Alec Baldwin: regular asshole, or racist asshole? This is the question raised this morning by the New York Post, and a photographer in its employ who claims that Baldwin called him a "coon," a "crackhead," a "drug dealer" and "Ralston":

Actor Alec Baldwin allegedly called a black Post photographer a racial epithet, a "crackhead'' and a "drug dealer'' during a confrontation on an East Village street yesterday morning, prompting police to intervene.

He then called G.N. Miller—a decorated retired detective with the NYPD's Organized Crime Control Bureau and a staff photographer for The Post—a "coon, a drug dealer,'' Miller's police statement said.

In a now-deleted tweet, Baldwin called Miller "Ralston, the ex-crackhead 'photographer'" (last year, Baldwin called a black photographer "Rodney," for reasons unclear) and Tara Palmeri, the reporter accompanying Miller, "one of Murdoch's nieces." According to Palmeri, Baldwin also told her "I want you to choke to death."

Everyone agrees that Alec Baldwin is an asshole. A talented asshole, sure: but an asshole. But is he a racist asshole? Baldwin—surprise!—denies that he used the racial epithet, accusing the Post of "magical thinking" and telling Gothamist that Miller started the confrontation:

Baldwin said he was returning home from the gym when the altercation took place. "This guy was right up in my face as I crossed University Place," he told us, saying the photographer-who may have been following him due to the recent lawsuit against his wife-was acting aggressively. "I get to the other side of the street, and he bumped into me." He believes it was a very deliberate provocation: "He banged into me with his shoulder, because he was right on top of me with the camera," he added. "In my mind, it was deliberate. I've had that happen before. It happens sometimes, because they want to bait you, they want you to do something."

No charges will be filed, in either direction, and the question of the exact flavor of Baldwin's abusive assholishness may never be conclusively resolved.

[NYP, Gothamist, image via AP]