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Bob Dylan vs. New Jersey cops
Does Dylan’s detention, for walking around a Long Branch neighborhood, tell us anything broader about U.S. society?

"Oops," said Lauren Viera in the Chicago Tribune. Police in Long Branch, N.J., briefly detained Bob Dylan after rookie cops failed to recognize the music legend, and he didn’t have ID. In fairness to the 22-year-old officer who answered the call about an “eccentric-looking old man” wandering around looking lost, “it was pouring rain," and Dylan did look haggard. But it can’t look good treating Dylan like “a complete unknown.”

News reports are focusing on “the ‘ha ha, they didn’t know it was Dylan!’ aspect” of the incident, said Steven L. Taylor in PoliBlog, but the “real story” is that “a man can’t go for a walk in broad daylight” without ID. Dylan was cooperative and polite, but he wasn’t breaking any law, and this isn’t a police state. As Radley Balko notes in Reason, “I just don’t see the punchline.”

Given that this was settled amicably “exactly one week after the highly publicized arrest” of Henry Louis Gates Jr., said Noel Sheppard in NewsBusters, it’s suspicious that the media “buried” the story until now. I guess if a gracious “white rock legend is detained by police for having the nerve to walk around a minority neighborhood,” that’s not a “teachable moment.”

It's a bit of a stretch to spin this as a "sinister" media conspiracy, said Roy Edroso in The Village Voice. “Maybe we’re thick,” but how does the arrest of a black academic in his own home after he has shown police his ID relate to an ID-less Dylan being “hassled” by cops for “loitering”? This must be what they mean by the August “silly season.”

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