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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Who Am I?

Profile me. I dare you.

In theory, you should be able to do this. There are lots of clues. My words mysteriously appear here every week. I adopt a sort-of know-it-all attitude - perhaps I do know it all. I seem to enjoy reading obscure legal opinions. And, of course, I exhibit great wisdom.

So what am I?

An eight-year-old girl prone to temper tantrums?

A bed-ridden 90-year-old with a bladder problem?

Am I obsessively tidy or a drunken slob? Do I drink fine wines or do I do all my work on a laptop at McDonald's? Am I a charming studmuffin or just smelly?

Do I meticulously outline and plan every word of these finely crafted columns or am I just typing the first things that come into my mind at random?

This challenge occurred to me the other day after two things happened. First, the Los Angeles Police Department announced that it was going to start "mapping" Muslim neighborhoods so that it could identify possible terrorists.

In case you missed it, yes, this did cause a bit of a stir. It sounded an awful lot like profiling. When people immediately pointed this out, we started hearing from LAPD spokespeople that, maybe, "mapping" wasn't quite the right word. What they really meant is they wanted to reach out to Muslims with social services and make sure they weren't isolated.


There's nothing like a police presence to make you feel welcome in the community.

But let's not be cynical here.[1] I'm sure the primary goal of the police force is to make sure everyone feels loved. Still, if you're going to integrate, say, Timothy McVeigh and Cho Seung-Hui into the community to prevent them from murderous rampages, you just might want to extend your mapping.

Maybe mapping guys who can't get prom dates would be a tad more useful.

Now on to the second item that caught my attention: a piece in the Nov. 12 New Yorker about the wonders of profiling.

If you haven't read the article, consider this a spoiler warning - it has a surprise ending.

Unlike what they teach you in uptight journalism schools, the author of this piece made no attempt to give you the actual news/information at the beginning. In fact, if you only read the first third of it, you'll think profiling is an amazing and precise science.

It's toward the end that you're told that the successful profiles were nothing more than vague and lucky guesses and most profiles are about as useful as consulting the skies or eeny meeny miny moe.

If only those professional FBI profilers were trying to distribute social services, maybe they'd do better.

The piece doesn't explain why profiling is so impossible, but I have a theory: CRIMINALS AND TERRORISTS DON'T WANT TO BE IDENTIFIED!

Leaving clues to your identity is a bad idea for the successful serial evildoer. And you don't get to the "serial" part unless you're successful and unidentified.

Don't believe me?

Here I am - a successful serial column writer. What do you think you know about me?

There are lots of clues. I seem to think a lot of myself, but is that just a cover-up for insecurity?

I have an unhealthy fascination for rulings describing unusually lengthy police investigations of massage parlors and strip clubs. Does that make me a male or a pole dancer?

I have an uncanny knack for predicting future legal developments. Does that make me super-intelligent or some sort of god?

Let me know. Anyone who actually does know me is disqualified from this exercise.

[1] You may think cynicism is my job, but it's not. I deal in reality.

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