Saturday, December 23, 2006

Profiling is Practical

Profiling has become a dirty word in law enforcement. I believe this is another example of political correctness run amok.

When I was a teenager, I feared the police, the highway patrol, deputy sheriffs, etc. Why? Because it was obvious they were paying extra close attention to people like me. Why did they do this to me, a nerdy white kid? Because law enforcement folks knew that a disproportionate amount of law breaking is done by teenagers. They knew youngsters like me often caused problems. In a word, the police were profiling.

Being practical folks, the police pay more attention to members of groups whose members are more likely to commit crimes. This is entirely logical behavior. Let me demonstrate.

If you see a hornet, wasp or bumble bee buzzing around you, you are likely to become worried. On the other hand, a butterfly would not arouse the same reaction. Why? You are profiling, of course. In general, the former are dangerous and the latter is not.

When I see the Transportation Safety Administration folks at an airport giving the third degree to some little white-haired grandmother, I think “how silly have we become?” Almost all of the terrorist acts committed in recent years have been the work of young, Islamic men. Is it unreasonable to pay additional attention to such individuals who wish to fly? I think not.