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Could Technology Create Modern-Day 'Leper Colonies'? 452

theodp writes "Back in the day, leprosy patients were stigmatized and shunned, quarantined from society in Leper Colonies. Those days may be long gone, but are our mapping, GPS, and social media technologies in effect helping to create modern-day 'Leper Colonies'? The recently-shuttered (born again as Good Part of Town) generated cries of racism by inviting users to rate neighborhoods based on 'which parts of town are safe and which ones are ghetto, or unsafe'. Calling enough already with the avoid-the-ghetto apps, The Atlantic Cities' Emily Badger writes, "this idea toes a touchy line between a utilitarian application of open data and a sly wink toward people who just want to steer clear of 'those kinds of neighborhoods.'" The USPTO has already awarded avoid-crime-ridden-neighborhoods-like-the-plague patents to tech giants Microsoft, IBM, and Google. So, when it comes to navigational apps, where's the line between utility and racism? 'As mobile devices get smarter and more ubiquitous,' writes Svati Kirsten Narula, 'it is tempting to let technology make more and more decisions for us. But doing so will require us to sacrifice one of our favorite assumptions: that these tools are inherently logical and neutral...the motivations driving the algorithms may not match the motivations of those algorithms' users.' Indeed, the Google patent for Storing and Providing Routes proposes to 'remove streets from recommended directions if uploaded route information indicates that travelers seem to avoid the street.' Even faster routes that 'traverse one or more high crime areas,' Google reasons, 'may be less appealing to most travelers'."
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Could Technology Create Modern-Day 'Leper Colonies'?

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  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:23PM (#44784681)

    i've lived in NYC since the early 80's and if you were white you were dumb to go to the south bronx or harlem. especially at night. if your kid passes the gifted and talented test to get into accelerated kindergarten, the crappy schools will have spots open in their G&T classes because parents don't want their kids going there

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      i've lived in NYC since the early 80's and if you were white you were dumb to go to the south bronx or harlem. especially at night.

      I would like to point out that in any place that is poverty-stricken, not blending in is a big problem. A black guy wandering around a trailer park will attract just as much trouble from the people that live there. Race by itself isn't what causes this, it's the larger issue of tribalism. For example, if you're wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of skittles and wandering through a gated community... you're also in it in a bad way. People need to be aware of their surroundings and know when they're not 'par

      • I would like to point out that in any place that is poverty-stricken, not blending in is a big problem.

        . . . um, any place in the world . . . or just in certain parts of the US . . . ?

        I've been to some poverty-stricken parts of the world, where this has not been a problem.

        Although, in the poverty-stricken parts of the US, the kids tend to be wearing $300 sneakers. In some rural parts of Turkey, the men wear traditional pants, which have crotches down around their ankles. That is some kind of mildly amusing comparison, for some reason.

      • by stenvar ( 2789879 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:49PM (#44785551)

        if you're wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of skittles and wandering through a gated community... you're also in it in a bad way

        Only if you start attacking the residents of that community when they ask you what you're doing there. If you're polite and deferential, you'll be fine, whether you're black or white.

    • by kbg ( 241421 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @03:59PM (#44785229)

      I have never understood how some areas can be so high crime that a white person walking late at night is 100% sure to get in trouble and the police can't do anything about it. The police can just have a white undercover agent walk at night and have a team stand by to arrest those that make trouble, rinse repeat until problem goes away. Perhaps I just don't understand the problem because I have never lived in a country with high crime.

      • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:04PM (#44785247)

        That would be admitting that there's a problem, which seems to frequently be interpreted as racism. People need to get over the race thing and realize that there is a problem, but it's cultural rather than racial. Cultures can change, but people have to want to change them.

      • by Fjandr ( 66656 )

        Said cop would stick out like a sore thumb, and not of the variety that's simply "this is obviously not you neighborhood." He'd stick out in the manner of "this is obviously a setup by the cops."

  • Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So how is this actually racism again?

    In other news, companies simultaneously invent app than can predict areas of low income!

    This is pure human nature. We try to isolate ourselves from anything that could negatively impact our standard of living, thereby reinforcing the things
    that could cause it in the first place.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spiked_Three ( 626260 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @03:05PM (#44784921)
      Yeah, that's what I was thinking.

      It only racist when someone assumes there is a race factor associated with being a ghetto.

      I've lived in Washington DC, and East Tennessee, Seattle - I've seen ghettos composed of every race there is.

      So what does being a ghetto have to do with being racist?
      • The people most likely to use this app are also those most nervous about crime, real and _imagined_.

        If I was running it, I'd install user categorization. Classify the uses taste in neighborhoods and only report data from similar users, perhaps based on home zip code and local demographics. No benefit in cross reporting hipsters and suburban nervous mothers. They will both hate the others neighborhood.

        I picked my neighborhood in large part because the lots are very large, no HOA and my neighbors like to

      • The UK police site ( offers a facility to view the crimes in a neighbourhood. It's got nothing to do with race - just what's happening on the streets. And that appears to be the purpose of these apps; the fact that the commentariat immediately assumes it's got a racial component is a sign of how deeply pathological the American liberal establishment is. Remember: the definition of a conservative is a liberal who's just been mugged. One's almost inclined to suggest that one might want to see a
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:27PM (#44784705)

    have a higher crime rate and higher risk of $badthing, am I being racist against green people? I don't think so. Maybe when I'm in the good side of town, I see a green person and I greet them normally. I don't hate green people, I just am going to stay out of the part of town where most of them live because I don't want to risk $badthings happening.

    Now, if I hate all green people and think they're a lower form of life because of $badthings that happen, then yes I'm being racist. But the distinction between the two cannot be legislated or governed.

    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Saturday September 07, 2013 @03:33PM (#44785087)

      If all the neighborhoods where green people live.. have a higher crime rate and higher risk of $badthing, am I being racist against green people? I don't think so.

      The first point is that racists seldom believe that they're being racist. Because that would be irrational and they all have very rational (to them) reasons for believing whatever they believe.

      The second point is that you would be basing your opinion upon a visual characteristic when the real reason might be something you cannot see. Such as economics. Bad neighborhoods have low property values. So poor people live in bad neighborhoods. Not because they're bad people but because that is what they can afford.

      Maybe when I'm in the good side of town, I see a green person and I greet them normally.

      Maybe. But if you're aware that you're greeting him "normally" then you're probably a racist.

      When I see an old Chinese woman walking her poodle on the street I treat her the same as I would any other person who was not ...

      • by RightwingNutjob ( 1302813 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:20PM (#44785325)
        Being able to tell the difference between human beings and ghetto trash (of any race and income level) is a vital skill. The difference between calling it racism and calling it street smarts is determined by some linear combination of malice, ignorance, and desire to troll.
        • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:38PM (#44785455)

          Being able to tell the difference between human beings and ghetto trash (of any race and income level) is a vital skill.

          Rather it is an example of "confirmation bias".

          You can tell the false negatives - the people you thought were "good" turn out to be "bad".

          But you have no way to verify the false positives - the people you thought were "bad" are really "good". So you do not believe there were false positives.

          The result being that the number of "bad" category characteristics keeps increasing. But each one has a clear example that you can cite. Therefore, it is completely rational. And anyone who does not agree is being irrational (opposing that which is rational).

          • This is true, and it cuts both ways: people are naturally apt to be risk-averse, but you can't really blame them for that and shouldn't try to dissuade them from looking out for themselves, their families, and their stuff; it's a natural instinct. Hence, the ghetto-tracking apps.
      • Poodles are vicious, subhuman creatures and must be kept inside, fenced in, caged, or when brought into public, leashed. Sometimes they even have outrageous hair styles that go completely against what nature intended! - HEX
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If all the neighborhoods where green people live have a higher crime rate and higher risk of $badthing, am I being racist against green people? [...] I don't hate green people

      If you do nothing about it, yes. Racism is not always an irrational reprehension against green people, it's usually a very utilitarian response to risk and asymmetrical information. If green people have more thieves and crooks among them, it's rational to watch your pockets around them and avoid their services. Not because all greens are crooks, but because by buying from whites reduces your risks.

