Here's the 'Teachable Moment' in the Crowley / Gates case

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July 26, 2009

I am filled with breathless anticipation for the upcoming “teachable moment” in the Sgt. Crowley / Professor Gates case; this should be a great lesson for us all. So pay attention! This should be an action-packed 60 seconds.

1. We could all learn to leave a backup key or a hide-a-key nearby for when we lock ourselves out of our homes.

2. We might learn not to be so arrogantly superior and aloof that our own next-door-neighbors profile us as burglars.

3. Perhaps we will learn not to ask a cop if they know who he/she is dealing with? They don’t teach that at Harvard already?

4. I suspect we could all learn, if we don’t know it by now, don’t bring someone’s Mom into a verbal brawl. That NEVER goes well.

5. Maybe we’ll learn that people shouldn’t call others “stupid.” My Mom taught me that when I was 5 years old. Duuhhh.

6. I hope we learn to ignore the self-righteous-indignation of reporters and bloggers who clearly don’t understand the meaning of racial profiling.

7. How about a healthy dose of reality and comprehension that TV anchors read scripts from Teleprompters and some haven’t one single clue about the topic at hand?

8. I sure am counting on learning to ignore those so filled with hatred and dis-ease that ANY opportunity is a chance to call another a racist.

9. Will we finally learn that partisan pundits will scream anything to get themselves back on camera? Honest, it’s true.

Wow! We do have quite a bit to learn, I guess.

Hopefully, Jim, Hank and President Obama will craft a lesson plan over a white house beer.

Surely we’ll be “all ears,” as my grandmother was fond of saying.

I wonder if they will have a domestic or an import?


To learn more about Brian Brawdy and for tips, news and commentary on emergency preparedness, outdoor exploration and survival, please visit

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  1. Timmay

    Let me see if I can make this a little more RV friendly for those who ask what does this have to do with RV’ing.
    1. When hiding a key don’t use a fake rock, you’ll probably lose a lot of keys.
    2. Your next door niegbor changes often, even so, if your neighbor was having problems you would go over and offer to help knowing you would be well greeted and would have no need to call the cops.
    3. If some one reported a break in the cop thinks he’s dealing with a burglar. duhh
    4. Still stands, don’t bring some one’s mamma into any arguement. She might be napping in the back after all.
    5. Never call any one stupid when they can hear you. Remember some of our RV walls are very thin, ispecially if you have a tent or pop up camper.
    6. When you start thinking about trading your rig in don’t let the sales man sell you a rig, buy what you want and need. Just because he doesn’t like fifth wheels doesn’t mean his tt that is on sale is the way that every one should go. Don’t let his prejudice lead you into making a bad choice for yourself and your family.
    7. Remember that sales man doesn’t have a clue about how you use your rig and what you like and dislike. After all, he doesn’t live in it, he just read the brocure.
    8. Your sales man isn’t a racist because he wants to sell you a tt when you want a fifth wheel. Just go find another sales man that will sell you what you want to buy.
    9. Don’t let a sales man that you’ve already written off get back in by making a bunch of phone calls. Remember he’s a racist that is just screaming some new to try to get you interested again.

    Happy camping.

    I liked the article, even if it didn’t have anything to do with camping.

  2. Tony

    As a retired police officer, with several years as a trainer of other officers, I can attest to the fact that often, reported break-ins turn out as in this instance: someone locked out, or otherwise forced to break into their own home. Many, many times I (and/or other officers) have had to ask homeowners for ID to verify their assertions that they were the residents. The overwhelming majority of times, the homeowners appreciated this service, and everything went smoothly. A few times, the resident was a bonehead, and things got ugly. There were other times when one of our officers was the bonehead; same result… The (incorrect) kneejerk reaction of the media and many others, that this was a race issue, is exactly what turned this into a race issue, which is the aim of many, including, apparently, Professor Gates. NOW CAN WE PLEASE GET BACK TO RV’ing?????

  3. Indeed a teachable moment… What I’ve learned is that apparently the right wing has no regard for personal liberty, and if they get back in control, be prepared to show your papers on demand- even in your own home.
    Rather frightening, to me.

