The Coffee, Tea, or Should We Feel Your Pregnant Wife article is currently the hottest item in the blogging world. I first saw it yesterday, linked to from the Interesting People mailing list, and I’ve since seen plenty of links to it elsewhere. Is this story true and accurately reported? I have no idea. Obviously it’s one person’s first hand account of something that happened to them, so it’s going to be told from their point of view, which is fine. The point is that, having flown over the past year, I find the story completely plausible. What I find most interesting about this story is not that it outrages people, but that it surprises them.

Most (white) Americans really don’t have much interaction with the police, unless they get in a car accident, or get pulled over for a traffic violation. It therefore comes as quite a shock that the police are known for lying to protect each other, exaggerating about the misbehavior of people accused of misconduct, and generally acting as though everyone they deal with is a criminal. Something tells me that if you printed out this story and gave it to a bunch of black people to read, they’d hardly be surprised at all. So when I read all of the commentary offering this tale as proof of America’s sudden and rapid decline, I have to laugh. I’m not saying that all policemen are bad, or even that most of them are. What I am saying is that the nature of the job and the people they have to deal with on a day to day basis tends to encourage behavior that most freedom-loving people would define as repugnant, and tends to produce abuses exactly like the ones described in the article. If the events in this story had taken place at a police station in some inner city after a routine traffic stop and bogus car search, chances are nobody would have even noticed or cared.

(I’m going to be flying out for Christmas. I’ll be sure to post here if my civil rights are violated in any way.)