I barely remember Boston Police Officer Justin Barrett’s e-mail.
There were so many of them – hundreds, after I wrote a column last week calling the Cambridge police dunderheaded for arresting Henry Louis Gates Jr. They came mostly from people who disagreed – strongly – with me.
Many of them were civil and well-argued. Many were passionate and heartfelt.
But then there were the other e-mails – the ones calling me a moron and an idiot and all kinds of other names. They accused me of playing the race card even as they insulted African-Americans.
There were scores of them. They proved that, regardless of who is to blame in the Gates affair, there is still plenty of ugliness in the world, some of it baldly racist.
I try to read and respond to every e-mail I get. The reasoned ones often help me see points of view I may not have fully considered. Some of the thoughtful e-mails about Gates, along with developments in the story that came after my column appeared, made me wish I’d cut Sergeant James Crowley more slack.
But when somebody begins with insults, racial epithets, or both, I hit the delete button.
This happens so often I barely register it any more.
This is the beauty of the Internet, of course, allowing all manner of anonymous haters to parachute right onto your desktop whether you like it or not. And to post their comments online, hoping people will see them before they get reported and removed.
So while the beginning of Barrett’s e-mail is familiar to me, the rest of it I never saw. Like so many of these kinds of e-mails, it was an anonymous rant. I can’t recall the exact part that made me hit delete.
It could have been where he says suspects don’t have any rights. I might have gotten as far as that first reference comparing Gates to a “banana-eating jungle monkey.”
I didn’t make it to the part where he calls me a fool and an infidel (he correctly pegged me as Catholic). And I certainly didn’t make it to the bit where he invites me to serve him hot Panamanian coffee and a warm cruller on a Sunday morning.
I wish I had gotten that far. That would have given me a good laugh.
Metro columnist Yvonne Abraham can be reached at Abraham@globe.com
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