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Opening Arguments


This seems like a ditinction that's hard to justify:

Today, the Obama administration will reveal new updates to its guidelines on racial profiling. Politico explains the new guidelines will tighten “limits on the practice but still allow federal law enforcement agencies to employ it at airports and along the border.”

The new policy will make some additions to the 2003 guidelines instituted by the Bush administration. The Bush guidelines applied only to race, but the updated Obama administration guidelines will also ban “profiling on the basis of religion, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identification.”

[. . .]

But there are exceptions: for screening and inspection at the border and for transportation security, for Border Control and ICE activities at the border, and for Secret Service protective activities. But, DHS said, “This does not mean that officers and agents are free to profile. To the contrary, DHS’ existing policies make it categorically clear that profiling is prohibited, while articulating limited circumstances where it is permissible to rely in part on these characteristics, because of the unique nature of border and transportation security, as compared to traditional law enforcement.”

So, preventing terrorism is important, therefore profiling will be allowed? Since profiling for just plain, old crime isn't allowed, does that mean preventing plain, old crime isn't important? And just as an aside, how in the world would you profile for "sexual orientation and gender identity"? Make them wear signs? And just what potential crimes are those among the nontraditionally sexually oriented and gender identifying supposed to be prone to commit?

I think we have to be careful to make a distinction between stopping suspects when actual crimes have been committed and just stopping people to check them out in general for looking or seeming suspicious. There is a world of differnce between stopping somebody for "driving while black" and stopping tall black (or white) men when a crime has been committed by someone described as, say, 6 foot 5 and black (or white).

And we've all heard the objection: Why do they stop and frisk little old white women in wheelchairs at airports when we all know the bomber is likely to be a young man of Middleastern descent? But to tell you the truth, if I were going to try to get a bomb into an airport, in that little old lady's wheelchair is exactly where I'd put it.