The Law is Reason, Free from Passion

The original quotation “the law is reason unaffected by desire” is taken from Works of Aristotle Vol. iii edited by W. David Ross. It means that law or edict is meant to be followed in order to uphold certain norms and standards set by the society and government of the land. There is no room for personal feelings or obsessions based on those feelings. Or in other words, you cannot allow personal prejudices or subjective interpretations to interfere with your decision making and dispensation of the law of the land.

An executor of the law has to be single-minded and devoted to the goal of acting according to what the law says. One needs to be very logical and not prejudge based on emotions. Sergeant Crowley was only carrying out his duty when he arrested Prof. Gates on the charge of ‘disorderly conduct’. It is another matter that the whole incident could have been averted if both Prof. Gates and the police officer had maintained a level head and calm demeanor.

However, to insinuate that Sergeant Crowley was motivated by racial prejudice is rather unfortunate. He is held in high esteem by his superiors and peers in the force and has the reputation of being a fair and dutiful public servant. To associate him with being racial because of the nature of his work is unjustified. The point to be considered is how would Crowley have acted had Prof. Gates not been a colored gentleman? From the information gleaned of this case one would assume that he would have behaved in exactly the same way.

Crowley has eleven years experience in the police force and is quoted to have said, “He was arrested after following me outside the house, continuing the tirade even after being warned multiple times - probably a few more times than the average person would” (Ford & Schapiro). This shows us that he might have been provoked and angered by Prof. Gates’ invectives. Under different circumstances he might have acted with more restraint. In this incident, Prof. Gates does not seem to have acted as a critical thinker because he seemed to have prejudged Crowley’s intentions and made a false judgment.

This was perhaps because he had had a long and tiring journey back home from China and was in no mood to accommodate police inquiries at his own residence on some innocuous grounds. So, technically speaking, though Crowley was merely doing his duty, he could have shown a little more empathy and taken a softer line considering that Prof. Gates was not in the wrong. President Obama’s statement was probably taken out of context and the police force felt slighted.

But in the larger perspective of what he said at the press conference one would assume that he wanted to be fair to Prof. Gates because he hadn’t really done anything unlawful and had even provided his identification for the officer’s inspection. The President spoke of the larger picture of the image of the police force and sensitization process that needed to be enforced. Works Cited Ford, Beverly and Schapiro, Rich. “St. James Crowley. ” Daily News Writers. 24 Jul. 2009. Web. 28 May 2010. Obama, Barack. "Cambridge Cops. " Speech. 22 Jul. 2009. YouTube. 28 May 2010.