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The cop who yelled the racist stuff at Carl Crawford is probably gonna get fired

Jul 25, 2012, 4:02 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox Photo Day Getty Images

But not just because he yelled racist stuff at Carl Crawford. Rather, because — in addition to the Crawford thing — he allegedly exhibited a pattern of racist baloney:

A five-page handwritten statement from a patron at Classics Pub on Route 12, submitted as evidence, said Officer Perrault repeatedly used the “n word” to describe African-Americans while watching a televised NBA game.

Also, Chief Healey said his officers told him of an incident on St. Patrick’s Day at a bar in Faneuil Hall in Boston. Officer Perrault, after seeing a black man wearing a Guinness beer T-shirt, allegedly said to the man “I didn’t know they served Guinness in Africa.” The chief said the remark provoked a scuffle with the man, which was broken up by fellow Leominster officers, including Officer Perrault’s superiors, who were with him.

The Chief of Police wants him fired. The Mayor is going to decide it later this week.  And none of this ever would have come to light, I reckon, if this dude hadn’t decided to yell garbage at a ballplayer who doesn’t care a lick about him or what he thinks.

Still, there is a lot of nonsense afoot here from the folks looking to oust the police officer. If you’ll recall, there was a lot of argument in this case about the term “Monday” — the slur the officer used — and its definition, which the Chief took from the Urban Dictionary.  I have little doubt that this cop was actually hurling a slur at Crawford, but I’d like to think our civil servants aren’t making hiring and firing determinations based on what appears to be way too great a reliance on one of the biggest disaster area websites on the Internet.

This is somewhat more concerning: After the officer’s lawyer argued about the potential uncertainty regarding whether the word in question was a slur …

Chief Healey said what matters is that Mr. Crawford took it as a racial slur.

Sorry, that can’t be the standard. We can infer intent by the speaker from a number of sources — as the hearing here seems to have done — but we can’t rely solely on how the target of an alleged slur took it.  Remember the fun little debate about “niggardly?” Boy, that was an exercise in stupidity. Again, I don’t think it’s the case here, but if we’re going with what the target assumed, we’re going to run into situations in which someone’s ignorance determines whether someone else loses their job or gets kicked out of school or something.

Oh well. Enough of that today.

(thanks to Big Leagues, who is helping us see this story through to the end)

  1. seeinred87 - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Words hurt.

    /sarcasm

    That doesn’t mean I think what the cop did was OK. But seriously, getting upset by the noises that people make (especially when they intend for those noises to rile you up) is a ridiculous concept to me.

    • sictransitchris - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:22 PM

      Normally I would agree with you but we absolutely can’t have biased police officers.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:37 PM

        We all have biases of one sort or another, which we should all admit to. One of my strongest biases is against a blatant racist with a badge and gun.

    • yahmule - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:27 PM

      People are getting upset because our thoughts inform our actions. This officer’s thoughts (and words) indicate someone who lacks the common sense and impulse control expected from an authority figure entrusted to serve and protect the public.

    • El Bravo - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      Well then, this should be painless for you: you’re a complete idiot.

    • cur68 - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      I’ve made this point before, but this time, I get to reply to it right at the top of the comments page instead of the bottom, so pardon the repetition:

      Know what I never hear? An obviously ethnic person making the comment “its just a word”. Know why? Because to us, it isn’t. It sets the tone for how that person and those around him will treat us.

      I’m going to ease out on a limb here and assume that anyone making that statement is a nice Caucasian person. Know why? ‘Cause Homey Don’t Play That.

      • El Bravo - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:09 PM

        Cur, I wish I could buy you a drink for this one. Please, buy one of your faves and pretend El Bravo picked up the tab.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:43 PM

        I’m about to smoke a doobie for both of you right now.

      • pisano - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:39 PM

        cur68…. on a more sobering thought, can you imagine what our resident genius gotampabay52’s response to this thread would be? I don’t know what made me think of him, but I have a feeling his response would be priceless.

      • cur68 - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:25 AM

        pisan: I used them big words. I doubt he could read it.

      • seeinred87 - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:37 AM

        @cur

        I am, in fact, Caucasian. And the “you’re white, you just don’t get it” argument is bullshit.

        I do agree though about it setting the tone. I’ve been on the receiving end of a racially motivated assault. When they started hurling the “epithets” at me, I didn’t get offended. I didn’t get angry.