  4. Craig McCrodden

    If I had just come home to my home and found an officer of the law snooping around my property I would be more than happy to show my ID anything after that and Mr Gates was out of line. The officer was doing nothing more than his duty. He came to the neighborhood in search of an intruder. Do not let a purp out of your sight till you know definitively that he is the owner of the premesis… First rule of LE…

  5. Jack Harrell

    I can’t get over the leftist that want to get in their 2 cents worth but get bent out of shape when the opposing view is expressed.
    If an officer had knocked on my door and stated that there had been a report that someone was breaking into my house I would have shown the officer ID and thanked him for checking on it. If he had been more aggressive after that I would have advised him that he had been shown ID and that it is easy to determine if that is the name of the owner. I would definitely not have verbally attacked the officer and called him names or accused him of being racist regardless of his race.
    If I were an officer that was investigating a possible break-in I would be very cautious and aware that I might be attacked at any moment by an intruder. Even though I would be experienced in this kind of situation I’m sure the adrenalin would be pumping and I would not be too tolerant of any aggression from the “possible intruder”.
    If I were President of the United States and someone asked me a question during a news conference and I didn’t have the facts (even if it concerned my best friend) I would have said I really do not know any of the facts and therefore am not able to comment on it.
    Racism is a two way street and Mr. Gates has a reputation for being a racist himself and speaking of being, speaking and writing from a racist point of view, has anyone read “The Audacity of Hope”?

  6. Tommy

    The more facts we learn from the media, the more we learn the Sgt did his job exactly as he was trained. Also, we learn another officer was with him at the time – an officer you would think the self-aggrandized professor could relate with (but, apparently not).

    In the end, the rules our mother taught us (or, should have) would have served both the professor and the POTUS well.


  7. bob


  8. Vegasdan

    Robert said “This is supposed to be an RVing Site, not a forum for right-wing political crap!” I guess that lets Bob Difley get away with that left-wing political crap. 🙂

  9. Manuel Enos

    Nothing to do with RVng but a great blog!!! Har De Har Matey!! The Pres. should have stayed away from it. He is not the Father of the country even though he is trying to reshape it in his own image!!

  10. Daniel, Daniel, Daniel….
    You ignored point #4. Perhaps if we are ever in the same neck of the woods, I’ll have you over for the beer. My treat.
    For those disappointed that I do not stick to RVing topics, I apologize. “I could have calibrated those (posts) differently.”
    I am honored to be a full-time RV’er and truly enjoy the spirited debates brought by those that know what it is like to bring the faraway to their own front door.
    RV’ers, I believe, are our last mavericks, NOT the “gas-guzzling,” “McMansion driving,” “environmentally cruel,” “Franken-bus living” monsters that we are accused of being.
    Guess recreational profiling does strike a nerve in me.

  11. JayAre62

    I have to admit this is not exactly the type of forum I would have anticipated finding a political discourse. Here’s my two cents, BHO is really doing a stellar job of being a “uniter” isn’t he? I think his election has actually done more to scratch the scab off of that sore than anyone in recent memory. I’d be willing to speculate that David Duke couldn’t’ve done as good a job in as short a period of time, of inflaming racial tensions had he been elected to the office of POTUS.


    Brian – you sure know how to get a multitude of responses!! I couldn’t agree more and I don’t think it is right wing dribble. Nice not knowing you, Daniel!! You definitely spout left wing s#1+!

    I do think the whole episode is exactly what you say it is: A good lesson in how a US president can learn to think and do some research before he sticks his foot in his mouth and causes unnecessary distractions from much more important issues; and, a good lesson in how two people could interact with some much needed civility to get through an uncomfortable sitiuation. Before you make a stink, put your feet in the other guys shoes and see how they wear! That’s all! Simple.

    Here is a much more important issue – when will we get this economy back on track so I can retire and become a full-timer!! Let’s get back to solving this little issue!!!

  13. Darthvagrant

    Bye bye, Daniel. You won’t be missed. Youe crude cliche (relative to eating) make little sense, is ignorant and is quite irritating.

  14. Robert Coleman

    This is supposed to be an RVing Site, not a forum for right-wing political crap!

  15. Joeseph

    Roger in Ohio – a couple of your facts are off, which is understandable since the media has had them wrong too. A recording of the 911 call that started this mess was released today. The 911 caller wasn’t even sure what race the potential intruders were. She didn’t mention a race, and when asked by the operator, said ‘hispanic maybe’.

    The 911 caller was not a neighbor, but worked very close by. She was NOT the person who first saw the guys banging on the door. An elderly neighbor saw them, and then asked the 911 caller to call the police. In the 911 recording, the caller even says that she probably would not have noticed the men if not for the other lady.

    More evidence comes out every day, and the story changes. Maybe we all should follow the lesson that the President should have followed and keep our mouths shut if we can’t be 100% sure about what happened. None of us, including Obama, really know what went on.

  16. Carl Stark

    Political bias and political spouting are noted, but I would prefer that they stay out of the RVing site that I have enjoyed so much in the past. But, unfortunately, it seems to be in the site more and more lately. Can we somehow refocus and stay on task: RVing.

