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Gates-Gate: Explained and Expounded

Last night, President Obama voiced his opinion on the wrongful arrest of the Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., saying that police officers acted stupidly, and pointing out, quite accurately, that racial profiling remains a serious issue. Today, Slate has a great Explainer piece that delves into the murky legal territory of what actually happened. A snippet:Gates repeatedly requested the arresting officer's name and badge number. Gates says the officer provided neither, although the officer claims that he did, in fact, state his name. Was the officer required to provide this information?Yes. Massachusetts law requires police officers to carry identification cards and present them upon request. Officers are also required to wear a "badge, tag, or label" with their name and/or identifying number. The law is aimed at precisely the situation in question-suspects who feel their rights are being violated.There's also a pretty healthy debate going on at The Times's opinion blog, with contributions from an assortment of writers and scholars. If you ask me, though, the most compelling find in that treasure chest of perspective doesn't come from the debate per se, but in the form of a link to Gates's "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man" (registration necessary). It's pretty much required reading for most humanities (especially lit) majors, so I imagine many people have already encountered it in spiral-bound, xeroxed form-same goes for his awesome book "The Signifying Monkey"-but, given the man's current situation, it's certainly worth revisiting.

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