      Being green is a signal you are forced to send regardless of how good your skills are and how honest you are.

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:28PM (#44784717)

    There are rough neighborhoods and bars in white neighborhoods that I would not expect women to go near at night in good cities.

    Facts are facts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:29PM (#44784721)

    race have to do with crime-ridden neighborhoods?

    What the fuck /. ? Your summary is more racist than the technology you're referring to. Well done.

  • I'm not sorry. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xenkar ( 580240 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:32PM (#44784731)

    I value my safety over the feelings of others. Label it however you want, it is better than ending up dead, brain dead, maimed for life, or having my eye sockets reconstructed with titanium plates.

  • PC at its best (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MPAB ( 1074440 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:33PM (#44784737)

    I once asked in several forums about the neighborhoods of a city I was going to move into with my family. I didn't want to fall into bohemian neighborhoods (want rest at night, not party) or ghettos just because I didn't know the place. The answers were all about racism, how beautiful and diverse those places were, how much of a lousy father I was for denying my children such enriching experiences, etc.
    I resorted to look around for external signs, such as crowded balconies, abandoned cars, how people dressed, etc.

    I think I have the same right to be informed when I look for somewhere to live than when shopping around for stuff that suits my needs as precisely as possible.

    • Re:PC at its best (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:35PM (#44784761)

      The answers were all about racism, how beautiful and diverse those places were

      To get a real answer from those people, ask them what area of town they live in as it will usually be quite nice compared to where they are directing you to.

      • Would be useful if you could get an honest answer. Those people lie like rugs.

      • Re:PC at its best (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cervesaebraciator ( 2352888 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:03PM (#44785245)

        Generally true, but not always. Young, single, childless bohemian types sometimes do, in fact, choose to live lower rent neighborhoods and disdain those who do not do likewise. Priorities tend to change once one settles down, marries, has kids, and actually wants to own a little property.

        Lesson: don't take advice about where to live from those who've less to lose than you.

    • Re:PC at its best (Score:4, Interesting)

      by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:58PM (#44785963)

      That's when it's time to lie, lie, and lie again because getting what you want is what matters, not humoring anonymous shitbags on the internet.

      For example, make up some psych excuse about a family member needing a very quiet neighborhood because they are under treatment for agoraphobia. Look for crime reports, and ask on forums where people won't defend toxic areas because the forum members don't give a shit about PC.

      Don't be shy about where you look for info. If I wanted a quiet neighborhood, I would have no compunction about asking on the Stormfront forums! My security and my comfort and my property values are what matter to me.

      It's every man or woman for themselves, and if you land in some shithole because you were lied to no one who lied to you will be there to help. While White Flight was an economic disaster for the Detroit tax base, it was pure unadulterated flawless win for the people who Got The Fuck Out as fast as they could. None of them could have changed anything by staying.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:33PM (#44784743)

    How is bypassing neighborhoods with a high crime rate "racism", unless you yourself are saying high crime areas ALWAYS have people of a certain race...

    There are criminals of every race. The desire to reduce the probability of crime is not a matter of race, but of common sense.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Liberals show their racist ideology by making an automatic leap to race.

      There are places in Boston where the thugs are quite Irish and white.

    • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:58PM (#44784895) Homepage Journal

      How is bypassing neighborhoods with a high crime rate "racism", unless you yourself are saying high crime areas ALWAYS have people of a certain race...

      Of course they don't. Take a look at Paris. The bad ones are full of arabs and the terrible ones are full of blacks.

      If you go to Brussels it's completely the other way round.

      • How is bypassing neighborhoods with a high crime rate "racism", unless you yourself are saying high crime areas ALWAYS have people of a certain race...

        Of course they don't. Take a look at Paris. The bad ones are full of arabs and the terrible ones are full of blacks.

        If you go to Brussels it's completely the other way round.

        Or, go to Shanghai, where the bad ones are full of Chinese and the terrible ones are full of Chinese.

