Remember the “Beltway Sniper” attacks in 2002, when a lunatic was driving around the Washington D.C. area picking off people with a rifle? The FBI immediately went to work on catching him and put together a profile based on their knowledge of these types of killings. The suspect was a white male, early to late 20′s, with military experience and driving a pickup truck or van. In other words: me.
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For the better part of three weeks that October with ten random people murdered and another three critically wounded in the rampage, an artist’s rendering of what investigators figured the perpetrator might look like splashed across network broadcasts and appeared above the fold in every newspaper in America. Although the science is not precise and was still just a guess, the analysis was based on solid law enforcement methodology and by experts in behavioral evidence. The fact that they were all convinced the killer was someone who looked like me didn’t bother me one bit – I and every other white male with military training in a pickup truck only wanted him caught (and executed).
There was no ACLU or “I got my feelings hurt” lawyers screaming about my state of mind on the whole issue of profiling and there’s a good reason for that: I’m a white male. We’re about the only group of people it’s okay to profile for and that’s just wrong. Political correctness is a lousy reason to limit the tactic to just white males. Authorities should be using every tool they have when investigating crime or fighting terrorism and that includes profiling everybody when it’s apropos. Thankfully the Beltway Sniper and his accomplice were apprehended despite neither of them resembling yours truly. D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey laid it out in no uncertain terms: “We were looking for a white van with white people, and we ended up with a blue car with black people.”
Nothing works every time, but you don’t throw out an effective weapon for law enforcement because it’s not 100% perfect. My point here is that I didn’t care that I was being profiled and neither should anyone else. So some white males in their early to late twenties in the DC area may have been inconvenienced during the shooting-spree, but who cares? It’s like saying because an innocent person gets arrested from time to time that police should not be able to arrest anyone. Just because it can be abused is another red herring – everything can be abused. The truth is we all profile, and I mean everybody:
You see a white guy with blue jeans, flannel and work boots, you think redneck. Hell, throw a southern drawl on him and you think backwoods hillbilly. How often do we see people using an extreme southern accent to represent a dummy? You see a black guy with a bandanna around his forehead, wearing a wife beater and you think thug. You see an Arabic person – he’s either a terrorist or the owner of a 7-Eleven. You see a large truck with ten Mexicans in the back, you think illegal migrant workers. You see a grinning idiot with hair plugs, you think Joe Biden. The list goes on and on…. Profiling is as normal as breathing, and it’s a damn smart device for law enforcement.
Let’s take members of the armed services – military guys – we are regularly profiled. If dispatch says there’s a bar fight in progress near the base, guess what? Cop thinks to himself it must be military guys – why? Because experience and history has led him to this conclusion. So what if it turns out it was two grandmothers’ – one in a wheelchair – fighting over a spilled Cosmopolitan. I’m kidding, but what are we doing pulling them out of line at the airport? The same with bad neighborhoods…. Dispatch: We have a shooting in such and such neighborhood… Cop thinks to himself that neighborhood at this time of day/night I’ll be looking for a young gang banger…
When the Boston Marathon was bombed on April 15th, there was nothing wrong with investigators postulating it might be the actions of people upset about taxes, nor calculating the probability that it was people from the same group responsible for flying planes into the World Trade Center. I have no idea if the FBI or other law enforcement entities were using profiling in Boston, but if they weren’t – they should have been. Three days after the bombing, an honorable MIT police officer, Sean Collier, was gunned down by radical Islamist terrorists Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Three days. Why don’t we ask Sean’s parents, his five brothers and sisters, or the 4,000 mourners who attended his funeral service if they think profiling is immoral?