Miss is looking anxiously to the skies, waiting for darkness to come at an earlier hour than 8PM, for the dusky firmament will signal a return to the classroom and the wayward ways of the academy. Until then, she’s had to satisfy her urge to erupt in sputtering indignation by reading op-eds from the stray professor who wanders off Lucy Vincent Beach long enough to ink some deep thoughts.
This morning brought “Racial Profiling Lives On”, an earnest attempt by not one but three law professors at UCLA to explain how the recent
ruling by Judge Scheindlin, of the Federal District Court in Manhattan, does nothing to disrupt the authority the Supreme Court has given police officers to target African-Americans and Latinos with little or no basis.
In other words, Mayor Bloomberg’s boys in blue can frisk away as they please without fear of racial reprisals.
People of good will can argue the merits of NYC’s stop-question-frisk policy, and whether safer city streets are too high a price to pay for stopping an innocent man, but the professors’ screed adds nothing to the conversation.
Instead, in the best tradition of faculty who use insinuation to maintain group think in their classrooms, the authors are masters of rhetorical slime. Consider their description of how the Supreme Court interprets the Fourth Amendment; the court, they say “gives the police frighteningly wide discretion to follow, stop, question, frisk and employ excessive force against African-Americans and Latinos who have shown virtually no indication of wrongdoing.” Are we to assume, as the professors’ language so vividly encourages us to do, that this interpretation gives police “wide discretion” only insofar as blacks and Hispanics are concerned?
If, by some slight chance, you have yet to understand what the authors want you to believe, read on:
That [the frighteningly wide discretion] might sound hyperbolic. But consider these 10 actions a hypothetical Officer Bloomberg could still take against a hypothetical black man, Tony.
For the next six paragraphs, the professors describe the Jewish cop getting tougher and tougher with the innocent black Tony. Then they–the writers–take a breather to inform readers that
the Supreme Court has made clear that simply being in a “high crime” (which often means a predominantly black or Latino) area can be a factor in determining whether a person is armed and dangerous.
Not once do the writers acknowledge that the Supreme Court, the mayor, or the police apply both their understanding of the Fourth Amendment and the stop-question-frisk policy to all people, regardless of their color, as circumstances warrant. Of course they don’t, because that would negate the entire whopper they are trying to feed you–that only blameless minorities are subject to the long arm of the law.
And if your minority of choice doesn’t happen to be black, don’t worry. The authors have something to get your blood boiling, too:
If Tony were a Latino, Officer Bloomberg could argue that Tony “looked Mexican,” and therefore believed that Tony was undocumented. Under a 1975 Supreme Court decision that remains good law, apparent Mexican ancestry can be a factor in determining whether a person is undocumented. Lots of local police departments, not just those in Arizona, regularly take race into account in enforcing immigration laws.
Upon arrest, no matter how minor the charge, Officer Bloomberg could handcuff Tony, conduct a full search of his person and haul him off to the police station.
Doesn’t it just make you so mad?! Cops who spend time looking for bad guys in high crime areas! Well, it should–because, according to these professors, the police pretty much ignore white (and, presumably, Asian) criminals because they are too busy hassling innocent black or brown Tony. Keep that in mind the next time Whitey Bulger pays you a call.