        Guess what? you find them in the great areas too....

        (I know, that takes it a bit far, but using Paris as an example made me laugh -- half the city is made up of first or second generation French, with a large portion coming from Algeria and Portugal)

    • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @03:02PM (#44784915) Homepage Journal

      When the bypass is based on actual crime stats, it is not racist at all.

      The problem is when it is based on perceived safety and that perception is based on how many people of (race you don't like) can be seen.

    • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @03:08PM (#44784943)

      Probably because the metrics are based on input from users (who are probably simply flagging any of the *them* neighborhoods) and not any rational data. You have to live a pretty sheltered life to think you're going to drive through any neighborhood and get dragged out of your car and robbed. I'm not saying it never happens, but the odds are damned low. I went to a city college in a "bad" KC neighborhood and the crime stats were really low. And, that's for kids walking around, living, and working there, not just driving through.

      Maybe there are *bad* neighborhoods where this information is relevant, but my guess is the percentage of these neighborhoods is low enough to obviate an app like this. If you're staying out of dark alleyways populated by shadowy figures at 2am, you're probably safe on just about any street. If you take a look at crime maps for your city, the results are usually pretty surprising.

      • by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @03:15PM (#44784991)

        I don't know about Kansas City, but in the Baltimore/Washington area, there are very definitely places where crime is a constant threat -- not just in a "boogeyman" sort of way, but in a "both my housemate and my officemate have been robbed at gunpoint and I had a crackhead constantly breaking my car windows to smoke crack in there" sort of way.

      • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:18PM (#44785321)

        You have to live a pretty sheltered life to think you're going to drive through any neighborhood and get dragged out of your car and robbed.

        On 4th year at the university, I got a place in a student dormitory in a bad part of the city. I lasted only ten days there, and got attacked seven times. For comparison, I've never been attacked elsewhere during my university times, and got attacked a total of three times elsewhere during my whole adult life.

        I don't look out of ordinary, don't wear strange clothes, etc. I'm white and so is almost everyone around here (Poland). Now, guess what would happen if a black person walked through that neighbourhood.

        It's not a matter of race, it's a case of tribalism. Race is just a convenient way to tell outsiders, if it's not a factor those oh-so-nice fellow humans will find a different reason to bash your face in.

      • The people that will use this app will flag any neighborhood inside the belt freeways as 'bad and dangerous'. The data will be useless.

        I grew up in that KC neighborhood, assuming I'm right about which college, it's got a strong gradient. East of Prospect there are some real hairy blocks. The projects just east of the Nelson Art Gallery are hairy as fuck. Hooker park aka Gillham park (so named for all the dead hookers found there) is also a boundary. Troost Ave is a hooker stroll north of 47th. Cops playi

      • For real. If it's based on user input you're going to get a lot of bad information. I lived near 87th and Blue Ridge in Raytown for a while and a bunch of the (upper-middle class, white) people I worked with gave me crap for living in "the ghetto." It was a solid neighborhood, though, just working class and black. Everyone I met was super nice and I never saw anything shady.

        I'm curious where you lived in KC. A lot of KC is pretty bad, particularly at night. I would stop at the gas station on Emmanue
      • I notice this on apartment review sites all the time. Several places I've lived have reviews talking about how the people look dangerous and it doesn't feel safe, and in forum threads where people ask about where to move people advise to stay away from those neighborhoods to stay safe. This is probably because they're the poorest neighborhoods in the area and it's easy to see outward signs of poverty (note race isn't a factor here). Actual crime maps I've looked up have showed them to be very safe neighborh
    • The difference between 'avoiding a neighborhood' and 'leper colony' is huge, they are almost the opposite, as I understand it.

      The main point of a leper colony is to keep people in it, quarantine them. No one is trying to keep anyone in a bad neighborhood. If they move to a different place, no one will care.
    • How is bypassing neighborhoods with a high crime rate "racism", unless you yourself are saying high crime areas ALWAYS have people of a certain race...

