I find it hard to believe that American conservatives are defending the Cambridge police for arresting this man, a fifty eight year old scholar who walks with a cane, for speaking angrily to a policeman in his own home (ie., on his front porch). The right wing talking heads are saying that Gates was the wrongdoer here: the wrong he did was that of being "disrespectful" toward an officer of the law.
That is not a crime and should not be. Being "respectful" toward someone because they have a badge may or may not be prudent, wise, or moral, but it clearly is not your legal duty and should not be.
What kind of country would this be if "disrespect" for an officer of the state were a punishable criminal offense?
And surely, no sounds you are making on your own property, provided the sheer decibel level is not disturbing others, should be treated as "disturbing the peace" or "disorderly conduct."
Three things about this case seem obvious to me:
1. Prof. Gates should not have responded with instant anger with police answered a report of a break-in at his home.
2. Barack Obama should not have said that the police acted "stupidly" before knowing the facts. (He seemed to think that Gates was being arrested as an intruder after having proved that he wasn't one.)
3. Officer Crowley should not have arrested this man, taken him away in handcuffs, and forced him to submit to the above mug shot, simply for speaking angrily to a police officer in his own home.
Of these three, the worse offense by far -- by far -- is the third, because it is the only one that involves an assault on the person of a human being who is not violating anyone else's rights.
The fact that there are conservatives who don't get this seems to show an unbecoming desire to bow and scrape before authority.