The Instigator
clsmooth
Pro (for)
Losing
15 Points
The Contender
Daxitarian
Con (against)
Winning
30 Points

Police profiling is collectivist, un-American, unconstitutional, and ineffective.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,963 times Debate No: 717
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (14)
Votes (15)

 

clsmooth

Pro

I am challenging my opponent, Daxitarian, to this debate because I agree with him on so many issues -- and yet I am shocked to see his support for "police profiling." I argue against "profiling" on philosophical, moral, legal, and utilitarian grounds. (By the way: This bout is schedule for two rounds, not three).

1. "Profiling" is collectivist: This is self-evident. Profiling is premised on the notion that human beings are not individuals, but rather, members of groups. Collectivism is the root of all evil philosophies -- tribalism, racism, Jihadist Islamicism, nationalism, welfarism, and socialism/communism, to name just a few. It presupposes that you can know a sufficient amount about a person based on his or her classification into a particular group. If this is untrue -- i.e. if human beings are individuals first -- then clearly, profiling cannot be effective.

2. "Profiling" is un-American: My arguments for this are fairly simple. For one, America was founded under principles of individualism, the opposite of collectivism. This individualism was embodied in our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Which brings me to my next point.

3. "Profiling" is unconstitutional. Amendment XIV: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAWS." In addition to the 14th (which was questionably ratified, I admit), there is also an argument to be made per the Fourth Amendment, protecting citizens from unreasonable search. Is racial identity sufficient alone for "probable cause?"

4. "Profiling" is ineffective: If we accept collectivism as valid (i.e. giving in to the David Dukes and Jesse Jacksons of the world), then "profiling" is still ineffective -- at least when applied to the "War on Terror." There are millions of non-Arab Muslims from lands far outside the Middle East. There are millions of Muslims in China, for example. Indonesia is the most populuous Muslim nation on the planet. There are European Muslims, such as the Chechen rebels, who appear as "white" as the average North Dakotan. And all of these regions have Al Qaeda and other radical elements. If Al Qaeda were to undertake another mission in the U.S., why would they use Arab agents? Why not use African Muslims who appear as black Americans? Literally every "race" of man on Earth has radical Muslim adherents amid its ranks. Thus, "profiling" cannot possibly be effective, even if you give in to its immorality and illegality.
Daxitarian

Con

What I detest about questions such as those on the profiles is that they don't give a very nuanced explanation (I.E. Since I am basically, as of writing this, a free-market anarchist, does 0% count as a flat tax?) But yes, we do seem to agree on great deal of things and have many of the same influences--Hayek, Rand, Milton Friedman and David Friedman among some of mine. I haven't read as much Von Mises or Ruthbard, but the little I know about them I like. So I'll try to explain what I mean by profiling and if the argument turns out to be a nit-picking of semantics, I'll just give one for a different view of profiling.

Reply to 1: Profiling is based on probabilities. Being in a group does not make one less of an individual. For example, if I am in the republican party, that doesn't mean I am not an individual (well, maybe it does for that party, but that is another conversation), but it does increase the chance that I have done certain acts (like voting for republicans). So if you were trying to find people who voted republican, you would look mostly for republicans.

Profiling isn't just used in tracking criminals. Medicine uses racial profiling to diagnose diseases. Some groups of people are more likely to have certain diseases over others. To say you can't know anything about a person just by what group they are in isn't exactly true. You can know certain probabilities. That's how marketing works, by looking at demographics and psychographics and determining which group of people is most likely to buy a certain product. So a marketer could use profiling and not believe in collectivism.

It's that way in medicine, marketing, and criminal behavior. Serial killers are most likely to be white men. Since resources are limited, you can't screen everyone at the airport equally. And if you are trying to find terrorists, young muslim men with extensive traveling to the middle east are more likely to hijack a plane than a 5-foot 80 year old woman from Florida. It doesn't mean that all muslim men have to be searched, but if resources are a limitation, and a screening procedure is necessary for airline security, then it would make sense to not search as many old women as it does young muslim-arab men.

Reply to 2 and 3: What was founded at America's beginning doesn't dictate right and wrong. Blacks were counted as 3/5ths as a person and women were not allowed to vote. America's individualism is sort of a work in progress.

I haven't been able to search any court cases on profiling because for some reason Lexis Nexis isn't working. I'm not a constitutional scholar by any means, and I won't deny that profiling can be unconstitutional if used to convict people of crimes before they are committed. But I'm not sure searching one groups luggage more frequently than another's is crossing that line. Of-course, you could say that none of this would be needed if airlines would be put completely in charge of their own security and had guns on planes and I would say you were right.

But I can side step all the constitutional stuff with this: Suppose I opened a completely private airline company "Daxitarian Airlines." Also, for security I contract "Daxitarian Security Services LLC." The security provided is based on a mathematical formula that takes into account several variables and uses it to determine how likely you are to be subjected to a random search (i.e. the probabilities that match up with each group have a terrorist in them correlate to the percentage of searches for a particular group.) To get on board you have to agree to take part in this lottery. Does this violate anyone's rights? So I don't know how exactly the constitution comes down on what government run security can do at airports, but private police profiling seems to be okay, and hence, my profile has police profiling as "agree."

Reply to 4: It doesn't have to be perfectly effective, just more effective than what else is available. There are other screening technologies available that could be used to make the case as something more effective than police profiling is available (such as face recognition technology) but for the purposes of this conversation, I won't get into those.

It has to be somewhat effective because profiling is used in a wide array of things from medicine to marketing. Gambling is a type of profiling because you are assessing what the odds are that certain events will occur in the future. Granted that there are some other non-arab muslims, but what is focused on is what groups of muslims want to kill us. I don't think terrorists are very multi-cultural. And the ones most actively trying to hurt us are mostly arab muslims from certain parts of the middle east. If it were the case that a statistically significant group of non-arab muslims were trying to hurt us, then those probabilities would be accounted for in the profiling. The attacks in Europe since 9/11 haven't been carried out by old white muslim women, but rather the same demographic that carried out 9/11.

Anyway, police profiling isn't really a hot button issue for me, but in principal I'm not really against it, but I might change my profile.
Debate Round No. 1
clsmooth

Pro

Thanks for taking the debate.

The question here is clearly of "POLICE profiling" -- both in the heading of this debate, and in the Debate.org questionnaire. The "police profiling" issue is defined by debate.org as, "The law enforcement community should be allowed to use profiling in order to deter crime." You answered IN FAVOR. Very clearly, the law enforcement is the government, so you are saying you're IN FAVOR of government-sponsored discrimination.

So-called "medical profiling" may have some basis, but that's not the question here. The question is "police profiling." While members of certain "racial groups" may indeed have genetics that predispose them to certain medical ailments, by arguing for police profiling, you are saying these genetic characteristics also predispose them to criminality.

Here is what Ayn Rand had to say on the matter:

"Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage -- the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors."

Source: http://aynrandlexicon.com...

Rand, whom you cite as an influence, says the belief that "characterological traits are produced and transmitted by [man's] internal body chemistry" is the essence of racism, and "racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism." Police profiling fits this description to a tee, and the difference between "medical profiling" and police profiling is obvious, since there are, indeed, genetic differences based on "race," whereas only the collectivist (racist) believes there are moral, social, political, or characterological differences based on "race."

POINT 2: How America was founded is indeed apropos -- the subject of the debate includes "profiling is un-American." Now, I chose the parameters of the debate, so if you want to cede this point, I will agree to call it moot.

POINT 3: In a free society, Daxtarian Airlines would be perfectly free to discriminate and "profile" on any basis it wanted to. If such discrimination is wrong, as I believe it to be, then Daxtarian Airlines would pay a penalty in the form of lost market share, revenues, and profits. But the government pays no such penalty. Individuals and private groups should be allowed to discriminate at their own expense, but not the government, because it does so at OUR expense -- and "our" includes that segment of the population that is discriminated against! We are all promised equal protection under the law and a republican form of government -- Daxtarian Airlines has nothing to do with these constitutional covenants.