      If the app was about high crime rates, you'd have a point. But it wasn't. It rated neighborhoods based on self reported subjective beliefs from both residents and non residents of the neighborhood.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:33PM (#44784747)

    So now it's wrong, and even RACIST, to mitigate the risk of my family becoming victims by avoiding areas that have exceptionally high rates of crime?

    Being wrong and allegedly racist never felt so good.

  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stenvar ( 2789879 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:35PM (#44784767)

    I don't get why people are upset about this. If a neighborhood is crime ridden, people avoid it; why shouldn't they? High crime has lots of other negative consequences (outmigration, plummeting real estate values, decrease in tax base, etc.).

    I don't see what this has to do with racism. If crime is higher in a neighborhood composed of some racial minority, that's incidental; people don't avoid it because of its racial makeup, they avoid it because of crime, and the correlation with race has other causes.

    Furthermore, racial minorities have no reason to live in ghettos these days; if they do, it's by choice or inertia.

  • by dentin ( 2175 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:50PM (#44784863) Homepage

    If there is actual utility, then by pretty much by definition it's not racist. It's simply a statement of how things are.

    How things got that way may be associated with racist problems, and racism concerns might be raised regarding how to change something, but to call the app itself racist is just stupid. Then again, a lot of how the US handles race issues is just stupid, so I suppose that's not unexpected.

  • by edcheevy ( 1160545 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:51PM (#44784869)

    As an analyst, to me it's a question of data cleanliness. Yes, people should be able to look at the facts (i.e., crime rate) and route around a higher risk area if they so choose. Trouble is, there's a partial racial component driving those crime statistics (i.e., minorities more likely to be arrested) which probably inflates the "true" crime rates for those neighborhoods. If people are going to get all bent out of shape, they should do so up-stream. Tackle the issues that inject a racial element to crime statistics and leave the people looking for an objective measure of risk assessment alone - they're only using the best available data to make a decision.

    Easier said than done of course...

  • Soon, the only good neighborhood will be the orbiting city. The entire surface of the planet will be one big ghetto.
    • I find that movie quite hilarious for it's naivety and childishness. However, if the way things have been going is anything to go by, it may very well end up being a prophetic movie.

      The affluent and/or "stay-out-of-trouble" citizens keep retreating away from these bad areas. They avoid the risk and dangers that are inherent in certain neighbourhoods. To call it racist just because a certain minority happens to be the only group that stays/moves in to that neighbourhood is pretty disengenuous. Currently,
    • by isorox ( 205688 )

      Soon, the only good neighborhood will be the orbiting city. The entire surface of the planet will be one big ghetto.

      There are only 2 counties capable of putting someone in orbit, so I assume this city will have vodka and fortune cookies?

      • The U.S can orbit stuff, they just don't have a vehicle approved for use to orbit people right now. 2015 or 2016 timeframe, that will be fixed -- there should be commercial options care of SpaceX and Boeing (NASA will not get Constellation or SLS or whatever they call it done, due to budgetary constraints that will eventually kill it. Again.)

        But if you follow the money... the Chinese and Russians have the funds and the political willpower so they will be there too.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:57PM (#44784891)

    The word is just used too often, for too many things, that it is ceasing to have any meaning for me, besides "somebody doesn't like something".

    This is "racist", that is "racist", the next thing is "racist", he's a "racist", she's a "racist", my car won't start because it's "racist", my program has a memory leak because it's "racist" . . . on, and on, and on . . .

    It seems to me to be the hobgoblin of tiny little minds, who can't think of anything else better to say, when they've run out of all other arguments.

    For me, now, it is akin to telling someone Jewish that they're cheap, someone German that they're evil because of the Nazis, someone Italian that they're in the Mafia, someone Spanish to leave those poor bulls alone, someone French that they're military cowards, etc, etc, etc . . .

    Calling someone or something "racist" . . . is in fact as about as "racist" as you can get these days.

    • ... my car won't start because it's "racist",...

      Only if it's got a white paint job. If it's painted black, brown, or red, it won't start because it's participating in an act of civil disobedience.

