Monday, January 29, 2007

How Does This Grab You?

Scenario: A home in a nearby neighborhood was vandalized the other night, and a significant amount of damage was done to the property. Things like this are uncommon in our little burg, and residents pride themselves in its reputation as a safe place to live. Witnesses said they saw a group of five men/boys on foot high-tailing it away from the scene and getting in an SUV, but didn't get a good enough look at any of them to give a description. All were dressed in typical teen garb, all were white, varying in size.

Police have been actively searching for clues and aggressively investigating this crime. They have begun stopping and questioning young white males, either in groups or alone, in the area around the crime scene. Parents of the boys who have been stopped and questioned are outraged that their sons have been targeted with no more evidence than that they bore a resemblance to the kids spotted near the crime scene. The police have now decided to stop everyone in the vicinity of the crime, whether male or female, white or black or Asian or whatever, dressed in teen clothing or adult attire or whatever, to avoid being accused of profiling and unfairly targeting young boys.

Police admit that by widening their questioning to people that do not fit the profile they will be talking to far more people than before, and that will take more time and make it more difficult to find the culprits, and that more of the people they talk to will not be the perpetrators, but they say in the interest of fairness they will not focus on people who are the more likely vandals because it would be unfair to innocent people who resemble the vandals.

Is this a great country, or what?

I am continually amazed by the reaction of certain groups among us at "profiling," whether racial or ethnic or national. Various "rights groups" bristle at being singled out at airports, or questioned about crimes, even though someone who resembles them is the person most likely to have committed the crime in question or to be prepared to blow up an airplane or building. They are more concerned with their feelings being hurt than with criminals being caught or terrorists being stopped before they kill and maim, and a whole bunch of the rest of us somehow agrees with them.

But here's something they and we had better think about: If there is another significant terrorist attack inside the United States, the loss of freedom these folk imagine they have experienced through profiling will pale in comparison to the actual freedom we all will lose when our government will have been given a reason to get really tough on rooting out terrorists before they strike us. Millions of Americans will support that effort, and then it will not only be uncomfortable for everybody, but the level of fear will have grown immensely.

No comments: