Profiling...

Anyone been watching the news lately and seen the hot topic of Racial Profiling circulating through the news talk shows? This hypersensitivity of profiling only when race or ethnicity is used as one of the factors is ludicrous. Profiling, stereo-typing, pigeon-holing, categorizing or whatever people want to call it is not prejudice, it is human nature. There is nothing wrong with it. It is the primary tool we human beings use to identify, recognize, categorize and organize.

What about the profiling of serial murders? What about a male perp wearing a stolen testosterone t-shirt who just knocked off a convenient store and the innocent t-men apprehended by police because they too were wearing a testosterone t-shirt and just happened to be in the vicinity? Do you think the authorities had their eyes open for white, militant, anti-social, anti-government, skin head types post Oklahoma City? Of course they did. Are any of these forms of profiling being denounced? No. Because they are effective.

And because they’re not racial and there is little political ground or power to be gained by attacking them.

Should we shake up the grocery stores of America so the canned goods don’t get singled out any more? What about the profiling of rice, oatmeal and dairy products? What a joke. Choosing to ignore obvious factors such as race or ethnicity because they are too politically charged is just plain stupid. I guess I should start keeping my silverware in my sock drawer so I too can be politically correct.

Profiling is completely logical. It’s only when true bigots use it as a tool of hatred for the hurting of others that it becomes a problem. What are your thoughts? Kevo

About the only thing Jesse Jackson ever said that made sense to me (or stirred a smidgeon of respect) was when he admitted with sadness that when walking down the street he felt less at ease if the three young males behind him turned out to be African-American and that he’d cross to the other side–something to that effect. Yes, we ALL profile. (Be honest, you assume things about people depending on whether they are fat or not, don’t you?)

I think profiling demands that you trust the person doing it. In the hands of a person of integrity and sound judgment, profiling can be a great tool. As a cover for a hate-filled bigot, its a horror. Like wiretapping and other tools, the problem is not so much the tool as the context and the motives of the one using it. Given this nation's history of race, however, we are less inclined to give the benefit of doubt to those who practice profiling based on race--and that disinclination is as much the product of human nature as profiling. Of course we scrutinize profiling blacks more closesly than we do the profiling of whites; whites haven't often been abused by the police merely for being white, have they?

I think profiling on racial grounds can be a good, effective tool in law enforcement, but there is so much potential for abuse, bad faith and misinterpretation that it probably is best not to use race as a criterion. In a society without our racial history, it could be a different matter, but then, a society with racial harmony would eventual intermarry and there would cease to be races. (Just remember that when someone talks about “black pride” as compatible with racial harmony; the ultimate in racial harmony would obliterate race. But then, what we call race is often more about culture than skin color, but that’s another thread.)

excellent points newbie! i couldn’t agree more. kevo