POINT 4: Again, the issue is government discrimination, not marketing or medicine. More specifically, the issue is the profiling of Arabs, when the FACT of the matter is that there are radical Muslims of every race (save perhaps American-Indians and Latinos), and the likelihood is that Al Qaeda would recruit from Sudan or Chechnya or China, etc., for another 9/11, rather than using a turban-clad Arab with a prayer rug and "Death to America" tattooed on his forehead.
Daxitarian

Con

clsmooth: "The law enforcement community should be allowed to use profiling in order to deter crime." Very clearly, the law enforcement is the government, so you are saying you're IN FAVOR of government-sponsored discrimination.

Reply: I don't think it is very clearly that the law enforcement is the government, since I think government police should be abolished and replaced with private security. So, I could try to get off with that technicality. Also, with the profile thing, when I checked the boxes, they gave no "pop-up" explanation when filling out the questions. I have just discovered that on the profile.

clsmooth: "So-called "medical profiling" may have some basis, but that's not the question here. The question is "police profiling." While members of certain "racial groups" may indeed have genetics that predispose them to certain medical ailments, by arguing for police profiling, you are saying these genetic characteristics also predispose them to criminality."

Reply: Yes, genetics does play a role in behavior and hence criminality. It's called behavioral genetics, or psycho-genetics. For example, we have "mirror neurons" that play a role in empathy. If you have more of these, you would be less likely to want to inflict pain on others. http://www.reason.com... If you are really interested, there is an article in the Jan. 2005 issue of Psychiatric Services titled "Behavioral Genetics and the Punishment of Crime" (You can read it on Academic Search Elite which is available at most libraries) that goes into some detail about the possibility of an MAOA enzyme that could play a role in impulse aggression and personality disorders. Of course police profiling isn't based on genetics, and genetics isn't the only factor in predisposition of criminality. Just saying you have genes for one of the things described above isn't all their is to personality. How genes are formed in relation to one another and the environment.

So if there is a correlation between poverty and crime, if you were trying to find where criminals are, you would patrol poorer areas. (However, the real problem is that police patrol for crimes that are invented by the government, i.e. war on drugs). Likewise, if terrorists are likely to be a product of a certain environment, more of your resources would go to screening people of that environment.

clsmooth: Here is what Ayn Rand had to say on the matter:......."medical profiling" and police profiling is obvious, since there are, indeed, genetic differences based on "race," whereas only the collectivist (racist) believes there are moral, social, political, or characterological differences based on "race."

reply: I like Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged is one of my favorite books. But I don't worship her, or take her word to be infallible. Since her time, there have been a lot of discoveries in evolutionary psychology and genetics. But whatever differences there are between races isn't really the issue here (and whatever differences there may be does not imply racism--i.e. that one race is "superior" to another). The issue is of probability. Terrorists that are likely to hijack planes are disproportionally arab muslims.

Suppose I had three people. An 80-year old white woman, an 8 year old hispanic kid, and a 22 year old muslim, who has traveled extensively through the middle east. Given limited resources, you could only examine the luggage of one of those people. Where do you use your resources? Are they all equally likely to be a hijacker? Of-course not. Is it possible that the 80 year old woman is a terrorist. Yes. It is possible that any one of them is a terrorist, but the probabilities are not the same, because most terrorists (the strain of which that adheres to suicide bombings with airplanes at least) are young, arab-muslim men. That doesn't mean that most young, arab-muslim men are terrorists, just that there is a higher probability that terrorists can be found in that group relative to other groups.

clsmooth: How America was founded is indeed apropos -- the subject of the debate includes "profiling is un-American." Now, I chose the parameters of the debate, so if you want to cede this point, I will agree to call it moot.

reply: What my point really was that to say something like "individualism" is "American" or profiling "Un-american" doesn't really make sense because there are several factors going into what made America and how the idea of "individualism" formed. Likewise, I don't care about the "Americanism" of something, but rather, right and wrong.

clsmooth: If such discrimination is wrong, as I believe it to be, then Daxtarian Airlines would pay a penalty in the form of lost market share, revenues, and profits.

