By Tom Snyder
On the television show “What Would You Do?” profiling of all types is shown to still be very real in our society.
Good-looking women are helped in committing a crime while “normal”-looking women get confronted by the public or police. Blacks (and whites) with Hoodies are looked at suspiciously as potential trouble makers. Many customers (and clerks) in stores still look at two foreign-speaking people and comment to other customers about how they should be speaking English or American.
In a humorous conversation with the local police chief about profiling, I mentioned using my large telescope. His humorous but real reply: “Someone will probably report the use of a large cannon or other weapon and we will have to investigate.”
If I was seen walking my 7-year-old granddaughter back home, a suspicious-looking old guy could be reported as taking or abducting her.
The issue here is the normal human nature of being suspicious.
Marc Anthony being criticized for singing “God Bless America” (last week’s baseball All-Star Game) as a foreigner is true profiling based on looks and lack of facts.
No law is going to change human nature concerning being overly suspicious because of differences in language, color of skin, or looks.
While reading and watching the George Zimmerman after-trial fiasco, I keep thinking about the Salem witch trials (of the late 1600s). If you were accused of being a witch (usually females), you were guilty, period. No facts needed, they will cloud my thinking.
From teaching science for more than 40 years, I think very few people today would pass the class because we confuse our beliefs and prejudices with knowing or understanding the facts. One reason that we do not do well with facts in today’s world is that everyone has an opinion based on their “facts.” Most of us do not check out the sources very well, or at all. It is common to pay attention to only those “facts” that support our belief system.
One example, in my opinion, of how profiling is used to keep racial unrest in the news is the use of the “N” word. “Nigger” is used in President Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope.” This word is seen as profiling by “white” Americans but is accepted in the (African American-black) community. How I hate this unfair profiling against whites!
I am going to make a very safe bet that George Zimmerman will be found “guilty” of racial profiling (in a lawsuit). This verdict will not be based on facts, but on the human nature and mob mentality that is swelling across the country. It also will happen because Zimmerman will not be able to raise enough money to defend himself.
This is profiling him as guilty when facts say otherwise. It will not be based on his stupidity of carrying a gun in a neighborhood watch situation. This has nothing to do with “stand your ground” law.
Instead, it will occur because people want some form of guilty verdict (for the victim) and our Attorney General, the president, and other politicians will oblige us.
That will be the unfair tragedy to our justice system.
Tom Snyder of Dyersville is a solar thermal licensing instructor at Northeast Iowa Community College, teaches summer school at the University of Dubuque and operates a business, Alternate Energy System. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org