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Bill Bennett and the Black Babies

posted by awelborn

Full-bodied discussion at The Corner, context is everything, it seems.



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dicax

posted September 30, 2005 at 10:40 am


Isn’t it Bennett who changed the context of his remarks on Hannity and Colmes, as he was doing damage control in order to tranform his racist remark into some kind of reasoned argument? Here is what he actually said: “I do know it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.” Somewhat like Richard Nixon, he even tried to recover on air by claiming that this would be a wrong solution.
Amy, in your header about context did you intend to defend Bennett and his remarks?



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Dan

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:29 am


Orson Scott Card wrote an essay just recently about the Freakonomics book… only Card didn’t talk about Blacks, only about poor, single-parents aborting. Card’s article concluded that it was the introduction of The Pill that led to the increase in Crime rates as traditional moral teaching reduced; and it was the legalization of abortion a decade or more after The Pill that resulted in the Crime Rate drop due to poor, single-parents aborting their babies. It was a mistake and, I think, very wrong for Bennett to introduce Race into the mix.



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Christopher Fotos

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:31 am


What Bennett said is true, in the year 2005 and unfortunately for a number of years before now (but it was not always true, and needn’t be). At this time and place young black men commit violent crimes way out of proportion to their numbers.
But what Bennett also said was that aborting black babies would be morally reprehensible. Duh.
Bennett was arguing against a purely utilitarian view of these things. He didn’t do that only on Hannity & Colmes; he did that on his radio show.
Most of the people who will be offended by his remark are those who really want to be.
For a liberal defense of Bennett, try Matt Yglesias



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WRY

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:47 am


So, if young black men commit crimes at a higher rate, how does it follow that killing black *babies* will reduce the crime rate?
Babies commit no crimes, obviously.
Bennett’s remark could be read as suggesting that there is something inherent in being a black baby that predisposes to crime: is it genetics? Predestination? Is it a *given* that black babies will subjected to influences over the next 15 years that will turn them into criminals at a higher rate?
Does race=fate?
To me, this is why the remarks rub wrong. At the same time, I think we have to allow for the impromptu setting of the remarks and consider that we sometimes saythings in indelicate ways and in ways we would not repeat, given the chance. But in that case, we would have to abandon the national sport of “gotcha!”



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Dan

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:59 am


Bennett was answering a caller who was commenting on the book “Freakonomics”. The book contends that crime is down because abortion is up. Bennett replied that abortion is always morally wrong even if some positive statistic can be found that support it. His mistake was bringing race into his answer.



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:16 pm


Bennett merely said something that reflects the ideology of Planned Parenthood. Margaret Sanger was quite open about wanting to reduce birth rates among blacks in order to reduce crime rates in America. Planned Parenthood’s work in promoting abortion in black and latino communities is merely an extension of that racist worldview. Black women are 3 times more likely than white women to have an abortion and a disproportionate percentage of prisoners are black men. People who argue that abortion reduces crime rates are very much aware of these sorts of statistics and are, without daring to do so explicitly, advocating the abortion of black babies in order to reduce the crime rate. This is the sort of world-view that Bennett was criticizing. It is ironic that the very people who support Planned Parenthood’s morally twisted vision of the world are now twisting Bennett’s words in order to make them appear immoral.
Here’s something about Planned Parenthood and african americans: ‘THE NEGRO PROJECT: MARGARET SANGER’S EUGENIC PLAN FOR BLACK AMERICANS’ here:
http://blackgenocide.org/negro.html



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Max

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:16 pm


If the question Mr. Bennett was asked is as Dan described, then here are two possible answers:
1) Abortion is murder, and yet it has been mistakenly legalized. It is the most common surgical “procedure” in America. Therefore the crime rate as recorded by government is not in accord with the actual crime rate. This, I believe, was even acknowledged by one of the authors of the original study which popularized this line of argument, who IIRC said something to the effect that if one believes abortion is murder, the evil it produces is far greater than any positive difference in the crime rate can overcome.
2) This line of thinking is a form of utilitarianism and eugenics that has been with the abortion movement from the beginning, where it had a pronounced component of racism, and it is reprehensible moral reasoning. It’s entirely possible that one could march a squad of storm troopers through certain cities or certain neighborhoods, too, and shoot every fourth person and reduce the crime rate substantially. This, everyone recognizes, would be morally monstrous. Abortion is a hidden way of doing the same thing.
Either answer would have been better than Mr. Bennett’s, I think.