  • by XcepticZP ( 1331217 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @03:03PM (#44784919)
    This article, and the topic reminds me of a quote by Thomas Sowell: "The word 'racism' is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything - and demanding evidence makes you a 'racist.'"

    I find it quite a fair bit telling that the majority of posts currently visible on this article are written by AC's. Even completely non-racist and innocuous posts. To me, that says a lot.

    And like another poster below mentioned. Why are people getting so uppity, when the app and it's users are just trying to make the best possible decisions for their own livelihood based on the best/only available data on the matter. If anything, such data would probably be less likely to be racist as it removes peoples' biases and interpretations (assuming the data isn't tainted by the stats, but then you're just opening up a can of worms).
  • headline should read,

    Could Humans Use New Technology Create Modern-Day 'Leper Colonies'?

    I love these will a new tech affect human society? fun stuff...

    But it is an engineering and cultural geography question...not a purely sociological or psychological concept...

    Here's what I mean:

    Engineering: when new tech is developed, the next problem is getting people to use it. "The last mile" so to speak. It's often a question of scale as well, handling 10^8 users on a system. The internet itself is

  • by bargainsale ( 1038112 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @03:23PM (#44785037)
    Given that TFA is only using leprosy as a metaphor, I suppose this is, strictly, off-topic.

    But I have to say, in the many countries where leprosy hasn't gone away, there are still plenty of very real, non-metaphorical leper colonies. I know because I'm an eye surgeon who used to work in Africa, and I've been involved in outreach trips to operate on cataracts in leper colonies. If we hadn't arranged the trips, the people would have had no chance of getting their sight back. Nobody much cares about them.

    Find another bloody metaphor.
  • Take an existing societal problem.
    Add technology to it.
    Write an article about it as if totally new.

    As if this hasn't been happening forever and a day. Roman citizens were telling each other "That one area downstream from where the Cloaca Maxima empties into the Tiber is really bad.". When a diplomat came to Rome, I'm sure they'd ask the locals where a good place to put a house was.

    The "technology": Word of mouth. And if you really wanted to be fancy, writing.

  • I think it is a distinct possibility. If you were for example to canvas a few acres of land with trampolines and bouncy castles you could construct a colony of people with impressive abilities to leap.

    Reintegrating leapers from the colony back into non leaper towns could prove quite disruptive proposition for all concerned. Townsfolk may object to lack of toy stores to keep stocks of trampolines or the increased price associated with sudden demand spike. Townsfolk may also not appreciate right of ways be

  • It doesn't matter whether you are discriminating on non-racial criteria. If such discrimination has a "disparate impact []" on a racial basis, it is racist.
    • Disparate impact has no relevance to this situation, as it is not employment-related.
      • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) *
        Disparate impact is a general principle that is not limited to employment. It is an operational definition of racism.
        • Disparate impact is a general principle that is not limited to employment. It is an operational definition of racism.

          It may be your operational definition of racism, but if it is, you're stupid. The standard definition of racism is:

          Racism is usually defined as views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that members of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, infer

        • You cannot take the legal doctrine of disparate impact and apply it carte blanche to every other aspect of human relations. It is not a general principle, and should not be misused as such. To claim otherwise is entirely novel and requires far more than a bare assertion of its new definition.
    • Why don't you read it:

      The doctrine prohibits employers "from using a facially neutral employment practice that has an unjustified adverse impact on members of a protected class.

      In this case, the impact is most certainly justified.

      Furthermore, just because that's currently a legal standard for employment doesn't mean that it is morally right, that it is justified, or that it is beneficial to the people it is intended to help.

      And most importantly, it doesn't apply to anything other than employment.

  • Nothing racist about avoiding crime-plagued areas. Now, if the app was avoiding black middle-class areas, would be entirely different, but that's not what's happening here.
  • GhettoTracker [] is still up and running, and I scrolled over to Detroit and see lots of colored circles. Additionally they are still tweeting [] about this situation. They took the site down and now it's back up.

