Does one word generally mean the same thing?

ESPN's Colin Cowherd (left) and the lovely Michelle Beadle (right), who hosts "Sportsnation".

I’m not one to espouse my thoughts on the political world very often (it’s already divisive enough for my taste), but something I listened to last Monday caught my attention.  I’m a fan of Colin Cowherd who hosts “The Herd” on ESPN Radio (Weekdays, 9am-noon).  His insights and thoughts about sports are usually “out there” because it goes against conventional wisdom.

He was intrigued by how the term “profiling” was being interpreted with respects to the recent debate over the immigration law that was passed and signed in the state of Arizona.  He posed the question “isn’t ‘profiling’ being used by everyone?”

Cowherd offers examples of how profiling is used by us daily:

-A single guy walks into a bar and see a group of single women hanging around.  Is he “checking them out” or is he “profiling” them to see which woman he’s interested in?

-You’re doing marketing for a company and they need to know what type of customers they need to market to.  Are you conducting surveys and “interviewing” customers or are you “profiling” them to see who is likely to be a fan of that company and their products?

Was Gladys Kravitz snooping, checking out, or "profiling" her neighbor Samantha Stephens on "Bewitched"? Click on the picture to watch an episode of the classic television series!

-A new neighbor moves into the neighborhood.  The neighbor appears to be nice, but something is odd about him or her.  Are you “keeping an eye” on them to see if your suspicion is right, or are you “profiling” them?

A pro football team is scouting a player they are considering drafting.  They are asking questions, doing background checks on a player’s character and behavior.  The last thing they want is to have a potential problem like Pittsburgh has with Ben Roethlisberger.  Is the team doing “due dilligence” or “profiling” to make sure they have a player who will be on his or her best behavior, a la Tim Tebow?

The word profiling isn’t just regulated to race.  It can be used for nearly everything, but we use different words or terms for it.  “Gender” profiling (checking out someone), “customer” profiling (market research), “neighborhood” profiling (snooping), and so on.

It can used for legitimate reasons and for sinister reasons.  It can affirm speculation or cast doubt. Everyone is profiling each other.  It doesn’t matter what you term it as.

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