April 27, 2006

Cynthia McKinney Tussle: Fix the Checkpoint, Don’t Prosecute

Posted by Eric Jaffa
Wednesday April 05th 2006, 6:39 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, Media Watch

Summary: Bad checkpoint procedures cause accidents. The solution to the Cynthia McKinney situation is to fix the Capitol building checkpoint. Not to blame the cop, and not to blame McKinney.

Liberals are divided over Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia) and her run-in with a Capital Police officer (here and here.)

This is my understanding of what happened based on conflicting reports:

McKinney walked through a checkpoint for members of Congress without wearing the pin which is supposed to tell the cops that she’s allowed to walk right through as a member of Congress. A police officer asked her to stop a few times, and she didn’t, and he grabbed her arm. Then she poked him with her cellphone.

A grand jury is now considering whether to indict her.

I don’t consider the cop at fault. And I don’t consider McKinney at fault.

I consider the checkpoint procedures to be at fault.

They should install a locked turnstile just for members of Congress, and the cops should make people flash ID to be buzzed though. Then incidents like this won’t happen.

It’s a lousy system to say a cop is supposed to be able to tell if someone in motion is wearing the pin, and if not then chase that someone.

Gathering a grand jury to try to indict McKinney is ridiculous. Prosecutors need to be selective. Authorities should only seek to prosecute someone when it may benefit society.

People have an instinctive reaction to being grabbed to shove back. That won’t change whether she’s prosecuted or not. Indicting McKinney won’t benefit society.

If a Republican Congresswoman ever pokes a cop with her cellphone and doesn’t injure him, I won’t advocate for her to be prosecuted, either. Being a good prosecutor means showing discretion.

« Free Speech »

There is a free speech angle to this issue. At the 2004 Republican National Convention, a young man held up a protest sign. He was grabbed by cops, and charged with assault based on the fact that his elbow moved in the direction of one of the cops as he was being grabbed.

When people are prosecuted for instinctive reactions, it’s a blow to freedom of speech and freedom in general.

I’m not saying that the Cynthia McKinney tussle is directly a free speech issue. I’m saying that they way we treat people who are grabbed by cops and shove back in some way can be a free speech issue, because protesters are among people who are grabbed by cops.

Someone deciding whether to attend a protest ideally wouldn’t have to worry that if a cop grabs him or her at the protest, then he or she may be prosecuted for assault based on the tussle that causes.

« Checkpoints in Iraq »

There is also a problem with checkpoints in Iraq, though that is much more serious. The US military usually waves at a car to try to signal for it to stop, instead of installing a stop sign.

When drivers don’t understand the waving and keep driving, US soldiers shoot the drivers.

12 Comments so far

Cynthia McKinney IS at fault on this matter. It would have only taken two seconds out of her life to say “I’m sorry, I’m Congresswoman McKinney from Georgia.” Instead she throws a fit, claims to be the “victim” for her own mistake, and launches a self-righteous, self-serving, egotistical crusade about a ficitious “lack of facial recognition” and accuses the cop of racism and “inappropriate touching” when all he is really guilty of is doing his job!

Cynthia McKinney is an embarassment to Georgia. She has been an embarssment to Georiga for years. That’s why her own constituents kicked her out in 2002, and the only reason why she was allowed to bully her way back into office is because the woman who replaced her made the foolish mistake of running for the Senate in 2004.

And yes, there shouldn’t need to be a grand jury or an arrest warant against her, but her needless abuse of power and her self-serving need for ego-gratification is forcing this matter. All she needed to do is appologize for her own mistake, but she can’t get beyond her own overinflated ego to do that. Her actions are threatening the reputation and career of a hard-working taxpayer who was only doing his job, and for that she needs to be held accountable.

Comment by David 2 04.06.06 @ 6:29 am

David 2 -

I’m skeptical that Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s “actions are threatening the reputation and career” of the cop.

I’ve seen zero posts calling the cop a racist in the many posts I’ve seen on this topic. Nor have I seen his name yet.

