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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Basic Biittner : In my Opinion ...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yes, you read correctly. Despite my recent declaration that I have no strong opinions about anything, and that this column should not be thought of as an "opinion" column, there are a couple of news items recently about which I feel the need to express an opinion.

The first one concerns the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. Though it appears she will be confirmed for the post, there was an uproar among some about a statement Judge Sotomayor once made about her being a Latina woman, and,as such, this gives her a unique perspective and understanding in some cases. My opinion is that the judge was not saying that latinos and hispanics would get special consideration from her, she was just stating what her background is, and felt she would offer a fair and considered judgment because she had "been there, done that," and would be able to understand and appreciate both sides of a case. Get over it, already. She would not have advanced as far as she has if she was a biased individual.

The second item involves the recent incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts where the police reportedly responded to a suspected break-in at a home, and eventually wound up handcuffing the home owner, a distiguished professor who is African-American, even though they reportedly had learned that he was the home owner and was not breaking in. The police say the professor was yelling insults at them and suggesting they were harassing him because of his race, and that's why they handcuffed him, not because they assumed he was beaking into the house because he is black.

It seems to me that this is a classic case of "he said, she said" (though both individuals are male). The professor is an acknowledged authority on "racial profiling," and is probably very sensitive about any case he feels smacks of this - especially when it involves him. It is also true that the Boston area was - at one time - a difficult area for African - Americans to advance (as it was in many other cities). However, it seems to me that a likely scenario is that the policeman, in doing his job in responding to a report, got verbally attacked, if you will, by the racial profile-sensitive professor, and things just snowballed (no pun intended) from there. Had a person of any other race been as uncooperative with the officer, I'm thinking that the officer would have attempted to calm him down also and, if they persisted, be forced to resort to handcuffs, tasing, or whatever means he felt were necessary. He could have just walked away, I suppose, but I imagine that was not an option he seriously considered, because that reaction might have led to a reprimand from his supervisors, fearing that he might respond like that in other, more serious, criminal situations.

I guess what I'm saying in both of these cases is "Chill out, people." Take a deep breath, get the facts, and weigh them out before you act, or re-act.

And that includes you, too, President Obama. Before you attach the "stupid" label to anyone's actions, think about the fact that, as President of the United States, everything you say draws worldwide attention. In your staement on the above matter, you prefaced it by acknowledgng that you didn't have all the facts in the matter. Perhaps a good rule-of-thumb for all of us to follow is this: If you are about to say that you don't have the facts, just say that and stop right there.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner