Discrimination : the good and the bad

Who pays the higher motor insurance premium, an 18-year old male riding a 1000cc superbike or a 45-year old female driving a Toyota Corolla?

Who pays a higher life assurance premium, a 55-year old white male with a heart condition or an 18-year old black soccer player?

You need to replace a light bulb. Do you ask a 7-foot basketball player or a 5-foot granny with a bad back and a fear of heights?

You need to unscrew a shelf from a wall. Do you use a screwdriver or a butter knife?

You’re walking down the road holding your cell phone. Are you likely to hold it more tightly if approached by a young black male wearing a hoodie or an old white gentleman taking his dog for a walk?

What do all of the above demonstrate? I’ll tell you what. Discrimination. We make choices every minute of every day based on information available to us at that time. Discrimination is defined as, “The ability or power to see or make fine distinctions; discernment.”

Is this a bad thing? Should I be punished? Of course not, it’s human nature. In fact every living organism practices discrimination. Animals avoid certain plants because of a tell-tale smell or colour. Moss grows on the shady side of a tree. They are all making choices.

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Now making a choice based on information that is designed to reduce risk is good, but making the same decision based on prejudice or heresay or rumour is bad because it has no substance.

But without information, what then? Then we still have to make choices, but they are sometimes not that accurate, because our information is not that good.

Which brings me to Crime Statistics. We have an Access to Information Act in South Africa (Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000), which has as it’s objective;

To give effect to the constitutional right of access to any information held by the State and any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

Now I would consider my right to safety and security to be pretty high on the list of rights, and without accurate crime statistics I don’t believe that I can make accurate decisions to protect my family. Furthermore, I believe that without accurate information at my fingertips, I am going to, in some cases, unfairly discriminate against certain racial and age groups. Is this my fault? Am I an ageist or racist? Of course not. It’s the States fault. They haven’t provided me with the information I need to make good decisions.

Without this accurate information I list below what I consider to be the age and racial profile most associated with the following crimes in South Africa ;

Murder, black male, 18 – 35.

Rape, black male, 16-35.

Fraud, white male, 35-45

Tax Evasion, white male, 35-45

Possession of soft drugs, coloured male, 16-35

Possession of hard drugs, white male, 25-35

Hijacking, black male, 25-35

Armed Robbery, black male, 25-35

Non-payment of alimony, coloured male, 18-35

With this information in hand, I believe that we as a Nation can at least start addressing the crime problem, but with the State, tightly clutching this information to their chest, we firstly cannot defend ourselves, and secondly will probably make some inaccurate assumptions. Why would they keep this vital information from us? I’ll tell you why, because it is embarrassing to them and their voters.

Quotation of the day;

Criminal. A person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation.

Howard Scott (1926 – )

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One Response

  1. Three years ago one of my neighbours packed up her family along with her bags and moved back to her parents in Natal. This after experiencing three breakins in quick succession.

    It was also enough to get me started. Crime is not a tangible thing that any of us can put our finger on and say this is what we have to do. Its a result of decades of social mismanagement and the first thing we have to accept that its going to take even longer to bleed the poison out of the system.

    What I started with is a word that gets used and abused with gay abandon and one that is universally misunderstood. As far as I am concerned our security starts and stops with our ability to empower and motivate a community.

    That said I started looking for ways to take your average school leaver and turn them into a revenue earner using the internet to open up and address a global maket. Its a huge challenge not so much in terms of the mechanics involved but more so in terms of the potential it offers.

    Its something that can be done. And all it needs is enough of us to srart pulling in the same direction.

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