The police are heavily deployed in certain neighborhoods because that’s where incidents like Sunday’s shooting occur. Toddlers and recreational basketball players are not getting shot in the West Village; if they were, the police would be making stops there as well. Once in a high-crime area, the police use every tool they have to send the message that law and order remains in effect. Had the ordinary means of social control—above all, the family—not broken down in those neighborhoods, the police would not need to look out for and intervene in suspicious behavior. If communities don’t control their teenagers, however, the police will have to. And until mothers and fathers start socializing their children so that shooting someone no longer seems a normal response to a dispute, the choice will remain stark: put up with a higher level of stops (which, of course, should be conducted lawfully and respectfully) or with a higher level of shootings. There is, to date, no middle ground.In fairness to Mac Donald, she doesn't at all mention Friday's Aurora shootings, and probably wrote the piece before the massacre happened.
And yet, there's something telling here.
When gun violence occurs in the inner city--among African Americans--our concerns for Constitutional rights are not as vigorous as they might be. Stop and frisk? It's the only way to preserve safety. It should be done legally of course, but is there anybody who sees the word "legally" here without ironic italics? It's almost always profiling, with almost no real cause to stop, and everybody knows it.
Move that violence to less urban, whiter enclaves--where it's perhaps less frequent but often much more spectacular--and First Principles are asserted with a vengeance. Yes, a dozen people are dead, but Founding Fathers! Second Amendment! Right of Self Defense! And politicians, wary of messing with the NRA, back down.
We are, in short, very willing to infringe on other folks' freedoms in response to gun violence. I somehow doubt we'll be profiling brilliant white loners anytime soon.