Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Avoiding Crime is Racist Now

GPS devices that steer you away from high-crime areas are racist!

This is one of those situations where the person protesting against racism is making allegations that would prompt accusations of racism were they repeated, word for word, by someone else. An app that steers away from high crime areas? That's going to hurt a lot of minority businesses! 'High crime' and 'minority concentration' are tightly correlated!

The quotes from the article are pretty fun.

Wallace spent her afternoon at a rally on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and said she felt safe there, but fears the app may project otherwise.

“Can you imagine me not being able to go to MLK Blvd. because my GPS says that’s a dangerous crime area? I can’t even imagine that,” she said.

I really have to wonder if this was tongue in cheek. Is Wallace a Chris Rock fan? Because the man had something interesting to say about MLK Blvd.

“It may have a high crime problem but have some great cultural, social things you can do there,” McNally said.

Wonderful. Who cares? I'm imagining the mental calculus she's promoting when she says something like this.

"I'm thinking of going to King street tonight. Let me weigh the positives: it has some real nice bars. Oh, also you can take a tour of one of the first Coca-Cola bottling plants in the country, that's some fine cultural heritage. Downside: tourists are getting stabbed and raped with disturbing frequency. NNNGGGHHH tough call. Stabbing and rape, bottling plant, stabbing and rape, bottling plant..."

I suspect there's some of the following logic going on: well, these areas are pretty crappy, but one way to improve them and start accruing funds to improve them is to generate business in the area. If people are more aware of the problems and thus more people avoid the areas, it's counterproductive to our plans. In the long-term we want to reduce the crime and improve the area, but in the short term that plan rather hinges on getting people to come to a dangerous area. Therefore, we should discourage accurate information about the crime problems here.

I think the better alternative is to allow people to have access to as accurate information as possible, and let them decide for themselves whether they want to frequent high crime areas in order to help out the local economy.

No comments: