Tuesday, July 12, 2005

BY THE NUMBERS

July 10, 2005 Civil libertarians argue that the Patriot Act curtails American freedoms. Fans of the act say those fears are overblown. By the numbers, since inception of the Patriot Act through 2004:

Civil rights complaints to the Justice Department's inspector general:

7,136

Number of those deemed related to the Patriot Act:

1

"Sneak and peek" warrants, allowing searches without telling a subject:

155

Roving wiretaps:

49

Personal records seizures under Section 215 of the act:

35

Source: Justice Department inspector general

This article is as good as any in regards to the importance of The Patriot Act. And this.

Really....there is such scare-mongering and misunderstanding over The Patriot Act.

Personally, I have no problem with profiling. I believe the Israelis profile, to great success. Profiling doesn't mean you automatically believe someone is an enemy/criminal/terrorist. But it's ridiculous to be so racially/ethnically sensitive, that you ignore obvious characteristics....and confuse prejudice and racism for common sense and the paying attention of, red flags and patterns of behavior that an individual exhibits. The PC crap may get us killed. To hell with that. If it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, if it looks like a duck...well guess what, Sherlock? Bloody 'ell, I'll be damned if it ain't a flappin' duck!!!

I relate it in this manner:

I used to do security work for a retail company; and part of my job was keeping my eyes open for shoplifters. To borrow the special forces color coding system, for a moment, as an instore detective, you should always maintain a status of yellow alert. This should be your level of scrutiny in how you treat everyone who enters the store.

Now, let's say you have 2 customers enter your store and one of them is wearing a 2 piece bikini and the other is dressed in baggy clothes. Who are you going to pay attention to more? (Ok...you male pigs...forget that it's a 2-piece bikini, but a dude in speedos). Logic, not racial or cultural/class discrimination, demands that the customer in the sagging pants raise your level of alertness initially to orange alert.....until you've had some adequate time to observe the customer in sagging jeans to profile his pattern of behavior. Shoplifters often exhibit behavioral shopping patterns that are different from regular shoppers. If he shops like a normal person, he's clear. You've lowered your alertness level from orange back down to yellow (never white alert.....even innocent ol' granny could be a professional shoplifter!). In the case of the customer in speedo and the customer in baggy clothing, what you are distinguishing in your initial assessment, is the fact that the person with loose clothing has greater opportunity for theft; not that you actually believe he has come into the store to steal (to the extent that as a security person, you have to assume that everyone who enters the store could be a potential shoplifter).

Another analogy: if I see someone walking down the street and he's wearing an expensive name-brand suit and tie, Rolex watch, and I hear him talking in an Italian accent with someone over a cell-phone, it's safe to assume this guy has money and possible influence and is foreign...probably Italian. I just profiled him, within seconds, without knowing him. It was automatic. By the same token, if I see someone wearing a Bruce Springsteen concert T-shirt, I might assume he is probably a fan of Bruce Springsteen. I could be completey wrong, but, logically, am I really far out of the ballpark in making this wild hunch? Based on that, I might even assume he might be liberal; the chances of this are less likely, based on this initial assessment. But again, I have some ample reason to think that if he likes Bruce's music, enough so as to wear his concert t-shirt, perhaps he might share Bruce's political views, as well. It's worth further investigation, of course. (For the record, I love Bruce Springsteen's music on a pretty consistent basis; but as you can tell from this blog, I share little in common with him, politically).

If someone dresses and speaks in a manner that is reflective of hip-hop culture, is it really so outrageous for me to "stereotype" this person's tastes and assume he likes hip-hop? Again, I could be wrong, but still, it is a logical conclusion that I've drawn.

Our brains classify and stereotype all the time, naturally. It is a way to process and organize information. It is not being racist, in the negative connotation of the word. If a person is black, you're going to assume he has black parents, even though it might not be the case.

I'll give one more example: my ethnic makeup is Southeast Asian. I am, however, adopted (born in Phoenix, Arizona) from birth. My father is white caucasian, so I have a European last name.

Let's say I'm making a store purchase and upon handing my credit card to the cashier, who reads the name on the card and the signature on the back, she asks to see my driver's license. Should I automatically feel indignant and put upon, because I feel that she is probably singling me out? That she is being racially insensitive to my feelings by assuming that I'd have an Asian last name, because I look Asian? Isn't this stereotyping, by assuming that everyone has parents who are biologically their own, and hence familial last names that reflect one's ancestral heritage? Well....d'uh! Yes of course, it is! And SO WHAT?!?! The cashier made a logical presumption. And quite frankly, shouldn't I be happy that, even if she hadn't asked the other customers in line who came before me (although, for true security, everyone should have been asked), it shows a level of wherewithal that she at least had enough sense to doublecheck that I am in fact the owner of the credit card I handed her?

The chances of someone's last name not being reflective of their ethnicity, unless you are a female of marrying age, are slim enough, that it is ok for orange flags to go off, that maybe the credit card I am handing the store clerk might, in fact, belong to someone else.

This is my long-winded, 2 in the AM, roundabout way of saying, I really don't give a flamin' care about racial profiling if it saves us from another 9/11. Given the 5oo million pouring across our borders every year, I'd say, "go ahead and encroach upon my civil liberties by examining my library checkouts." Seriously, The Patriot Act, if anything, doesn't go far enough. I'm sick of the irrational scare-mongering over this. Even though I've not read her book, I've read enough about it to say I'm in complete alignment to Michelle Malkin's take on these matters.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Mark said...

Exactly how I feel. I will endure a humiliationg strip search if it is SOP in order to prevent further 9/11 type catastrophe's. And in my opinion, anyone that objects to policies put in place to prevent terrorism is either a terrorist themselves or just ignorant. Of course I do object to it if I am strip searched and the middle eastern guy with the suspicious package under his arm isn't.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

Wordsmith, you are so right! I get so tired of people making negative associations of "profiling" or even "discriminating." While we obviously have to work to ensure civil rights protections, those words--by definition--are absolutely normal and necessary in human interaction. Great analogies!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 6:55:00 AM  

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