....LMB: "White Crime"....

January 07, 2003

The Boston Globe is printing the results of a long investigative study in which they examined whether or not Massachusetts police officers engage in racial profiling. Not surprisingly, they do.

But here's the interesting part:

"Although blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be searched, whites are more likely than any other racial group to face drug charges following a search."

In other words, African-Americans and latinos are stopped and searched more often than whites (50% more often, according to the study), but the data shows that searches of white people's cars result in discovery of crime more often.

As a social scientist myself (kinda. I've got several important-sounding social science degrees), I know that this sort of thing should have caveats and warnings all over it (and if you're interested in them, post a comment here and I'll do what all good academics do: tear this report into tiny "these results are inconclusive" pieces). But to me, the main point is this:

Many folks seem to accept, or at least not oppose, racial profiling. They might agree that it's not egalitarian or just, but that maybe it's "necessary," buying into the stereotypes that people of color are simply more prone to criminal behavior than white folks, and that therefore racial profiling is simply an odious but pragmatic policy. If we can accept the data of this news report, the police would catch more criminals by searching white people's cars.

I don't say this as a smirky "see, white people are the real problem" jibe, but as a frowning "racial profiling is a dumb fucking idea" reality check. Racial profiling is a bad idea because it is a distraction. If you look at the numbers of this study, there really isn't that much difference in arrests among the races-

16% white
12% black
10% Hispanic
7% Asian
6% Native American
4% Middle Eastern

Frankly, there's not that much difference among those top 3, once you factor in margins of error.

Police shouldn't be in search of people of a certain race, thinking that they may have committed a crime, but should be trying to use clues and evidence to track down the right culprits, no matter what their race. Anything else is not only unjustly punishing members of one ethnicity, but threatens to let some criminals get away altogether.

Posted by Jake at 08:41 PM

but what do those percentages mean? unless i missed it, there is no interpretation of the overall number of drug related arrests. the percentages given are all skewed to look like whites are pulled over less, yet have more drug violations. i'm not for or against profiling cause they don't tell you the total arrests of the study and the respective percentages relative to race. 12% of blacks stopped were arrested for drugs right? that's what that % means. well what is that 12% in terms of the total number of arrests? you get what i'm saying? if its actually a large amount over whites, then sure, profiling is a relatively efficient way of getting more arrests based on the info given. but if it isn't, then that'd be a pretty powerful proof this profiling stuff is garbage.

Posted by: art at January 8, 2003 12:12 AM

what are the stats on gender and crime?

Posted by: laura at January 9, 2003 03:10 PM

Yeah, its nice... soo nice they have to delete posts that are unfavorable to their suspicion/conclusion.


Posted by: Jason at October 27, 2003 12:19 PM


Posted by: aric at December 2, 2003 07:45 AM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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