Stone on Race and Reason

Race and Reason
Geoffrey R. Stone
The Huffington Post
July 26, 2009

There's been a lot of chatter lately about the need for "honest" public discussion of race and law enforcement. Unfortunately, we've heard a lot more clamor for "honest" discourse than we've heard honest discourse. Perhaps a frank discussion of the complex relationship between rational judgment and racial prejudice can serve as a step in that direction.

Suppose the police receive a 911 call reporting that two men are attempting to force entry into a home. There are two obvious possibilities. First, the men may be lawfully gaining entry through a stuck door. Second, the men may be unlawfully breaking and entering. In approaching a home where such a burglary might be in progress, should it matter at all to the police officer whether the caller identified the men as black or white? Ideally, of course, the answer is "no." But is that rational?