Abraham on Barrett--plus, Barrett's lame defense

In a newly posted item at, Globe columnist and Phoenix alum Yvonne Abraham explains why she quickly deleted the email that got BPD Officer Justin Barrett fired. also quotes from a WCVB interview in which Barrett says his email wasn't really about race:

“I did not mean to offend anyone,’’ he said. “The words were being used to characterize behavior, not describe anyone . . . I didn’t mean it in a racist way. I treat everyone with dignity and respect.’’

Barrett and his lawyer said they will fight the charges. “People are making it about race. It is not about race,’’ Barrett said. Gates was arrested by Cambridge police Sergeant James Crowley on charges of disorderly conduct. [emphasis added]

My question: even if we accept Barrett's suggestion that likening Skip Gates to a "banana-eating jungle monkey" has no racial connotations--and that's a toughie--what should we make of his two uses of "ax" in lieu of "ask" in his now-infamous email? After all, as Barrett proudly noted, he is a former English teacher.

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