If he believes he’s been slandered, he’s welcome to file a civil suit.

It’s part of the job of a cop to grab people and sometimes they instinctively shove back. He didn’t need to file a criminal complaint. There shouldn’t be a grand jury meeting over this.

Comment by Eric Jaffa 04.06.06 @ 7:27 am


The 51-year-old McKinney scuffled with a police officer on March 29 when she entered a House office building without her identifying lapel pin and did not stop when asked. Several police sources said the officer, who was not identified, asked her three times to stop. When she kept going, he placed a hand somewhere on her and she hit him, according to the officials.

McKinney refused to comment today about her confrontation with the police officer.

Instead her supporters used a news conference this morning at the Community Church of Christ on Cascade Road to attack security procedures at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

They blamed the incident between McKinney and an unidentified police officer on racism. Speakers said the officer failed to recognize McKinney as a member of congress and grabbed her because she is black.

This is the link to Rep McKinney’s official unedited statement:

Comment by David 2 04.06.06 @ 7:49 am

Just for the record, yes, the checkpoint needs to be fixed, and, yes, EVERYONE should have to go through it, no matter who they are.

Comment by David 2 04.06.06 @ 7:53 am

David 2 -

Cynthia McKinney and the people who join her at press confereneces may be implying that the unnamed cop is a racist.

However, on liberal blogs etc., I haven’t seen ordinary people write that the cop is a racist.

Therefore, I’m skeptical that the cop’s reputation has been damaged. Her implication that he’s racist isn’t catching on.

Comment by Eric Jaffa 04.06.06 @ 8:12 am

Just as an update: McKinney has just issued an appology on the floor of the House.


Comment by David 2 04.06.06 @ 8:23 am

McKinney ‘apologized’ today. But exactly who did she apologize to?

A true and wise leader, when asked by an officer to stop, would turn around, comply with instruction, properly introduce themselves and THANK the officer for doing his job.

Better to make a friend, than an issue.

Comment by Sickofspin 04.06.06 @ 3:01 pm

Sickofspin -

If she heard the cop, she should definitely had acted as you described.

If she didn’t hear him, because she was talking on her cellphone, for example, then the incident could just be a mixup.

Comment by Eric Jaffa 04.06.06 @ 3:35 pm

Tom DeLay had it right.
Cynthia McKinney is a racist. Her entire career and been built on black vs. white issues. She’s incapable of seeing anything in any other light. Her reaction to the officer, subsequent defense of her actions and ensueing appology all show her lack of reason and inability to be at all objective or responsive when dealing with anyone who is not of color. Her “appology” included that word but was prefaced with a statement that said no touching should have taken place (sounds like a justification or excuse to me) not an appology.

Comment by Bill H 04.07.06 @ 1:58 pm

Bill H -

A person can apologize who considers herself partially at fault, even if she thinks that others were also at fault.

Comment by Eric Jaffa 04.07.06 @ 2:43 pm

Eric, you might have a point if she had acknowledged her responsibility. If you review the content of her previous statement: “innappropriate touching of me, a female black congresswoman” and the content of her “appology” today :”there should not have been any touching” there is no acknowledgement of her responsiblity in either statement. She’s clearly appologizing for the resulting bad press, she’s clearly appologizing for getting herself and the CBC (congressional black caucus) in hot water, but she is not clearly appologizing for her actions. Please note, she appologized to Congress, not the Police officer and not the american people who deserve better of their public servants. She,I’m sure,would be offended by the word servant being applied to her….probably would even call it racist…see first comments posted.

Comment by Bill H 04.07.06 @ 4:00 pm

editing note, I just read a transcript. My quote of her appology is a little off. She used the phrase physical contact rather than the word touching.

Comment by Bill H 04.07.06 @ 4:08 pm

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Your e-mail address is never displayed. Basic HTML is allowed. Including more than one link makes you look like a spammer and will cause your comment to be held in moderation.