Sympathy for Whalen

Earlier today, I argued that the big Gatesgate development of the day--i.e., Lucia Whalen's (ambiguously reported) assertion about not discussing race with the police--didn't necessarily make Whalen's mindset clear. Specifically, I argued that even if Whalen didn't identify the suspects' race in her call to police, it still could have been on her mind.

Since then, of course, there's been another big Gatesgate development. We can now hear audio of Whalen's call, and radio communications from the police response. 

And I gotta say: while I think my point about what Whalen's words do/don't say about her mindset was correct in the abstract, I feel pretty shitty having made it. Because after listening to Whalen's call to police, I'm pretty sure she happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and has gotten a raw deal from the press--myself included--as a result.

If you haven't already listened, please do. Here's the passage that really gets me (courtesy of the Globe's transcript of the call):

Dispatcher: (inaudible) black or Hispanic? Are they still in the house?

Caller: They’re still in the house I believe, yeah.

Dispatcher: Are they white, black or Hispanic?

Caller: Umm, well there were two larger men, one looked kind of Hispanic, but I’m not really sure. And the other one entered and I didn’t see what he looked like at all. I just saw it from a distance and this older woman was worried, thinking someone’s breaking in someone’s house, they’ve been barging in, and she interrupted me, and that’s when I had noticed. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it at all, to be honest with you. So I was just calling ‘cause she was a concerned neighbor, I guess.

Not only does Whalen not want to talk about race, she's calling on someone else's behalf.

As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

Ms. Whalen, please accept my sincere apology for speculating about your motives before I had sufficient information.

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