Hitchens on Gates

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Christopher Hitchens has the best commentary on the Gates incident in "A Man's Home Is His Constitutional Castle," observing that "I can easily see how a black neighbor could have called the police when seeing professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. trying to push open the front door of his own house...[a]nd I can also see how long it might take the misunderstanding to dawn on both parties." That recognition prompts Hitchens' central point--which cannot be overemphasized--that "whatever [Gates] said to the cop was in the privacy of his own home:"

It is monstrous in the extreme that he should in that home be handcuffed, and then taken downtown, after it had been plainly established that he was indeed the householder. [...] It is the U.S. Constitution, and not some competitive agglomeration of communities or constituencies, that makes a citizen the sovereign of his own home and privacy. There is absolutely no legal requirement to be polite in the defense of this right.

Hitchens concludes: "Professor Gates should have taken his stand on the Bill of Rights and not on his epidermis or that of the arresting officer, and, if he didn't have the presence of mind to do so, that needn't inhibit the rest of us."

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on August 1, 2009 9:48 AM.

Susan Jacoby: Alger Hiss and the Battle for History was the previous entry in this blog.

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