Friday, April 30, 2010

Well that didn't take long

Just days after passing their bigoted racial profiling law, members of the Arizona legislature have passed several amendments to it.

One change removes the word "solely" from the provision stating that "The attorney general or county attorney shall not investigate complaints that are based solely on race, color or national origin." Another replaces "lawful contact" with "lawful stop, detention or arrest."

Note well that these changes are supposed to deal with problems with the bill that its proponents insisted never existed in the first place. So now it's "there never were any problems with this bill and besides, we fixed them." I'm not impressed.

That's because this - of course - does nothing about the basic problem with the bill, which is that it positively invites racial profiling. Both the original provision and the changed one supposedly dealing with that are just window dressing - unless, that is, you can cite me all the times cops said "I stopped them because they were black/Latino/whatever." There's always another reason, a different reason, claimed. It may be completely bogus, but it will satisfy the fearful and the bigoted.

Moreover, as if to prove the point, the legislature - which apparently just can't help itself - passed another amendment intended to make it clear that a "police contact" over accusations of violation of local civil ordinances can lead to questioning about immigration status. So someone complains your yard is overgrown or has too many weeds and the cops can come a-calling, demanding to see your birth certificate. Yeah, sure, that provision won't be abused.

The same basic problem exists: Until the legislature can do what the governor and most police departments admit they themselves can't, which is to define what constitutes "reasonable suspicion" and explain how you can just tell someone may well be an undocumented immigrant in a way that makes no reference to "race, color or national origin" and so could apply equally well to a white Irish guy in Boston as to a Latino guy in Tucson, the law will remain what it has been from the start: a bigoted blast from people who are terrified of the fact that their world is changing color and like King Canute* are trying to hold back the tide.

*Actually, it's now generally agreed that Canute staged the demonstration to prove that he could not hold back the tide, to remind his courtiers and assorted sycophants that no person can command nature.

Footnote: This business has provided another example of what is wrong with public polling and how poll results must be used carefully. The notable recent one, of course, was with health care when polls reported on people who opposed the bill without asking them why - which meant that those (such as me) who opposed it because it wasn't good enough got lumped with the corporation-bootlickers who wanted no change at all.

Well, according to a Gallup poll from the end of April, Americans who have heard about the Arizona bill favor it by a margin of 51-39 percent. (Sidebar relating to a different sort of complaint: The headline says "most" of us support the bill. Now, 51% may be a majority, but no way is it "most.") But in reading the actual results, it turns out that people were asked how much they had heard about that law, but not what they had heard. Lacking that information, the results are utterly meaningless and may reflect more Hannity-esque crap than actual information.

1 comment:

Dr Kathy health forum said...

I am drinking green tea and read the post,enjoy!

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');