Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 9 17:46:12 UTC 2011

To me, "profiling" (or "ethnic profiling" as it was originally called for
about fifteen minutes) is a relatively methodical process (the potential
perp has X, Y, and Z characteristics, etc., etc., that we got lectured on at
the station house, etc., etc.). In other words, some representative of
officialdom does it.

However, in coverage of the current case of two imams who were removed from
an airliner by the pilot simply for being dressed like imams, CNN explained
that there's investigation into whether the pair "were the victims of
profiling based on appearance."

Not to quibble, but in my mind it would have been "profiling" if the airline
had pulled the men off the plane on the basis of some sort of ambiguous
evidence. But in fact, airline security had cleared them to board and
re-cleared them after the pilot had single-handedly booted them off.
The only rational justification I can imagine for their removal would be if
the imams, perhaps, had been chuckling on board about blowing up the plane
with their undetectable explosives. But there seems to have been no
justification, and only the pilot seems to have been worried about them.
(Unlike the cabin attendants and the people in the next seats, for ex.)

So what it all means is that in future Inglish, "profiling" will probably
come to mean nothing more than "negative stereotyping."  (E.g., "You must
never profile kids from foreign lands or who dress differently or whose
sexual orientation some day may not be to Mommy's liking, little Josh.")

If it doesn't happen, I'll apologize in the 22d century.

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society -

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