happened ASAP. If you want to make a complaint do it as soon as you get home.
Call it being "weak" if you must, but I have never heard of anything good come from getting into an argument with a cop. It's like trying to cook spaghetti with a blow torch, it never works and you end up with a completely unnecessary mess.
Edited by Ser Aardvark, 24 July 2009 - 01:41 PM.