When Racism Is A Refreshing Change Of Pace

« August 2005 »

Memo to the Bush Administration: WHY AREN'T I ANGRIER?

I'm suffering from outrage fatigue, I think. I mean, I know that Bush & Co. have an attitude toward science that rivals Brendan Francis McMahon's attitude toward bunnies. I've gotten the proof of this so many times now it's no longer a shock.

I mean, take global warming (PLEASE). Out of blind greed and loyalty to their oil-cronies, the Administration has repeatedly changed the results of government studies on global warming, and fired, penalized, or discredited any scientists that complain. These are the actions of utter bastards.

Bush and Bill Frist came out in support of "intelligent design", ignoring and debasing science in general, and biology in particular, because they're either insane, or trying to court the votes of the insane. These are the actions of utter bastards.

So when I found out they were using the same tactics in regards to some old-fashioned racism, I should have been angrier. Because these, too, are the actions of complete bastards. But it's a measure of just how complete these bastards are that it almost felt... quaint.

You see, as a matter of policy, the government frequently undertakes scientific studies to prove things we already know. I support this wholeheartedly, even if it leads to people making stupid jokes about scientists studying the obvious.

Since people are fucking idiots, I take anything "everybody knows" with Gibraltar-sized quantities of both sodium and chloride. So while we all know about the "crime" of Driving While Black, an actual government study of racial profiling, with some hard numbers, strikes me as a very good idea.

It struck our government as a good idea, too, so in 2002, the Bureau of Justice Statistics surveyed 80,000 people, and found out, interestingly, that race made very little difference in the frequency of traffic stops. About nine percent across the board - black, Hispanic, or white, got pulled over by law enforcement.

Once you were stopped, however, things changed drastically. Blacks and Hispanics were three to four times more likely to have their cars searched by the cops. More likely to have force used on them. More likely to be threatened with force. And less likely to get off with just a warning.

So it comes time to release the findings, and they prepare a press release. This is how you get stories in newspapers that say "Obesity levels rise". The paper doesn't do the survey. They get a press release about the survey, then get some quotes from the people who did it. Then you read it, and make a stupid joke about scientists studying the obvious. Usually involving just looking out a window. Anyway, that's how you, the public, gets to find out about these things.

So of the two findings I mention above, guess which one came under pressure to be removed from the news release? You get one shot at this.

The director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Lawrence Greenfield, refused to change the release. So no release went out at all. So no news stories got written about fundamental inequalities at street level until four months later, when Greenfield lost his job.

According to Greenfield, he was called on the carpet and asked to resign, then threatened with firing and the loss of some of his pension. Like a really slow, bureaucratic version of Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, he was only six months away from retirement, too. Instead, thanks to government rules, he gets to be demoted and moved to another department.

The administration, of course, denies that any of this was politically motivated, pointing to the release of the study on the Web as proof there was no cover-up. But these are the Bushies. The masters of "if the ref didn't see it, it never happened." The masters of "even if the ref sees it, the fans won't care, so it still never happened." Releasing a study without a news release, and without having to address the results or do anything about them, is BURYING THE FUCKING RESULTS.

Yet another flagrant violation of science and principle. When the research contradicts a core Republican value ("racism"), don't change the value, throw out the research. And get away with it, because you've raised the bar for ignominy so high Satan couldn't clear it with a pair of rocket boots.