Saturday, June 7, 2014

Profiling v. Stereotyping: a crucial distinction

In a column included in his new book, Charles Krauthammer argues that we all stand in line at airports and dutifully remove our coats and belts and shoes, not because the transportation cops think we and aunts and grannies and kids are terrorists, but because to single out those who fit the well-established and well-known profile of a terrorist would be discriminatory.

He has a good point.  Profiling --- as opposed to stereotyping, which we all agree is discriminatory and therefore wrong and possibly illegal --- works.

I've made that argument in CRIME MAGAZINE.
Dan Korem has made it in his book, RAGE OF THE RANDOM ACTOR.

Korem makes some compelling arguments about the profile of the random actor, a profile that in some respects is counter-intuitive.

As we are cursed with yet anther round of random campus shootings, the time has come for more creative approaches.  Face it: we aren't going to get disarmament of the bad guys and nuts in America... just ain't happening.

Grief counseling and vigils just don't cut it.  

So, two questions:

1.  Can profiling work?

2.  Can it be practiced without violating civil liberties?

I for one believe both questions are capable of affirmative answers.  If I'm right, well then...?

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