Daniele Watts, Race Baiting, and Crying Wolf

Race baiting is ubiquitous in our day. It seems like everything is about race. Even when it isn’t. So the recent story about Django Unchained actress Daniele Watts just seemed like par for the course.

She says she was kissing her husband in public—relatively harmless, I would say—but police were called, she says, because she is black and he is white. The police assumed she was a prostitute and apparently forced her into handcuffs after humiliating her publicly.

That sounds horrible! Those racist LAPD officers need to be strung up naked by their ankles and lashed forty times, right? They need to know what it feels like to be slaves in a world ruled by the evil white man. Oh, wait. That’s not exactly what happened?

No. Apparently the police officers had the good sense to record the encounter. And some pictures have been released. And let’s just say that Watts may have exaggerated the officers’ wrong-doing and downplayed her own indecency. A lot. She was apparently straddling her boyfriend topless (not exactly “kissing,” per se), and when police showed up about a “public indecency incident,” she refused to give her identity and even left while officers were attempting to detain her.

In other words, she actually was being indecent. And then she was being belligerent. This case, as with so many other cases of race baiting, had nothing really to do with race until Ms. Watts took it there.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There probably are many cases where police officers act in a racist way. But this isn’t one of them. And every time one of these race baiting stories is proven to be crying wolf, it damages the entire race baiting narrative. Which is why some civil rights groups are calling on Watts to apologize to the LAPD. And this is also a case where video/audio surveillance of police has proven itself useful, not just to protect the public from police indiscretion and bullying, but also to protect the police from false accusations. Yet another reason police should be in full support of being recorded in the performance of their duties. “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide, right?”