Sometimes, words can speak louder than actions. This is evident in the recent uproar surrounding the Harvard University incident that lead to the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. (At press time, charges against Gates had been dropped.)
The incident can serve to edify outside of the controversial racial context. As a flawed optimist, I want to believe all factions acted with the best of intentions, like the driver who jumped in to assist the professor in opening the door, the concerned neighbor who moved to alert police, the officer who responded on behalf of public safety. These acts are all presumably meant to be of help to another, and that's something of note. While I understand part of the controversy is in the ironic theory that the race relations professor was allegedly profiled in his own community, it is not my point nor purpose to opine on that.
However, in response to a column defending the professor, a Boston officer allegedly sent a critical e-mail to a newspaper that contained racial slurs as well as demeaning language toward women.
Though an officer may spend each shift on his best behavior and work diligently for the public to protect, assist and serve its citizens, one rambling stream of unabated consciousness can negate all of those good deeds. If you're behind a badge it's not hard to draw up the argument against speaking out so brazenly, unedited. And while our constitution protects hate speech, law enforcement management personnel can't afford to have doubt — especially racially driven accusations — cast upon the officer on the witness stand for any reason.
Taking a step back to understand what unconscious biases, if any, accompanied the actions is another thing, and not totally inappropriate. To those ends, I can't speak on behalf of any of the parties involved, nor can I proffer who is culpable or for what injustice.
I'm sure the Boston officer is not alone in his opinion, but if he is indeed the author of the e-mail that's got the nation hot-blooded, he's now standing very vulnerably on his own, with his badge and character on the line.