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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Profiling: The Elephant in the Room at Zimmerman Trial

Those that want to “hang” George Zimmerman rest their hopes on the prosecution’s success in showing that he profiled Trayvon Martin—singled him out for suspicion—because he was black.

If the jury can be convinced of this, they reason, then regardless of who jumped who, of who was in fear for their life during the fight, the shooting of unarmed Trayvon constitutes murder in the 2nd degree because of the racial animus implicit in the racial profiling, without which there would have been no altercation.

“Profiling” is commonly thought of as using a person’s race, sex, ethnicity, religion, or cultural background (the list continues to grow...) as a primary predictor of their likelihood to commit some egregious act.  To get an operational definition of “profiling” we need to append the clause: “when the target of the profiling belongs to an acceptable victim group.”

Profiling is inextricably linked with political correctness.

It turns out that there had been many recent break-ins at the Twin Lakes gated housing development in Sanford, FL where Zimmerman lived and Trayvon was visiting. The recession had decimated the property values of the homes in the relatively young housing development. Units that originally sold in the $250k range to owner-occupiers had since plummeted in value to the $80k range—a situation familiar to many throughout the US, and especially so to communities in Florida which was particularly hard-hit by the housing bubble collapse.

Subsequently, many of the units at Twin Lakes were rented, and a crime-wave of burglaries ensued. According to statements heard at the trial and corroborated by crime reports, all of the most recent 7 break-ins were committed by black men. Therefore, there is a likelihood that the next break-in will also be committed by a black man, or put another way, it is statistically more likely that a black male rather than a white male will commit a burglary at the housing complex.

But under the prohibition against profiling, any crime-prevention efforts must ignore the statistical likelihood that break-ins at the development are caused, perhaps exclusively, by black males. This begs the question: When does it become okay to acknowledge that the perpetrators of the break-ins are black males, and act accordingly with that knowledge in any preventive measures to address crime in the complex?  What if there were 10 break-ins, all perpetrated by black males? One hundred? 

At what point does it become not only an absurdity but also, and more importantly, does it actually undermine law enforcement efforts, when the demographic profile of the people committing the crimes is deliberately ignored?

Apparently no one questions that profiling is an evil practice, the accusation of which will cause an alleged “profiler” to twist and turn in linguistic contortions trying to explain how recognizing the racial identity of past criminal behavior in a given community is not ...  recognizing the racial identity of past criminal behavior in the given community.  Yes, it’s an impossible task, and amusing to watch in the Zimmerman trial, in a perverse sort of way.

This illogical, counterproductive obeisance to political correctness is not restricted to the disproportional prevalence of black crime. It also explains why TSA agents avoid profiling the group solely responsible for all the acts of terrorism at our airports since 9/11—middle-eastern/northern-African Islamics—by also body-searching white grandmothers in wheelchairs and 4-year-old children.

But as stated above, profiling is only profiling when the target group is a legitimate “victim group” as established by the canons of political correctness.

One particularly virulent strain of profiling occurs each and every day throughout the nation, but it is never acknowledged as such and hence it’s never in the news and never the subject of a “study” by well-meaning, progressive social science academics. Nor is it fodder for a Hollywood drama starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, screaming out for social justice and warmly rewarded with an Oscar on that night when Hollywood celebrities revel in their circle-jerk of self-righteousness.

The most pernicious, pervasive, unjust —and apparently completely invisible!—form of profiling is visited upon men accused of “gender crimes,” mired in everyday courtroom dramas that never make it to cable TV.  Accusations of domestic abuse/violence that coincidentally occur when a divorce is filed and custody of children is an issue. Men accused of sexual assault or rape in so-called “date-rape” cases after the “victim” has second thoughts the following morning. Men who seek custody of their children, even when there are no allegations of abuse made by the mother.

In the abstract, profiling is akin to the process of using discrimination (in the textbook, i.e., good sense of the word) to make decisions. That is, the process whereby we employ observation, logic, perhaps supported by some probability and statistics analysis, all in concert to make strategic decisions about a future action.  To optimize a choice. An example might be in industry whereby decisions are made in Quality Control on how to test a production line of widgets in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
“Profiling” in the common, legal usage, i.e., circumscribed by the parameters of identity politics, transmogrifies this process into something evil.

Somehow, when it comes to matters of crime prevention and air-traffic safety, to use two of the more familiar examples, we have all been brainwashed to pretend that recognizing a profile of the criminal perpetrators is somehow wrong and must be condemned and prohibited. George Zimmerman should be found guilty of 2nd –degree murder because he profiled Trayvon Martin, regardless of the facts of the actual altercation that are emerging in the trial.

If you lived in the Twin Lakes gated community and were aware of the history of break-ins, would you be more suspicious of a strange black man in a hoodie than you would of a white man you didn’t recognize? If no, then you deserve the politically correct seal of approval for your bias-free powers of observation; however you fail miserably in life skills and common sense, and if it were your job to safeguard the security of the residents you would be woefully derelict in your duties and should be fired.

Consider these crime statistics: 
  • Blacks commit 42% of all burglaries, a rate exceeding 3 times their proportion (13%) in the general population.[i]
  • Blacks commit 55% of all robberies, 4 times their proportion in the general population.[ii]
  • Blacks are 7 times as likely as whites to commit murder.[iii]
  • The single biggest predictor of violent crime levels in an area is the percentage of the population that is black and Hispanic.[iv]
  • 28% of people arrested for burglary are black.[v]
Look closely at the last stat. How do we account for the fact that though 42% of all burglaries were committed by blacks, only 28% of those arrested were black?

This is not an aberration. It turns out that, contrary to what we are led to believe, blacks are not arrested “en masse” on suspicion of criminality. In fact they are arrested at rates less than the actual rates at which they statistically commit the crimes. With respect to arrest rates, blacks are in fact, “reverse-profiled.” The explanation for this is that in response to political pressure, police departments have adjusted policies to afford especial leniency to blacks and minorities.

An example of this can actually be found in the Zimmerman trial. Trayvon Martin had a criminal history—though the jury has been protected from this knowledge. Trayvon benefitted from a policy of the Miami-Dade Sanford Police Department geared to minimize school arrests of black males. Trayvon had been apprehended with a burglary tool and also with pilfered jewelry. These offenses should’ve been arrestable, but political pressure to show improvements in juvenile delinquency in the school district fudged the reports, including one for pot possession, such that Trayvon’s punishment was limited to two school suspensions.

Unfortunately I suffer from an acute case of rationalism, so to me it seems a no-brainer that rather than looking for ways to hide these politically incorrect inconvenient truths by attacking “profiling” and “stop-and-frisk” policies, we should be using any and all legal means at our disposal to actually deal with these crimes, including profiling.

And if you’re really interested in the ‘why’ of the appallingly high rates of black crime, refer to the paragraph above regarding the “invisible” profiling. The strategic correlation to be made is with children raised without their fathers...  but that leads to a 3rd rail even hotter than racial profiling.

[i] NCVS incident-level data for the years 2001 to 2003 were extracted from US, Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics

[ii] ibid
[iii] Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011, Nov. 16, http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/htus8008pr.cfm
[iv] The Color of Crime: Race, Crime, and Justice in America, 2005, New Century Foundation
[v] US, Dept. of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Crime in the United States, 2002 [This is the official title of document that is based on the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR).]

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