What’s better than a Boston cop emailing a newspaper specifically to call a black man a “banana eating jungle monkey”? Well when that same cop turns around and sues the police department for a civil rights violation. The Boston Globe reports:
Justin Barrett, the Boston police officer suspended from the force for his e-mail likening Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., to a “banana-eating jungle monkey,” has filed a lawsuit against the Police Department, police commissioner, and mayor, saying the city violated his civil and due process rights.
You know what would make this story perfect? If the cop who used racist slurs against Henry Louis Gates Jr. turned around and claimed intentional infliction of emotion distress:
The 18-page lawsuit accuses the three parties of “conspiring to intentionally inflict emotional distress and conspiring to intentionally interfere with the property rights, due process rights, and civil rights of the plaintiff.”
I. Just. Love. America.
Let me gather myself after the jump.
You know what, screw it. Make a free speech martyr of Officer Barrett. Give him a freaking medal. Erect a statue to him on Boston Common so parents can take their kids to see it and say “you know son, that’s the police officer who once called a black man a banana eating jungle monkey, and it was his right to do so!” Canonize the guy. One more racist jackass living in Boston is not going to unduly shift the balance of racial tolerance up there.
But don’t tell me he has a winning legal argument. Hate speech, particularly by state actors, is not always protected. And even if you argue that the speech wasn’t that offensive (even though it was) or wasn’t that hateful (whatever) you still have to agree that the officer showed extremely poor judgment by emailing the newspaper his thoughts about a case that was outside his jurisdiction. Police officers have been fired for less.
Officer Barrett will probably end up being a hero to a lot of people in this country and it’s not like he’s looking at jail time for his rhetoric.
But he’s going to lose his badge, and (most importantly) he’s going to lose his sidearm. And black people across the country will be handing him bananas like Denzel did to one of the racist coaches in Remember the Titans.
The courts aren’t going to bail him out of that reality.
Suspended Boston police officer Barrett sues commissioner, mayor [Boston Globe]