Blogger Danny (whose great blog Danny’s Corner I highly recommend) asked his readers to consider the following scenarios and share their thoughts:
1. You park your car and get out to go inside a mall. As you look up from locking and closing your door you see an Native American man walk by who makes direct eye contact with you. You double check to make sure your car door is locked.
2. Walking down the street one night you see a Jewish man coming from the opposite direction. Just before making contact you suddenly cross the street.
3. Waiting for an elevator you see that no one else is around…except for the Mexican man that comes from around the corner. You hope that he is not also looking to take the elevator.
This is what I responded:
As long as the three behaviors you listed are matters of personal choice and do not move to the realm of social policy, I see no problem with them. If I have, say, a completely irrational dislike of people in red hats and don’t want to take the elevator with them, that’s my right. Now, if I became governor and started legislating on the basis of my personal irrational fears, that would be wrong. But my right to suspect anybody of anything on any basis and not get into elevators with absolutely anybody I choose is inalienable.
I have a feeling that Danny wants to talk about the different ways in which we construct gender as opposed to race. That is an important discussion and I urge everybody to contribute to it on Danny’s blog. I, however, want to talk about the specific scenarios Danny listed, so I brought them here.
We all profile in our daily existences. I would never invite a person who has a loud laugh or a voice I find unpleasant into my house. I’m autistic, loud laughter drives me up a wall. If said person with a laughter doesn’t want to have autistics in her house, I recognize her right to do so, and would not mind not being invited. I also make efforts to avoid the company of my compatriots. I know I will not have a good time around them, so I try to stay away from their gatherings. When I was single, I refused to meet blond men. I don’t find blond men attractive, which is why I never even considered them as a possibility.
Of course, if anybody tried to transform these very personal idiosyncrasies into collective policy, I would be the first one to protest.
So what do you, folks, think about these 3 scenarios and the issue of profiling?