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Zorak the Mantis

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:25 pm


I’m not a big fan of Bill Bennett.
But this is really a tempest in a teapot. In the last 2 years I remember some liberal came out with a study claiming that one reason for the reduction in crime was the abortion of unwanted children, who obviously had not gone on to become criminals. And this was a GOOD THING, and was reported on the MSM as being a bit provocative, but so intriguing and modern.
Now Bennett says the same thing, but that it’s a BAD THING to kill people just because they might become criminals, and suddenly he’s a racist. Tell me there’s no media bias again?
And for those uncomfortable with his remarks, they’re patently true. If you kill ANYONE, they can’t committ crimes. But his point was that is clearly NOT the way to think about these things.
Peace.



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sj

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:26 pm


I think Bennett’s remark was in response to a caller who argued that a reason to oppose abortion was that Social Security would not be in danger of insolvency if those aborted since 1973 had been in the workforce. Bennett cautioned the caller that he didn’t really like “those sort of arguments” and then brought up the Freakonomics argument that crime is down because of legalized abortion. In dismissing the morality of the Freakonomics argument he compared its logic to calling for the abortion of black babies and pointed out how wrong it would be to do so, even though it would work on utilitarian terms according to Bennett, which is the point where it could be said that he committed a gaffe.



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Zhou De-Ming

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:28 pm


If you really want to see crime drop, don’t bother with something that depends on long times (from unborn infant to potential criminal) or tricky socio-statistics linking crime and race.
Do something that is much faster and wide-spread: a viral epidemic.
History demonstrates this.
In October 1918, crime in Chicago dropped 43%.
I think most of the criminals at the time had roots in Italy, not Africa.



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:07 pm


Zhou,
Maybe you shoulr contact Planned Parenthood. They might be interested in your proposal. They’ll have to evacuate their offices in minority communities first.



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Emma

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:25 pm


Dr. Levitt included race in his original thesis back in 1999. The brouhaha that erupted taught him a valuable lesson: say “poor”, “underclass”, etc. which of course makes it factually more accurate, but never ever mention race.
So when he republished his theory in “Freakonomics”, race was whitewashed out.
By the way, his theory is wrong. The drop in crime back in the 90’s was due to a huge drop in the then late 20-year-olds who were born pre-Roe. No, as Charles Murray has just reported, the Underclass has grown and continues to grow as a percentage of our population.



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Emma

posted September 30, 2005 at 3:01 pm


I shouldn’t have said the theory was flat out wrong, as if I have all the answers. I do feel very stongly that it is wrong, though, and hope we’ll get a debate on it.
Bennett keeps alluding to an online debate Dr. Levitt had. His debating partner was Steve Sailer and here is a page that Sailer put together awhile back when “Freakonomics” was released.
http://www.isteve.com/abortion.htm
He also has alot to say on his blog about this affair:
isteve.com



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Henry Dieterich

posted September 30, 2005 at 3:06 pm


In the fall of 1971, I was a sophomore at the University of Michigan, and was taking an introductory biology class for non-science majors, which was a waste of time, mostly. One of our discussion sections turned into a discussion of abortion. I was the only person in the group, including the graduate TA who was leading the section, who was opposed to abortion. This included an African-American woman who contended that abortion would be used as an instrument of genocide against black Americans. She was still in favor of legalizing it. She appeared to be otherwise intelligent, but I never figured that one out.



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Mike Petrik

posted September 30, 2005 at 3:07 pm


I agree with Dan that Bennett’s bringing up race was a mistake, but I think it is only a rhetorical one. I would bet that he brought it up precisely because the concept of raced-based abortion is so odious. It back-fired, of course, because some folks have it in their interest to twist things.



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Pat Gonzalez

posted September 30, 2005 at 3:43 pm


The remark backfired because, quite simply, it was a stupid remark. After reading about Bennett, I’ve come to this conclusion: he’s living proof that any moron can earn a living ranting on talk radio. We have people like that here in Canada too; that’s the reason I use my CD player so much. Also, I’d never heard of Bennett before this, and wish fervently that I will never hear of him again.



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TSO

posted September 30, 2005 at 4:17 pm


I’m not sure which is more boring: Bennett’s comments, which were true but obvious, or the media’s “gotcha game”, which has really gotten stale.



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meteorologist

posted September 30, 2005 at 4:39 pm


Emma,
Thanks for bringing up Sailer’s rebuttal to Levitt’s claims. I think Sailer focuses on the statistics (along with the backdrop of the “crack wars”), but his findings can be paired with George Akerloff’s sociological work. Briefly, the rise of contraception and abortion made it easy for young men to get sex without having to marry, increasing the pool of young unmarried men. Married men must work to support their families; unmarried young men are more likely to be idle. Large groups of idle, young, unmarried men leads to crime. He also explains why this hits the poor disproportionately, but I can’t remember that part.



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ken

posted September 30, 2005 at 7:02 pm


Can statistical numbers be racist?



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Eileen R

posted September 30, 2005 at 7:26 pm


No, Ken, but how you say things can offend. The man didn’t mean it, but it did sound like “Black people are the cause of crime.”



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Jason

posted September 30, 2005 at 7:31 pm


You could abort any baby and reduce crime. It’s one less person capable of committing one. I don’t see how black babies are distinct in this context.
If you aborted every white child, would you not reduce crime? Of course you would. But that has nothing to do with anything.
Even if Bennett did think what he said, why would you say something like that in a public forum? Common sense is the little voice in your head that’s supposed to say, “Hey stupid, I don’t think you wanna say this”.



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jobim

posted September 30, 2005 at 7:34 pm


Facts are not racist, but they are cause for weeping:
“There are today over two million Americans incarcerated in
federal and state prisons and local jails throughout the
United States. More than one-half, or one million, are black
men and women.”
From the website http://www.zmag.org/racismandblam.htm



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dicax

posted September 30, 2005 at 8:58 pm


Well said Jobim. Nothing more need be added. Thank you for the sobering thought.



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HA

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:23 pm


Here is what he actually said: “I do know it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose, …abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.
Assuming this is what he said, then Bennett’s subsequent rendering of what he said is a fair one. It’s pretty clear to me what he was getting at. Amy’s point, about context being everything, is the right one.
It’s not as if he’s aping Margaret Sanger, who was quite open about her enthusiasm for more abortions among the dark-skinned, and the effect that this would have on society in general.



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Donna

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:27 pm


No, Ken, but how you say things can offend.
And, of course, being inoffensive and acceptably PC is the number one rule of American life nowadays.
Basic facts everyone knows: The majority of criminals tend to come from the underclass. Blacks are disportionately represented in the underclass and black males make up a disproportionately high percentage of the prison population.
Now where you go wrong is if you argue that blacks are overrepresented in those categories because they’re innately inferior or prone to violence. That is genuine racism. And Bennett did not say that. You can be black, white, brown or purple and if you grow up in a single-parent household in a culture that glorifies violence and does not value education and work, the odds that you will become a criminal are higher. Unfortunately, the fact is that too many black children are growing up in that culture.
But we have to tiptoe around that. It’s apparently alright in the eyes of the media for the Freakonomics author and others to argue that crime is down because of legalized abortion. He can mention “the underclass” but can never ever use the race word, although pro-abort liberals know full well that the “underclass” is largely black (or nonwhite). It’s O.K. for a liberal yuppie to silently thank the Supreme Court for the blessings of abortion – which now include keeping undesirables off the street – as long as the race of the “undesirables” is never, ever alluded to.
Bennett made the grave error of speaking bluntly. He noted, entirely correctly, that to applaud any role abortion has in lowering crime rates means applauding the death of black babies. And he condemned the notion that aborting children based on race could ever be considered a moral good. Because he dared to mention race – he’s condemned as a racist.
What a nation of mealy-mouthed hypocrites we are becoming.



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fbc

posted September 30, 2005 at 10:39 pm


Thank you, Donna.



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HA

posted September 30, 2005 at 10:59 pm


Bennett could have avoided trouble by instead noting the fact that we could dramatically reduce crime by selectively aborting the vast majority of males regardless of their color. Nobody would have had a problem with that.



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catholic

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:10 pm


“Bennett made the grave error of speaking bluntly. ”
Bennett made the grave error of introducing a racially based argument into a context where race is irrelevant. And he did so in an inflammatory way.
You can apologize for Bennett by saying statistics back him up, but the argument is weak because race does not cause crime. You can apologize for Bennett by talking about the context of his remarks, but that is also weak becuase it ignores the context of his remarks within a society that harbors prejudice and bigotry against blacks.
Understand Bennett all you want. The fact is, his comments gave comfort to racists and so do apologies defending them.



