Imagine you're an overworked IRS employee, charged with finding, in your massive stack of 501(c)(4) applications, the groups most likely to make electioneering their main focus. Wouldn't it make a little sense to focus on self-proclaimed Tea Party groups? Sure it would. And there's a word for that shortcut, Farhad Manjoo at Slate observes: profiling. By making decisions based on surface details like a group's name, "the IRS was acting like the TSA agent who pulls aside the guy in the turban."
Which is ironic, because the right has long advocated racial profiling, and they've found the moral argument against it "pretty hilarious." But Manjoo thinks the IRS scandal illustrates why profiling is wrong: it's unfair, and ineffective. Many of the Tea Party groups profiled turned out to be aboveboard, and some groups that weren't investigated proved not to be. "This is the Richard Reid scenario: Sometimes, a white guy tries to blow up a plane." Click for the full column. (Read more Farhad Manjoo stories.)