Friday, October 25, 2002

Thick As Shite Award

Consider the following from Andrew S.:
"According to the Washington Post yesterday, the cops stopped the Chevy Caprice on October 8. Here's how the Washington Post describes what happened:
'The blue Caprice discovered today was believed to have been approached in Baltimore by police who found Muhammad sleeping on Oct. 8, the day after a 13-year-old boy in Bowie was wounded as the eighth victim of the sniper, the sources said. The car was spotted in a parking lot off 28th Street, near the exit ramp to Interstate 83. Muhammad was allowed to go, although his name was put into an information data bank in Baltimore, the sources said. 'Everyone was looking for a white car with white people,' said one high-ranking police source. Muhammad and Malvo are black males.'
I'm a little suspicious about the wording here: '... was believed to have been approached ...' But I see no refutation of this incident in today's papers. And then there's the stunning quote: "Everyone was looking for a white car with white people." Get that? There's a word for this: racial profiling. It's wrong in itself but it's simply astounding that this profiling by the police was also followed by the deaths of several more people. Why isn't this a scandal? The only reason the cops - not "everyone," in the weasel words of the "high-ranking police source" - were looking for a white guy was allegedly because only white guys are serial killers or snipers....
"In other words, the whole notion of racial profiling in this case was hooey in the first place. Even if he had been a typical sniper killer, there was close to a 50 percent chance of his being non-white. And yet the cops let a man go because of his race."
(Emphasis Sully's.)
Where to begin?
First, let's look at Sully's close, nuanced reading of the quote in question. Sully believes the cops "stopped the Chevy Caprice" while the article says that the vehicle was spotted in a parking lot with Muhammed asleep inside.
More substantively, let's look at the charge of "racial profiling." Assume, for the sake of argument, that Sully's reading of the article (on this point) was correct: The Baltimore P.D. believed for whatever reason that the sniper(s) could only be "white people." (Of course, that requires one to assume that the anonymous "high-ranking source" was accurately characterizing the police position, a conclusion which Sully reaches by rewriting the quote to his liking.) But let's pretend for the sake of argument. Also assume that the police weren't working from bad information, i.e., inaccurate reports of the alleged sniper's race, just as they were working from inaccurate reports of the alleged sniper's vehicle. Let's say that police thought, for no logical reason, that the sniper could only be white. Just because Sully is so desparate for that to be true.
Did this alleged "racial profiling" result in the death of more victims? If you take the quote at face value, and even if you accept Sully's spin: No. "Everyone was looking for a white car with white people." If Muhammad had been a white man, would cops have suspected him? No, because he wasn't in a white car. If the police suspected black men as well, would the cops have suspected him? No, because he wasn't in a white car.
Now let's say that the police didn't limit their suspicions to the occupants of white vehicles. Sully says they shouldn't have ruled out non-white people either. In that case, everyone (or at least every occupant of a vehicle) was a potential suspect. Hardly a helpful profile, let alone reason to suspect Muhammed.
But here's the capper. Sully's conclusion: "And yet the cops let a man go because of his race." A black man was found sleeping in his car, in a public parking lot. My God. What more evidence did the police need? How could they not immediately realize that Muhammad was a black man sleeping in a car, and therefore by definition was the person responsible for shooting eight people? A sane person might say they let him go because they had no evidence Muhammed had committed a crime, not because of his race.
Actually, Sully may have stumbled onto a brilliant crime-stopping tactic. Whenever a crime is committed, everyone who is found sleeping in public the next day must be arrested as the guilty party. Call It The First Law of Sully, the Unintentional Orwellian.

No comments: