I find it unbelievable that there is even a debate surrounding whether Boston Police Officer Justin Barrett should be fired after his racist email calling Henry Louis Gates, Jr. a jungle monkey. Some people have come out to say that it's a free speech issue and that Barrett should not be fired. Others, including Boston Mayor Menino, want Barrett off the force immediately.
Here's what a lot of people do not understand about freedom of speech: its principles allow you to say whatever you want in this great country, but what it does not do is give you immunity from punishment. Under the guise of free speech, I can walk up to my boss and call him a grade A asshole. Should I not be fired for that because I was practicing my right to free speech, or does the fact that I have shown my inability to remain professional trump that (in the public or private sector)? Take a guess which route my boss would take (and he would be justified).
The fact of the matter is that certain people cannot do certain jobs. It is never justified for a racist to be a police officer (and sending an email in which you call a black person a jungle monkey to a newspaper earns you a racist label). This country's criminal justice system is based on the equality of the law (at least since 1868). It also is based on the rights of the accused. To have a police officer who clearly thinks less of one group of people because of their race and who thinks that suspects have no rights makes no sense; he would not be able to properly do his job. When you cannot properly do your job you do not deserve that job.
Barrett should be fired and have to pay the taxpayers back for his suspension. There is no room for him in any police department or any job that involves him dealing with a diverse clientele. Imagine him back on his beat and having to deal with anyone; Barrett would garner no respect because of his actions. He also has probably lost the respect of his colleagues, who turned him in. Not only was his email racist, it was an extremely stupid thing to do and if it is any indication of his judgment, he does not belong on our streets with a gun, never mind with any authority. Peace.
Photo - Boston Police Officer Justin Barrett (NY Daily News)