Saturday, January 25, 2014

On Proper Discrimination

There is a documentary (shown once in Milwaukee) called Pattern or Practice that alleges racial discrimination by the City of Racine towards minority bar owners. I have not seen the movie but I have over the years commented on the troublesome bars and the plight of their owners.

I don't think City of Racine leaders are discriminating against minority bar owners. Rather, I think they are cowards. Nearly all of us are cowards on the subject of race. Finally I agree with Attorney General Eric Holder on something.

So I will try to be brave. If you were told that I suspect that Japanese eat more sushi that Cubans, that would not be controversial. Or that Californians are more likely to surf than Kansans. The elderly commit fewer violent crimes than teenagers. No problem yet, right? Can we conclude that behaviors can differ in frequency among different races, or ages, or cultures, or races? Not controversial yet, right?

Now suppose we wonder about crime or deviancy and whether people of different races, genders, ages etc... commit crimes at the same rate. Certainly there must be differences, right? If so, what demographic (as opposed to individuals) causes the most problems? Blacks or Asians or Hispanics or whites? Toddlers, teens, young adults, or the elderly? Men or women? I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that men commit more crimes than women and that teens and young adults commit more crimes than toddlers and the elderly. But what about the race question? Better not go there, right? Better to pretend that there can't possibly be some that cause more problems than others, or risk banishment from polite society.

I will limit my racial observations to the particular issue at hand. And my observation is that the late night congregating of large crowds after bars - in parking lots or on the street - in Racine anyway, is a young black thing. There, I said it.

Congregations are not of course necessarily a bad thing. But when they are loud or if they are blocking traffic or if violence erupts, well, then we have a public health hazard and something should be done.

But alas we are cowards and in one sense racially discriminatory. We hold unruly black people to a lower standard. We coddle them. I think the police even call it babysitting. And instead of confronting the behavior of the individuals in the crowds, we more or less allow it to happen. And then they go after the license of the "offending" bar owner, hoping that will put an end to the crowds. And indeed it does for a time until the problem crowd moves on to another location.

I don't think the city has a particular axe to grind against minority bar owners. A little thought experiment. Imagine a black entrepreneur running a polka bar for elderly white folks. Would his license be at risk? How about a white guy running a hip hop bar where patrons spill on to the street and defy police instructions to disperse. Would his license be at risk? If you answered no and yes respectively, you would be right, and you would disprove the "racism towards minority bar owner" theory.

The problem could be solved if we first identify it correctly, as I believe I have done. Then we decide what behaviors we will not tolerate among people after bar time and we crack down on the behaviors no matter the race of the offender.

Replace the racial discrimination (lower standards of behavior for blacks) with behavioral discrimination.

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