  17. Nancy Keenan-Rich

    I don’t agree with # 2 and # 8. Who said Gates was arrogant? An upstanding citizen black or white would feel offended and angry if a police officer knocked on the
    door asking for ID in one’s own home. We haven’t witnessed the exchange, the tone
    of voice of the officer or Gates. Once he realized a mistake had been made the officer should have had the common sense to back off. If it’s ok for the officer to take offense and arrest the man than it should be ok for Gates to feel affronted and upset. Especially a black man….given our nation’s ugly history. This was not just any opportunity to call someone a racist. I don’t the Crowley is a racist, per se, but I think race entered into it. And blacks have every right to be sensitive about how they are treated. Note: not getting jobs due to race, recall the Boston man who killed his wife and blamed it on a black man, recall the black man shot many times in NYC by several cops because they “thought” he had a gun. Notice the “birther” group growing angry about Obama’s birth certificate?

  18. Roger-Ohio

    In general an interesting post. Too bad you stray from facts and possibly some bias is showing.
    1. The door of the house was not locked but stuck
    2. The woman that made the 911 call is not a neighbor but works “up the street”
    3. Can you cite the source of your claim that Gates said that?
    4. You are correct but Gates claims he did not say that
    5. through 9. I agree

    Maybe Officer Crowley’s initial error was believing that “Witnesses are inherently reliable” . A recent research study shows that 75 %, involved eyewitnesses erring in the identification. In 38 %, multiple eyewitnesses misidentified the same innocent person.”
    ( see

    Maybe Prof Gates initial error was interpreting Crowley’s request that he step outside his home, the act of a racist based on the research and experiences Gates has written about on the last couple hundred years of Slavery and Jim Crow segregation.

    Ask yourself what your reaction would be if someone of a different race knocked on the door of your RV when you are parked at Wally-World and said you need to step out and prove you are the owner.

    Should Gates have realized that you can’t antagonize the police? Probably.
    Should Crowley have understood what it means to suspect a black man of breaking into his own home? Probably.

    To those that believe Crowley is 100% in the right, ask yourself how often you have been asked to prove that you own your RV or are who you say you are when someone knocks on the door of your home.
    To any readers of RV-Net that believe that Gates acted correctly ask yourself how often you placed your life in danger when confronting unknown individuals.

    Bottom line. Why did the woman call 911? Are you 100% certain that if the woman was black or Gates and the driver were white the call would have been made in the first place?

    We are all shaped by our life experiences. If you had grown up being stopped by police simply because you were black and driving in a white neighborhood you might see racism in an otherwise normal act. If your career put your life in danger when confronted with unknown individuals or situation you might find that you distrust a significant portion of the population.

    If we are really being honest we all have some level of prejudice whether it is skin color, age, ethnic origin, level of education, sexual orientation, etc, etc.

  19. daniel

    Your mother might have taught you a lot, but she didn’t teach you not to shit where you eat. I signed up for your RV website to get information, not right wing political dribble. Remove me from your blog…and by the way your spell checker and syntax checker don’t work well, either.

  20. Bulldog

    Unfortunately, like “Common Sense”, most of those lessons will be beyond their comprehension. The sanctimonious will continue on their merry way thinking they are always right and the rest of us are just poor misguided folks that need their guidance. As for Prez BO, he should learn the lesson I received from my parents at an early age, “Think before you speak” or even, “Engage brain before opening mouth”.

  21. Actually, our president didn’t say he was stupid, he said they acted stupidly. When I saw Professor Gates’ picture, I recognized him immediately from his PBS specials, Oprah, etc., so I’m amazed that these officers didn’t know who he was. I don’t think this was racial profiling though, I’m a 67 year old white woman and amazed at how disrespectful and arrogant the police can be for no reason at all. I’d bet it was the attitude and arrogance of the cop that started this thing rolling. He can take all the classes he wants, but what he probably needs is behavior training.

  22. woof

    Perhaps the accusation of racial profiling first came when the professor called the cop a racist, he’s assuming all white police are racists(profile), rather than the cop assumning a black man was a burgler. Mr. Prez doesn’t have a dog in this fight and should have stayed out.

  23. Vegasdan

    The beer of choice for this little “get together” would have to be that wonderful swill from Kenya, Keroro who’s slogan is “Makes us equal-has no equal” Obama’s father’s favorite- by the way.

  24. Dennis D

    Could not agree more with the points made in this article! It is unfortunate that a college professor feels that he is above the law just because of his position and/or race. When I think of how I would react in that situation, I clearly come up with a different outcome. I would be grateful that a police officer was protecting my property and thank him for his diligence.

  25. Walt

    humorous, but what does any of this have to do with RVing?

  26. Ellen F

    This is a GREAT post!!!