        It definitely did set the atmosphere for what was about to happen though. It made me uneasy and defensive. But it wasn’t the words themselves that did it, there was more going on obviously.

        The point is, the words ARE just words. Words alone, especially in one incident, shouldn’t get you fired. But since this cop has shown a pattern of racist ideation, I totally get why he should be fired.

      • cur68 - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:56 PM

        That “target of a racially motivated attack” happen often? Do you stand a chance of that happening on a daily basis? Is it cop doing it? In fact, reading what you wrote, I dare say your argument is self defeating. Those words did EXACTLY what I said they’d do. So its not bullshit, as much as you might want it to be. You’re white and you just don’t get it.

    • hammyofdoom - Jul 25, 2012 at 6:40 PM

      When your line of work is one where you not only have to deal with people on a daily basis but you are also supposed to protect them with as little bias as possible what you say DOES matter. As if police dont have a bad enough reputation as is when it comes to racism, but with something as public as this something has to happen. Sure, a cop making harmless jokes/comments about homosexuals or ethnic groups other than his or hers may be harmless in their head, but it promotes negative ideas about police officers and there is the chance that it may not BE harmless and that they can go out there and mistreat those that he hates. Something like this cant be seen as harmless.

  2. frenchysplatediscipline - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    “And none of this ever would have come to light, I reckon, if this dude hadn’t decided to yell garbage at a ballplayer who doesn’t care a lick about him or what he thinks.”

    My guess is it would have come to light soon enough. It’s 2012 – openly racist cops are not going to stay openly racist for long – or they are not going to stay cops for long.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:07 PM

      I, for one, am shocked that a guy who would yell something racist once would have a pattern of saying other racist things.

    • jjschiller - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:59 PM

      I completely disagree. Racist cops don’t get fired until it’s an famous/power/important person that they mistreat.

      I knew a few. Past tense, as in, I choose not to know those people anymore. They’re still cops though. And I personally know for a fact that the way they carry out their business is completely in line with their personal feelings and opinions on the subject.

  3. deathmonkey41 - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    “if this dude hadn’t decided to yell garbage at a ballplayer who doesn’t care a lick about him or what he thinks.”

    I disagree- if he didn’t care, he wouldn’t have mentioned it to the media. Maybe he was still upset that Tito didn’t have his back.

  4. patsandsox - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    The Police officer in question sounds like a real piece of work. I cant believe he picks fights in bars with racist comments like that. He is a fool.

    • kkolchak - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:37 PM

      The fact that they are so hot to trot to fire him tells me that he’s probably a jerk around his colleagues as well. Some people are more trouble than they are worth even if they are good at their jobs.

  5. jdub01984 - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    Not that I condone this guys actions at all. But what happened to your first amendment rights. Throw out my argument if he did any of these things while in uniform and on duty. This country is so PC its running itself into the ground.

    • bklynbaseball - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      “Freedom of speech” does NOT equal freedom from consequences. You certainly have the right to say whatever you wish, but you must also accept the possible consequences that arise from what you say.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:34 PM

        I wish that were true- then that cow Rosie O’Donnell would have to own up.

      • kkolchak - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:42 PM

        See what you did there? I think Rosie O’Donnell is a terrible, unfunny comedian with an obnoxious public persona, but by calling her a stupid name you momentarily made me have sympathy for her.

        Likewise, I think Carl Crawford is an overpaid loser of a ballplayer, but by calling him a racist slur rather than just saying he sucks this stupid cop made me feel sympathy for him.

    • yahmule - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      You might want to spend a few minutes perusing this document.

      http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/95-815.pdf

      Most notably, this passage, “similarly, the government may proscribe ‘fighting’ words — those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

    • bsbiz - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:49 PM

      Good Deity (or deities) above (or below)…

      The First Amendment protects you from prosecution by a governmental authority.

      The First Amendment does not apply to terms of employment, whether they be by a public or private institution.

      On duty or off, the First Amendment does not apply here.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:08 PM

        Yes, but jdub01984 likes to say things that he wishes were true!

    • koufaxmitzvah - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:46 PM

      The last thing I want is an officer on the force who gets plastered at the local watering hole and starts making fun of Black people because, you know, their skin is darker than his.

    • hammyofdoom - Jul 25, 2012 at 7:05 PM

      If you think political correctness covers people being upset at obvious racist comments to provoke an incident, than I really cant help you.

  6. pellypell - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    When other officers cross the so-called “blue wall of silence” to let people know what a douche bag you are, well then…you’re a douche bag.