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joe h

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:11 pm


Oh how tired one gets when those on the left who grab part of what someone says and then tries to build some emotional case out of half truth. Try listening to the Bennett show and you will hear a lot of issues discussed in reasonable and reational ways that can open up thought. this is what use to happen in universities before the PC police came in to silence debate.
America suffers when we cannot have honest debate. Example? How about our inability to discuss the possiblity of not rebuilding a city in a hole as New Orleans is today that is located in a dangerous hurricane prone area? No, when the Speaker of the House even mentioned that this should be discussed, he was attacked by the left as uncompassionate. No, it is compassionate to bring people back into a city filled with curruption, spend billions to try and build a very sophisticated levy system that can withstand any type of storm, and rush people back into unsafe areas for the sole purpose of political correctness.



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Bill

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:38 pm


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the statements of Bill Bennett taken in their entirety. If you listen to the MSM and think that what he said is inappropriate or racist you need to go back to college and enroll in a good logic course…if such exists in this day and age. I can’t believe the ignorance expressed in so many of these comments.



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Donna

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:54 pm


You can apologize for Bennett by saying statistics back him up, but the argument is weak because race does not cause crime.
First of all, I didn’t apologize for Bennett, because I don’t think he said anything wrong.
I wrote:
The majority of criminals tend to come from the underclass. Blacks are disportionately represented in the underclass and black males make up a disproportionately high percentage of the prison population.
Now, I know those statements are unpleasant, distasteful, hurtful, blah, blah, blah. Please tell me, catholic, why they are false and why we must not speak of them.
I also wrote:
Now where you go wrong is if you argue that blacks are overrepresented in those categories because they’re innately inferior or prone to violence. That is genuine racism. And Bennett did not say that. You can be black, white, brown or purple and if you grow up in a single-parent household in a culture that glorifies violence and does not value education and work, the odds that you will become a criminal are higher. Unfortunately, the fact is that too many black children are growing up in that culture.
I recall Bill Cosby made the same points, in rather colorful language, and was also castigated for “hurting feelings.” But is it really “compassion” to pretend that serious social pathologies are not at work among the underclass in this country (a underclass which is not limited to, but includes a significant proportion of the black population)?
The fact is, his comments gave comfort to racists
Actually, if Bennett came out in favor of aborting blacks to lower the crime rate, he would have given comfort to racists. But he didn’t, now, did he?



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catholic

posted October 1, 2005 at 3:20 am


Actually, he didn’t have to favor aborting black babies to comfort racists. All he had to do was make a statement which equates racial origin with crime. That he did.



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Samuel J. Howard

posted October 1, 2005 at 4:09 am


“Actually, he didn’t have to favor aborting black babies to comfort racists. All he had to do was make a statement which equates racial origin with crime. That he did.”
Better get on the Bureau of Justice Statistics and Bill Cosby for that comforting racists bit. Maybe we can dig up Senator Moynihan and put him on trial while we’re at it.



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Marion (Mael Muire)

posted October 1, 2005 at 6:55 am


Isn’t it that, when we as Christians speak of human persons of any race, creed or color, we ought to speak of them, not as objects of blame or finger-pointing, but as objects of love?
Many true things could be said about each of us here, individually and collectively . . . and those true things might also be quite hurtful and uncharitable.
It’s not whether the troubling statement is true; it is whether the true statement is made in such a way, at such a time, to such a person(s), and in such a context, that it might actually help those involved to turn their lives around.
Here, it seems to me, Mr. Bennett’s statment most certainly would not fit the bill.



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Jason

posted October 1, 2005 at 7:02 am


Marion,
Well said.



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Mike Petrik

posted October 1, 2005 at 8:54 am


Samuel is right. Bennett did nothing wrong. He was acknowledging a fact — a disturbing fact but a fact nonetheless — that crime in America is disproportionately an African-American male phenomenon. One can address this fact by attacking its sociological root causes or one can simply abort black males. Bennett observed that the latter approach would obviously be morally unacceptable — even if it were effective in reducing crime rates — and for this he is being taken to task.
I am appalled at the profound lack of logic and charity present in some of the foregoing posts.



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Marion (Mael Muire)

posted October 1, 2005 at 10:22 am


Mr. Petrik, a thing said may be characterized as “wrong” in at least two different ways. One way is as to the facts of what is said. Another way is as to the aptness and the suitability of what is said.
One may make a statement wholly true as to the facts, and thus not wrong in that sense, but the factually true statement may yet be unsuitabily made – fatuous, inept, and ill-disposed, and thus, quite “wrong”.



