Should Skip Gates Sue?

While there appears to be a peaceful, beer-filled resolution to the debate that erupted when a Cambridge police officer arrested Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates at his home, The New York Times' resident ethicist, Randy Cohen, writes that Gates shouldn't be calling a truce just yet. “Gates should enjoy a cool one and then file suit,” he wrote. “We Americans are often mocked for being overly litigious, but we are not nearly litigious enough. In the right circumstances, filing suit can be a way to pursue social justice, and that makes it thoroughly ethical.” On The other hand, Cohen writes that not suing is perfectly understandable—seeking legal action is “above and beyond the call of duty.” But going to court could be a giant step forward in race relations, Cohen argues. “Gates should sue. Social change proceeds through the combination of many forces—legislation, litigation and public discourse among them. For Gates to contribute to this effort would be laudable.”