Reply: I could make several long-winded arguments for capitalism, but discouraging racism wouldn't be one of them. The problem is that the argument doesn't take into consideration the preferences of the customers. Besides, my jets would have sweet leg room.

clsmooth: Individuals and private groups should be allowed to discriminate at their own expense, but not the government, because it does so at OUR expense -- and "our" includes that segment of the population that is discriminated against!

Reply: It's not discrimination I am against, it is unwarranted discrimination. The government already discriminates in ways no one objects too. The voting age is 18. I'm sure, nay I know so, of several people over the age of 18 who probably aren't mature and responsible enough to be voting. Likewise there are several people under the age of 18 who are probably well informed and responsible enough that they would be good civic leaders. But rules are made on general information--this case being, generally, upon reaching the age of 18 years old, people are developed enough to make their own decisions.

Your car insurance company discriminates. You might have to pay higher insurance because you are a male or drive a red car, because statistically, males or people who drive red cars are more likely to get into wrecks. It is how asymmetrical information is dealt with.

In the case of airport security, it is the same way. We can only search so many people. We don't know everything about everybody, so the odds have to be considered when using our resources. It doesn't mean every muslim gets searched or that everyone else is off the hook, just that the percentages that do are more in line with the percentages of someone being a terrorist.

And it's not arresting people. I'm not arguing for internment camps. When you get on a plane you agree to undergo certain security procedures. And those security procedures will be more effective with profiling. If you are afraid of being profiled or searched, you can drive.

clsmooth: More specifically, the issue is the profiling of Arabs, when the FACT of the matter is that there are radical Muslims of every race (save perhaps American-Indians and Latinos),

Reply: And this proves my point. There is a significant likelihood that if another plane is hijacked, it won't be by American-Indians or Latinos. If we set some quota where American-Indians and Latinos are searched a same percentage as 22-year old arab, muslim males, then obviously some resources are being wasted.

So there are four options: Don't have any airport security in the name of equality, search each group of people equally, search some people more than others, or search everyone in the name of equality, only the third choice makes sense. 1. I think we both agree that there needs to be some type of security screening. 2. Would be wasting resources. 3. Would lead to the most efficient use of resources. 4. Is a physical impossibility.

So, really my argument boils down to that math should be considered if searches must be done.
Debate Round No. 2
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by clsmooth 9 years ago
clsmooth
Why am I against "forced screenings"? Because they go against not only the 4th amendment, but the classical liberal tradition dating back to the f'ing Magna Carta! That's way too much power for government to wield.
Posted by Daxitarian 9 years ago
Daxitarian
Yes, I am positive I am not a socialist.

The gene doesn't exist, but what it was meant to show is the limitations of probability. Probability is always a number between 0 and 1. With profiling, it is always below 1. That's why you can't lock people up on those numbers. It's not just race or culture, but age and gender and other variables play into it too. But the point of the thought experiment was meant to test what would be the appropriate response if the probability could be 1.

And I'm not sure why you would be against forced screenings. It is really no different then quarantining people during a contagious disease outbreak. Leonard Peikoff even says this is a justifiable use of government force.

Ignoring screening wouldn't change the reality of whether you had such gene or not. If anything, I would want to get screened as soon as possible. That would be the only way to try to prevent and treat the condition I had. If reality is to be commanded, it must first be understood. And for it to be understood, it must be engaged, not ignored.
Posted by clsmooth 9 years ago
clsmooth
Such a gene is a racist fantasy and does not and could not exist. Playing along, though, if I had the gene or not, I would resist screening. Under what guise would you allow forced screening? Are you sure you're not a socialist?
Posted by Daxitarian 9 years ago
Daxitarian
1. Using probability to screen some people more than others is not an abridgments of rights. By buying an airline ticket, you agree to undergo certain security procedures. If we want effective procedures, then probability should be taken into account. It doesn't mean only one group of people gets searched, just that the amount that each group is is weighted towards those probabilities. No one is thrown in jail, you are not detained indefinitely without an attorney.

