Oh, fine. I get up, still groggy, from a perfectly lovely nap, my defenses are down, I’m still savoring that dream where Mookie Betts, Chester A. Arthur and Danny Kaye drop by with some macaroons, and what is the first thing I read?
There goes my head, all over my office and this transcript I have to read in ten minute increments because it’s so boring. Oh, thank you, thank you so much, City of Seattle and your ridiculous Chief of Police, Carmen Best!
What’s “this” you ask? Well, let me get one of those jumbo rolls of Bounty I’m keeping in the trunk of my car, and wipe off the keyboard—there. Now you can read this too, but watch your head…
In a regular video feature called “Chief’s Brief”—see how they sucked me in with a harmless-looking screen?
—The Chief of Police introduced a local journalist who briefly spoke abut the importance of reporting ” hate crimes.” Usually that topic would put my head on full alert, but the yumminess of those dream macaroons were still on my mind, so I wasn’t ready when the Chief came back on the screen and said,
“We will document and investigate every reported hate crime Even racist name-calling should be reported to police. If you aren’t sure if a hate crime occurred, call 911. We are here to help.”
No, you are apparently there to misinform the Seattle area about what constitutes a hate crime and what the First Amendment means. Incredibly, this video was seen by the journalist, Lori Matsukawa, the technicians who helped record it, and probably Best’s superiors, and nobody had adequate ethics alarms, or a sufficient high school education, to speak up and say, “Uh, Chief? You can’t tell people to call 911 to report what they think constitutes “racist name-calling.” Name-calling, any kind of name calling, is not against the law, and cannot be against the law. That’s a pure, uncontroversial, First Amendment protection.”
Unfortunately, I might add, “And incidentally, what’s the matter with you? Didn’t they teach you about the First Amendment in your police training? Don’t you know the limitations on what the police can and can’t control? I see in your bio that you graduated from Lincoln High School in Tacoma, 1983 and attended Eastern Washington University until you joined the United States Army. Eventually, you got undergraduate degree from Western Illinois University. You graduated from the police academy. You received a certificate in police management from the University of Washington, a Master’s in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University, completed the FBI National Academy, the Criminal Justice Executive Leadership Academy, and the Senior Management Institute for Police. You have served in the Seattle Police Department for 26 years , and with all that, you never read the Bill of Rights, or learned the basic fact of life in the United States that the government can not and must not tell citizens what they can and cannot say, which is what announcing that it is appropriate to call 911 when someone thinks another citizen has engaged in name-calling?
The Washington Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is obligated, now, to publicly rebuke the Chief, as are the editors of every Seattle publication. Then there should he an investigtaion of all the institutions that passed best along to her current position, to determine how it is even possible that someone could rise to Chief of Police of a major metropolis either so ignorant of this basic principle of U.S. law, or so willing to defy it.