A racial profiling footnote

The New Jersey Turnpike gave rise to much of the “driving while black” controversy of the 1990’s. That particular controversy was resolved by state authorities entering into a 1999 consent decree selling out law enforcement. Sentence first, verdict afterwards, as the Queen says in Alice in Wonderland. The verdict came too late to do any good, and it was kept under wraps when it arrived, but Heather Mac Donald blew the whistle on the whole production when she got hold of a serious study of driving patterns on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The whole regime of “disparities” is premised on the simple falsehood that the various racial groups championed by the race industry behave identically to whites and Asians. It ain’t necessarily so. The traffic stops fiasco is a sort of reductio ad absurdum. In a 2002 New York Post column Mac Donald wrote about the study that disclosed the unspeakable truth:

According to the study commissioned by the New Jersey Attorney General (and leaked to The New York Times), blacks make up 16 percent of the drivers on the turnpike, and 25 percent of the speeders in the 65-mph zones, where profiling complaints are most common.

They speed twice as much as whites, and speed at reckless levels even more. Yet blacks are stopped less than their speeding behavior would predict — 23 percent of all stops.

The devastation wrought by this study to the anti-police agenda is catastrophic. It turns out that the police stop blacks more for speeding because they speed more. Race has nothing to do with it….

The elegant study, designed by the Public Service Research Institute in Maryland, had taken photos with high-speed cameras and a radar gun of nearly 40,000 drivers on the turnpike. The researchers then showed the photos to a team of three evaluators, who (with no idea which drivers had been speeding) identified the driver’s race. The photos were then correlated with speeds.

The driver identifications are not reliable! whined Justice. So the researchers reran their analysis, using only photos about which all three evaluators had agreed. The ratios came out identically to before.

The data are incomplete! shouted Justice next. A third of the photos had been unreadable, due to windshield glare that interfered with the camera, or the driver’s seating position. Aha! said the feds. Those unused photos would change your results! It’s a strained argument. They could change the results only if windshield glare or obstructive seating disproportionately affected one racial group. Clearly, they do not.

The institute has proposed a solution to the impasse: Let us submit the study to a peer-reviewed journal or a neutral body like the National Academy of Sciences. If a panel of our scientific peers determines the research to be sound, release the study.

No go, says the Justice Department. That study ain’t seeing the light of day.

And so it goes.