The arguments are usually something along the lines of "that guy was an idiot to argue with the cops, he should know better," which is very similar to what many are saying about Gates. He has even been criticized for being a "bad role model," thus putting young black kids at risk if they do the same things.
Now, on a practical, day to day level, it's hard to argue that being argumentative with a cop is a dangerous thing. They have guns. They can arrest you and can cost you your freedom if they want to do it badly enough. They can often get away with doing violence on you and suffer no consequences. You are taking a risk if you provoke someone with that kind of power, no doubt about it.
Indeed, it is very little different than exercising your right of free speech to tell a gang of armed thugs to go fuck themselves. It's legal, but it's not very smart. But that's the problem isn't it? We shouldn't have to make the same calculations about how to behave with police as we would with armed criminals.
It's interesting that the usual advice on how to behave around the police is given in a tone that's not so much pragmatic as moralizing-- you're a fool if you don't accept that the person with the least actual power is responsible for how a situation turns out. And I'm going to indulge in a little mind-reading here-- I keep getting the impression of "I'm a tough person who understands how the world is, and anyone who thinks the police shouldn't have arbitrary power is a just naive".
Link thanks to womzilla.
Let's give Crowley the benefit of the doubt about part of this, just once, as a thought exercise. Let's suppose, even though he clearly isn't telling the truth about the disorderly conduct charge, and even though nobody has ever heard Dr. Gates say "your momma" in anger to anyone, let's imagine that he might have been telling the truth when he alleges that Gates, at least at first, only handed him his Harvard ID and asked, "Do you know who I am?" This is not a stupid question from a prima donna, this is an entirely legitimate question, because Henry Louis Gates isn't just any random black homeowner. He's a black homeowner who has lived in the neighborhood that Sgt. Crowley patrols for 18 years. But he isn't just any 18-year homeowner, he's an 18-year homeowner who has been a department chief at Cambridge's single most important employer for that whole 18 years.
This is the first mention I've seen that Crowley patrolled that neighborhood and should have known who lived there, which I think of as a much stronger claim than that everyone ought to follow the visual news actively enough to know what Gates looks like.
Nitpick: the woman who phoned the police wasn't Gates' neighbor. She just happened to be in the area.
General point: It's plausible to think that racism was involved, but not necessary. White people are at risk from the police, too, and it's getting worse.