2. Of course we are dumb animals composed of our breeding stock. It's called evolution. Air port screening isn't about locking up people. Just that the screening process would be as much of an effective deterrent as possible. With locking people up, the probabilities are never over 1.

Thought experiment: Suppose a new gene was discovered. It is called the "time bomb" gene, and after a certain period of time, it makes a person go crazy and try to inflict as much harm as possible. If it is discovered that you have this gene, should you be locked up?
Posted by clsmooth 9 years ago
clsmooth
Hmmm, I've never been excused of being "warm and fuzzy." People are individuals. Individuals have genetic differences, and those genetic differences may be determined in part by "race," but this does not diminish the individuality of one's mind or character. You are making assumptions about the character of people based on the collectivist notion that they are nothing more than the sum of their ancestor's genes -- dumb animals composed of their breeding stock. I don't want central planners plugging data into a computer program and determining I fit the "profile" for a particular crime, and then abridging my rights as an individual based on this "data." Where is the line? Why not pre-emptively lock up all the people who fit a certain "profile"?
Posted by Daxitarian 9 years ago
Daxitarian
Also, I don't know of any ethnic cleansing that is based off of genetics. It is always in the name of "We are chosen by god to whip these heathens off the earth."
Posted by Daxitarian 9 years ago
Daxitarian
1. Of all the attacks since 9/11, the attacks have been by the same people. Because all the other groups you talk about are more concerned with fighting Russia or China, or whatever. The just don't have large pools of other people to fight their causes.

2. If you are going to water down the definition of racism as that races may have differences, then I am guilty. But it is not just race that this profiling is based on. Age and gender are other factors too. Just by nature, women are less likely to hijack a plane. So it would make little sense to believe that they are as much suspect as men to do so. Does that mean I am sexist?

Collectivism is the forcing of all people into a single group. It has nothing to do with the fact that people do belong to several groups. As much as you like to say that you are an "individual," you can not deny your genetic ancestry. Some people play in the NBA because they have the genes, others go to Harvard. You have to play the hand you were dealt. You can have all the warm fuzzy feelings you want about how "individual" you are, but what made you today were your genes and your environment.
Posted by clsmooth 9 years ago
clsmooth
Why would terrorists send operatives easily identifiable as Arabs? If anything, Arabs should be considered the least likely. There are Al Qaeda who are black in Sudan, white in Chechnya, Asian from China, or Indian, etc. Why would profiling work? It wouldn't.

Racism is more than just racial superiority. By that token, someone like Jesse Jackson is not racist -- but he is. He is not a black supremacist, but he is obsessed with racial identity, just like your arguments. Perhaps Jesse Jackson's brand of racism is less immoral than David Duke's, but they are both collectivist and deny the humanity of individuals. I don't want to be viewed as someone who is "more likely" to do this or "less likely" to do that based on my genetic ancestry. That is Nazi B.S. I'm an individual.
Posted by Daxitarian 9 years ago
Daxitarian
Yeah, and obviously Rand idealistically thinks that genetics plays no part in who you are. The problem with racism is that it assumes one "race" is the best, when in fact, the best only applies to things that can be quantified. Honda Civic has the best gas milage (can be quantified) Honda Civic is the best car (can not be quantified.)
Posted by Daxitarian 9 years ago
Daxitarian
The private companies undermines you argument about "discrimination" being bad and racist. I was not suggesting that everyone except latinos and native americans be profiled, just that you can come up with probabilities for terrorists being part of a particular group, and that the way to conduct searches for boarding airplanes should acknowledge those numbers. You seem to get caught up in blithely imagining that terrorists are equally likely to be part of any group, and in the process seem to opt for no protection. No one is 100% free from searches to board airplanes.
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