Friday, July 09, 2010

Original Recipe or Extra Crispy?

I've been wanting to blog about this topic since the matter came up last week with the July 1 "new law day". This little ditty in the WashPost finally gave me the impetus to sound off.

Now, I'm not a Harvard Law prof, but it seems to me that Mr. Kennedy's examples aren't exactly "apples-to-apples."

First of all, he brings up the Crack Conspiracy Theory (which immediately should signal caution) but since he brought it up, let's go with it.

Unless Mr. Kennedy is stooping to use racial profiling (and with that name, I can't see how this is possible) crack-heads don't necessarily have to be African-Americans (haven't we been told that?). No, crack cocaine laws apply to those persons of any color carrying/using/dealing crack, just as powder cocaine laws apply to those felons. The law has to do with "the thing" NOT the person holding the "thing."

More apropos analogies might be, say, a tax on Rap music CDs or skin tattoos, which theoretically (or dare I say stereotypically) were once the provenance of one racial group more than another. Yet even these examples aren't the same as this law because a sizable portion of Rap consumers are indeed Latinos and Whites; and just tune into any NBA game and you'll see that many non-Caucasian players (regrettably) sport "tatts" nowadays.

It would be interesting to know two things:

1) the percentage of tanning booth customers who are "people of color," AND,

2) if the law-writers knew or discussed this statistic while drafting the legislation (even the snarky off-the-record jokes told in the House & Senate cloakrooms).

But since the Tanning Tax's purpose -- in fact, not in effect -- is to single out tanning beds for an excise (or special) Tax, and the means of this extra revenue is derived from people who seek to DARKEN skin color, how can this tax NOT be considered directed at (and therefore primarily disadvantage) one racial group over another?

A tax on Jheri curl, anyone?