Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stop Stop and Frisk

Want to end stop-and-frisk overnight, via massive public decree? Make them stop and frisk white people.

That's it. Do it on the Upper East Side and in Tribeca. Howls of piqued umbrage will fill the canyons of Manhattan, demonstrations will be staged, media will rage, heads will role, and the entire policy will be gone within one week.

I understand that "what if he was white" is a cliche of racial indignation. I realize it's often used to over-simplify nuanced situations. I'm not a big fan of the rhetorical device. But in this case, the switch would, beyond the shadow of a doubt, turn the situation topsy turvy.

If a cop arbitrarily and impolitely ran his hands over the body and through the belongings of a friend or coworker of mine without just cause, I'd be nearly ready to kill someone over it. I've always been uncomfortable with stop-and-frisk as a policy, but it's always been a distant issue. Bring it front and center for me, and there's no freaking way I wouldn't do everything in my power to see it reversed. Same for you, too, I'll bet.

Update: in this editorial, Mayor Bloomberg lays out the good intentions and indisputable data behind the program (and, for that matter, why the flipped perspective would, indeed, be strictly rhetorical). I don't think it's reasonable to accuse Bloomberg or Kelly of insincerity - i.e. using their line of argument to cloak a sinister agenda of racial suppression. But my point stands: this isn't something you or I would tolerate, even if it made our lives safer. It's a step too far.

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