  7. randygnyc - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    I am a strong believer in the right of people to have strong racist beliefs, if that’s how they feel (I don’t, btw). There are people out there who would love nothing more than to legislate all of your thoughts and speech.

    With that in mind, officers of the law can’t hold these beliefs and remain unbiased. Clearly it’s an impediment to the obligations of the job.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:12 PM

      I assume Randy’s talking about liberals like me when he says “There are people out there who would love nothing more than to legislate all of your thoughts and speech.”

      Speaking for the National Association of People Like Me, we don’t want to do that, so I wonder who Randy is talking about.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:47 PM

        NAPaLM?

  8. soxfan1966 - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    I would think that there is an expectation that anyone in a public position such as this (i.e. an elected official, a teacher, a firefighter, police officer, etc.) will treat all people fairly and with respect, and that they possess the maturity, the personal integrity, and the plain common sense to know that their personal behavior sets an example for others around them.

    Yes, there is a First Amendment. However, most of the professions I mentioned also have a code of conduct that describes the expectations and outlines the ethical breaches for which they can lose their professional credentials.

    Personally, I would feel very uncomfortable knowing that a police officer in my town would behave like this in public or would seemingly go so far out of his way to be offensive. I would expect that this person’s employment as a law enforcement officer be terminated and that they are disqualified from holding such a position ever again.

  9. xcheman - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    It is racist cops like this small-minded loser that give police officers a bad reputation, particularly in African-American communities. That loose cannon has shown he does not deserve to wield any authority since he cannot even control himself.

    • hammyofdoom - Jul 25, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      Its awful, I live in a small town in Maine and I know plenty of cops from the surrounding towns and while some of them can be a-holes, I have not heard one racist peep from any of them. If anything they do things and mock old people that call and are worried about “the black people” moving into their neighborhood. But you get instances of one offficer or one group of officers that do something stupid and it paints a bad picture of all cops

  10. jjschiller - Jul 25, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    Craig,

    Specifically to your point about “that can’t be the standard,” while it is a thin line, there’s a line. Sure, citing Urban-Dictionary is pretty poor form. And “What matters is that he took it as a racist slur,” is pretty poorly stated. But if the police chief said “I know what he said, and I know what he meant. What we’re talking about is dog-whistling. And it will not be permitted,” what would your stance be? Because that’s pretty clearly what he meant.

  11. genericcommenter - Jul 25, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Cops who murder people don’t get fired. They usually get medals, and the support of their chief. Considering how difficult it is to fire a bad cop ( even though they ALWAYS have a very EASY time being rehired somewhere else unless they “snitched” against another cop), I would say the fact that the Chief wants him gone is probably good enough. I guess the Chief could have a personal agenda, but the Chief will usually always side with his officers no matter how awful. I’m not saying I support “political correctness” run amok- to the degree that almost any words could be twisted and civil servants could be fired for unoffensive things that are twisted for an agenda, BUT the fact that police usually benefit from an incredible double-standard and their contact is held to such a low level of scrutiny in general, I’m not going to lose any sleep over this guy being fired. It’s pretty messed up that the people in society we entrust with the most power are also those held to the lowest standards.

  12. eshine76 - Jul 25, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Craig, while I agree with your argument that the Chief needs more of a burden of proof other than the way Crawford took the insult, he was likely responding emotionally to the idiotic argument of the officer’s lawyer. This guy brought shame to the town and department and the Chief is pissed. I’m guessing this guy’s reputation within the department was not great and may have been disciplined in the past. He’ll have a better argument in court.

  13. vallewho - Jul 25, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    It seems like police officers kill someone every week based on what they “perceive” as a threat. So at least the Chief is consistent here. I don’t agree with that thinking, but consistent.

  14. flyingvien - Jul 25, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    Wow, well said, Craig.

  15. pisano - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    This thing with the cop must have really disrupted Carl, because I looked at the box of their game tonight with Texas and his BA is .219, as the saying goes, ” he has nowhere to go but up “

  16. skinsfanwill - Jul 26, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    The fact that he felt comfortable enough to make racists comments and pick a fight in a bar with his superior officers right there lets me know that it is a departmental thing. They probably locked the guy up that he had a fight with in the bar too. That guy could have lost his job from that situation that was senseless. Nobody cares about that guy and his job. If you are a bad cop, get a new job. He deserves to be fired.

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