San Francisco’s CAREN Act Misses the Point
The New York Times reports, “The San Francisco board of supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation aimed at cracking down on frivolous calls to 911 against people of color, a move that will make it the latest city to enact an ordinance against racist calls to the police.”
The Times also quotes Shamann Walton, a Democrat, who introduced the legislation, “We wanted to put something in place that’s going to stop these racist, prejudiced calls that weaponize police against Black people and people of color.”
The legislation is unwittingly named the CAREN Act, or Caution Against Racial and Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, and naturally evokes the Karen meme.
But, San Francisco’s well intentioned the CAREN Act has problems. In both principle and application, the CAREN Act misunderstands Karen-ism and the inability to prove racially-motivated frivolous misuse of police resources.
A Karen, (I’m partial for using Todd as male equivalent) is someone who not only knows all the rules, but demands everyone follow them exactly. Karen and Todd are the people who take their HOA agreements a little too seriously and break out their rulers to make sure your lawn is not a millimeter over specifications or who want a speed limit radar station to catch people going 26 in a 25 zone. They are the people who generally hate it when people put up their Christmas lights too early or complain they are too bright. They threaten to call CPS when children play outdoors without a helicopter parents. They generally just fun of any kind.
What the left has done, however, and what San Francisco is doing here is turning these self-appointed guardians of the law and making it racial. In doing so they have obscured a problem they mostly created.
Examples of racial Karen-ism that the left likes to cite include a white woman calling the police on a black 8-year old for selling water without a permit and this specific example is from San Francisco.
For the left, this is an example of racial bias in America. But, who supports rules like this? Republicans aren’t exactly popular in San Francisco nor does requiring an 8-year old to acquire a permit to sell water align with fiscally conservative or libertarian ideology.
But, it is consistent with liberal or progressive ideology that says more regulations are necessary for public safety. By making Karen-ism racial, the leftists in city government have avoided the fundamental contradiction of their beliefs.
On one hand, the more rules and regulations (in other words, laws) the city has, the safer and better it will be, but also there is a police-community relations problem common through out the country. This problem is exacerbated by white people calling the police on black people for trivial offenses or even non-offenses. Again, these are not economic libertarians calling the police about violations of libertarian-inspired laws.
Then there is the more practical question. How exactly does San Francisco plan to differentiate between frivolous calls and racially-motivated frivolous calls?
If the alleged racist claims that race had nothing to do and the race differences are just a coincidence, how does one counter that? Mind reading? Who is the mind reader, some left-wing professor of racial studies who thinks everything is about race? The problem with the idea of implicit bias is that it’s unprovable and it’s supports set up a Kafka trap — It’s implicit, so of course you would deny it — and therefore junk science.
By making a distinction between frivolous calls and racist frivolous calls on Karen-ism it makes it seem like Karen-ism is okay so long as the victim is white. Which is, of course, ridiculous. San Francisco may have thought they were battling Karen-ism, but by ignoring the real definition of the meme and why she has power, they may make it worse by shifting the conversation elsewhere.