Racial profiling tends to have a bad stigma about it but is unwarranted? By exploring the concept of racial profiling we can get to the heart of the matter. Does it have advantages? Are there disadvantages? Does one outweigh another? By breaking it down we can sort out this highly controversial topic.
List of Pros of Racial Profiling
1. From an entirely objective point of view racial profiling does have its merits. If you look statistically at the number of terrorist attacks and the organizations that promote them have a very strong tie to certain racial statistics. By using these statistics as a starting point you can greatly enhance a current security measure. Couple this with the geographic locations that are known to be prevalent with terrorist activity it can be reasonably assumed that a certain type of person is more likely to be either associated with or working for one or more of these groups. For example, most terrorist groups reside in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Combine this with the majority of terrorist groups being associated with religious fanaticism as well as tending to be between the ages of 18 and 30 and male you can reasonably assume that a 23 year old male hailing from Southeast Asia, traveling alone, wearing religious paraphernalia may be associated with these groups and potentially cause an major problems. This is the specific reason we have criminal profilers to help law enforcement and security personnel isolate types of people that are statistically tied to certain crimes.
2. Another example is in the case of serial killers. The average serial killer tends to be male between the ages of 25 and 40, white, single, and from middle to lower economic upbringing. In the event a series of serial killings takes place these are the people you screen for suspects. In essence racial profiling is the equivalent of rounding up the usual suspects but instead of just a handful of people that might have ties to a crime you are screening people that statistically are tied to a potential crime. To be clear, criminal profiling is entirely for the purposes of prevention.
3. Additionally compared to other forms of criminal screening racial profiling is a lot cheaper and allows for more autonomy by the screening professionals; compared to full body scanners or metal detectors that require specifically trained personal, extensive overhead, as well as lengthy screening processes. This as well as that any major screening measure like these only last as long as the group your trying to prevent from causing trouble figures out how to bypass them.
List of Cons of Racial Profiling
1. One of the biggest issues people have with racial profiling is the overt racism associated with it. By its nature you are singling out a specific race under the assumption that there is a greater chance that they will potentially cause trouble. Couple this with confirmation bias and you have a one two punch for an individual to be racist towards a specific group. The justice system is built on the idea of equal and fair treatment of all mankind; Innocent until proven guilty. Racial profiling, however, reverses this notion by applying guilt to individuals based mostly on their physical characteristics and then makes them prove their innocence. This on top of the fact that there is no guarantee that it will actually succeed at preventing or finding anyone associated with any criminal activity. Even when used by trained professionals statistically it leads to greater racial discrimination at very little reward. At its best it may find one or two subjects of potential criminal activity out of thousands.
2. All of that at the cost of detaining, investigating, and interrogating a majority of innocent individuals just for the potential to possible prevent someone from causing a problem. This is especially relevant in the wake of various cases of racially motivated police misconduct. We as a society rely on our police and security personal to be impartial. If we cannot put our faith in our own protectors then they do not deserve to have that position. As mentioned criminals and terrorists alike will find a way around any security protocols if they so desired to. No security system is perfect so alienating and passing judgment based solely on race does not accomplish anything other than indirect racism.
Racial profiling has both its merits and its faults. However, its faults are far greater than its merits. In a perfect world it would have a logical reason for being but this sadly not a perfect world. Far too often it is distorted, abused and misused for all the wrong reasons and for this it stands to reason that racial profiling has no place in this society.