Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Racial Profiling

Stop the insanity

By Mark Connolly
Editor, Dallas Bureau

We caught up with Racial Profiling in a dark alleyway, where he was hiding. RP as he is known, was reluctant to talk, but once apprised of the credentials of The Global Exclaimer, agreed to this exclusive interview.

The Glob: How did this happen? You hiding in an alley, living off scraps, reviled by all?

RP: Pull up a crate, this is going to take awhile. (Pauses while I find a reasonably sturdy crate…) Ok. As you probably know, I was once a valued resource, a time tested tool, if you will, of various law enforcement agencies. Cool under pressure, efficient, sometimes downright indispensable in tight situations. But, a tool is only as good as the person using it.

The Glob: What do you mean?

RP: You’ve heard the phrase “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”?

The Glob: Yeah, but…

RP: I know, guns do kill people, and sometimes people that kill people wouldn’t succeed if they had to use their bare hands. But, the idea, that a tool can be misused, that’s what I’m getting at.

The Glob: I’ll give you that. But, misused? Come on. What is a legitimate use for you, RP?

RP: It’s like when you need to screw in a screw. There are screw drivers and drills and hammers…

The Glob: Hammers!?

RP: Yeah, hammers. Think about it, if you had to, you could probably connect two pieces of wood together with a screw and a hammer. Granted, it’s not the best or right way, but regardless, in a pinch it would work. You could, if you had to, use a drill to pound nails, right? Basically, where there’s a will, there’s a… What’s that?? (Siren in the background… RP looking all about, a hunted and haunted look in his eye…) Jeez. I can’t used to that. Where was I? Oh, where there’s a will there’s a way.

Ideally, you use the right tool for the right job. But, some people will get lazy, and become reliant on a specific tool. And use it for everything, beyond its intended purpose. Or even just because they can, or due to some kind of character flaw. Musashi warned against this. He said you should have no preferred weapon, as even a high level of proficiency can become a dependence.

The Glob: Who? Wasn’t he some kinda samurai or something?

RP: (Looking very disgusted) He’s MUSASHI, the Japanese Sword Saint Jeez. Do they teach nothing in school? Never mind. (Takes deep breath)

OK, anyway, let’s say there is a robbery of a local convenience store, and someone is shot and killed and some are wounded. The survivors say “It was a tall Swarthy Male, with some sort of scarring on his forehead.” What do the police do? They put out an APB for a tall swarthy male with scarring on his head, and put me on the job looking for anyone fitting the description. So, in the resulting sweep, some recently arrived Ethiopian tribesman two streets over gets arrested, along with a couple of other likely folks. He’s innocent, and can prove it, and is released several hours later. Is he a victim of me? I suppose. But, the police have to do something, right? And if the culprits are caught, then I, Racial Profiling did my job. The temporary inconvenience to a few vs the safety of many is considered to be a valid trade off. By the way, that also works as, "It was a tall blonde with fake breasts." I would go looking for her, and the Ethiopian tribesman is not picked up in the sweep.

The Glob: Well that seems to make sense. So, what happened?

RP: Simple. Some people got lazy and misused me. For example, let’s say that there seems to be a disproportionate number of one particular ethnic group involved in burglary of a habitat. Someone lazy, and or wanting to make a name for himself figures out that if he just pulls over every one in that ethnic group, he will accidentally find someone doing something they are not supposed to do. So, he’s not trying to solve a particular current crime, and he’s not bothering to narrow the focus by asking any questions. He just puts me on the job with the slimmest of criteria. “Hey RP, find me some Mexicans.” So, I do. I’m a tool remember. From there, it is a slippery slope. And people are being stopped for absolutely no reason aside from they fit what I am looking for.

The Glob: Wow. So then what happened then?

RP: Well several things happened along the way, and I became associated with prejudice. And God knows, you can’t be prejudiced, at least not in public. I became almost a cuss word. All anyone has to do is mention my name, and whoever was employing me is assumed to be evil. All thinking has stopped. Just overwrought reaction.

The Glob: Ok, but what drove you underground?

RP: 911.

The Glob: The World Trade Center, etc.?!?

RP: Yep. Just try to defend looking extra hard at someone just because they are middle eastern or muslim. You can’t. You simply can’t. It is not allowed. So, we will stop someone’s grandma at the airport for a full body cavity search, but smugly decline searching through someone else’s luggage because they kind of look like they might be muslim or middle eastern, and, well, that would be prejudiced. For any law enforcement agency to have any credibility, they had to boot me out. (Hangs head, tear falls.)

And (snif) I’m really good. I can be very effective when used intelligently. I, I, … (voice trails off, RP stands and shuffles off.)

The Glob: Eh, good luck, OK? Bye? Ψ

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