Thursday, December 15, 2011

Video Response to Intelligence Squared's debate on "Should Airports Use Racial and Religious Profiling?"

To view the podcast I'm discussing you can view the debate here.

My thoughts on Intelligence Squared's debate on the motion "Should We Use Racial Profiling?" More specifically, should we profile based on religion and/or race when screening people at airports or other security checkpoints. Would doing so just force those we are trying to catch to change their approach? This seems like a weak argument since criminals are always trying to be two steps ahead of those they are trying to victimize.


This emotionally driven argument stems from the concern of obtrusive and/or abuse on those innocent of any crimes which is a legitimate concern but obtrusions and abuses will result regardless of the policy. The issue of "profiling" or "stereotyping" always arises from this concern but we fail to balance this with asking "why do profiles or stereotypes exist?" More often than not, it is not an issue of bias but statistics. We are statistical machines (albeit, poor ones) but we subconsciously make biases based on experiences and over time develop a statistical probability and associate a corelation. In this case, we are discussing Muslims. The perpetrators of most of the terrorist attacks have been Muslims with a distinctive "look" i.e. All male between ages 18-40 with an Eastern dissent. It seems foolish to limit ourselves from this "intuition" of further examination of these suspects.


We must however balance this with rationale and not extend our security policies to abuse everyone equally nor overly inhibit the freedoms of those not accused of any crime.  This however is for another debate how on effective our security policies even are. 

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