    @msmarypryor [] My designer will be touching up the logo for sure. You realize we just launched Monday, and this all happened and we were not

    — Ghetto Tracker (@GhettoTracker) September 7, 2013 []

    @msmarypryor [] prepared for this as it was still in beta. This has been quite an experience...

    — Ghetto

  • It's worth pointing out that the analogy made in the headline doesn't indict the practice. "Leper colonies" were a rational and reasonable public health precaution at a time where no treatment was available and no epidemiological data was available. The reason we don't have them anymore in the West is simply that patients are isolated in hospitals until they have been adequately treated and become non-infectious. "Leper colonies" probably also didn't just house leprosy patients, but also people with more hi

  • by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:25PM (#44785761)

    It's not racism to avoid someone, and it's not racism to choose someone else. It's only racism if what you're doing hurts, stifles, or restricts the freedoms of someone. I can choose not to buy that house, or not to take those streets, or not to patron that restaurant. It's not racist. It's me having a preference.

    So if I don't like greeks, and hence don't want to pay greek owners of a greek restaurant, I don't eat there, and it's not racist. If I picket the restaurant and stop others from going there and ask my political representative to tear down that restaurant, then that's racism.

    Greeks have the right to not be hindered by my preferences. They don't have any right to my money. See the difference?

    (Incidentally, I love greek food, and recently found two fantastically greek-family restaurants in Oshawa and in Whitby.)

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Sunday September 08, 2013 @01:13AM (#44787861)

    If I say "avoid crime ridden areas" I am not saying "avoid these races"... That crime ridden areas and given races happen to correlate is a coincidence and not actually something that people are intentionally trying to avoid.

    The tendency to label things as racist has really gotten out of control. I think my favorite example of this was a greeting card from Hallmark that had an astronomy theme. It was a verbal greeting card that talked. And part of its little rant included references to "black holes" which is an astronomy term with no racial meaning. Regardless, the NAACP claimed that the cards really said "black hoe"... they didn't... and the NAACP also found the term "black hole" to be inherently racist which of course it isn't.

    But this sort of thing happens because we give as a society these advocacy groups license to redefine what racism means to include pretty much anything including very innocent behavior.

    If I am in a bad neighborhood is it racist to avoid packs of young men? Not really. What if they're also of some touchy minority race that like to turn everything into a civil rights issue? Doesn't matter. You're not avoiding them because of their race. You're avoiding them because its a pack of young men in a bad neighborhood.

    People really need to learn the difference between causal and correlative statistics. Simply because you can show various variables correlating doesn't mean a given variable causes the other variable. Often there are third or fourth variables which themselves caused BOTH or even more correlative variables to all move in the same direction.

    For example, why is it that certain races have bad neighborhoods? Does the literal color of their skin cause their crime to be higher? Unlikely. So there are other issues which ACTUALLY cause the crime. NOT the race.

    Address those issues and the crime will statistically reduce to national norms. And what's more, once it gets known that the crime has gone down and people are statistically as safe... then suddenly people won't be so inclined to avoid those areas.

    It has NOTHING to do with race and is therefore not a racial issue. Race is at most a correlative variable that is otherwise irrelevant to the situation.

  • by Gryle ( 933382 ) on Sunday September 08, 2013 @12:50PM (#44790645)
    A few years ago, I spent about 9 months working a fairly rural section of Missouri.* I'm white and my supervisor was a very dark-skinned black man. We got to talking about fishing and I casually suggested a few fishing spots in the more remote areas. My supervisor very calmly looked at me and said "You're white. You can go anywhere you like around here. I'm a black man in Missouri. There are just certain places I don't go for my own safety."

    If these kinds of app provide data on racially-motivate crimes (anyone out there who uses them to shed more light on this?) it would go a long way to helping minorities avoid areas where they might find themselves in trouble with the law by virtue of not being white. It also might give them a better sense of security going into areas they might not normally frequent.

    *The town I worked in had a population of about 4500 and I lived 30 minutes up the road in town of 1500. There was a college town of about 20,000 about 30 minutes east by highway. From the town I worked in it was 2 hours in either direction to a major population center.

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.