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Victor Morton

posted October 1, 2005 at 11:04 am


But “aptness” and “suitability” are not deteremined by the lowest common denominator, else we might as well just all take vows of perpetual silence right now.
Further, making the taking of offense its own justification and bestowing upon it the (de facto or moral) right to demand silence of someone, even someone stating the truth, is to incentivize it and thus guarantee more of it and eventually strangle public discourse in the swampy fog of Niceness and Sensitivity.



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Mike Petrik

posted October 1, 2005 at 11:20 am


Marion,
The fact that you suggest that Bennett’s comments were fatuous, inept, and ill-disposed does not make them so. You might consider actually making an argument.
I submit that Bennett’s comments were inept only insomuch as he should have known that they would be misused by those with an interest to do so. He was making an important point — that the morality of an action, such as abortion, cannot be reduced to utilitarian concerns, and he deliberately chose an example which everyone would agree is morally repugnant to make his point. The fact that he used a politically incorrect implicit premise in the process does not alter the truth or appropriateness of his point, especially when no one disputes the truth of that premise. The lesson for Bennett is solely one of political correctness.
And finally, your suggestion that that Bennett may not use this implicit premise without changing the subject of his radio discussion in order to address how to alter it is frankly just silly.



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HA

posted October 1, 2005 at 11:46 am


Just to be clear, here is a longer section of the conversation in question.

BENNETT: All right, well, I mean, I just don’t know. I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this, because you don’t know. I mean, it cuts both — you know, one of the arguments in this book Freakonomics that they make is that the declining crime rate, you know, they deal with this hypothesis, that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well —
CALLER: Well, I don’t think that statistic is accurate.
BENNETT: Well, I don’t think it is either, I don’t think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you don’t know. But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.

I realize that highlighting the words “morally reprehensible” — or noting that unlike a prepared document, a live conversation allows for little in the way of self-editing and reflection on how a remark might be perceived by others — will assuage few of those who took offense at this, but I think it worth doing so nonetheless.



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HA

posted October 1, 2005 at 11:50 am


… allows for little in the way of self-editing and reflection on how a remark might be perceived by others
I should have rather said, “how a remark might be perceived, or willfully manipulated by others.



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Donald R. McClarey

posted October 1, 2005 at 12:03 pm


HA thanks for posting the actual text of the call. Bennett, of course, was ridiculing the idea that abortion has reduced crime by taking the argument to an absurd length. This is a totally phony controversy hysterically promoted by the moon bat element of the blogoshpere, ironically since the forces of the Left overwhelmingly embrace abortion as a civil sacrament and often have no problem at all with racism as long as the targets are the “right” people.



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Donald R. McClarey

posted October 1, 2005 at 12:05 pm


Blogosphere, not blogoshpere.



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Donna

posted October 1, 2005 at 12:16 pm


I somehow missed the wailing from the left when Sen. Robert Byrd, a one-time member of the KKK, used the n-word on the floor of the Senate. When (very far left) cartoonist Ted Rall came out with a strip portraying Condi Rice as Prissy from “Gone with the Wind,” he did not hurt his career or standing among his fellow radicals. Liberal concerns over feelings are very selective, I’ve noticed. Bennett’s chief sin is not what he said, it’s his political party.
Again, catholic, tell what is false about these statements:
The majority of criminals tend to come from the underclass. Blacks are disportionately represented in the underclass and black males make up a disproportionately high percentage of the prison population.
False. Not “not nice” or icky or unpleasant.
The absurd reaction to this makes me think of delicate Victorian ladies who went into a swoon because some cad was ill-bred enough to actually say the word “pregnant” aloud in their presence. “Bringing such a thing up in polite company! The nerve! Bring me my smelling salts!”



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HA

posted October 1, 2005 at 1:54 pm


Not to digress, because it doesn’t affect the point being made, but I believe Condi Rice as Prissy from “Gone with the Wind” was actually Christian Science Monitor cartoonist Jeff Danziger. Ted Rall has other things to answer for.



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Eileen R

posted October 1, 2005 at 2:09 pm


Donald, I take offence to being characterized as a “moonbat element of the blogosphere.” It’s obvious from reading the posts across St. Blog’s that there is quite a lot of difference of opinion on the issue, and among conservatives and orthodox Catholics as well.



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Victor Morton

posted October 1, 2005 at 2:23 pm


And to “take offence” is, of course, absolutely and totally, the standard on this topic and all others the ffence-takers choose, isn’t it? … Right?



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Eileen R

posted October 1, 2005 at 2:29 pm


Victor, you’re in favour of name-calling?



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Victor Morton

posted October 1, 2005 at 3:03 pm


If not in favor of offense-takers having an absolute (at least moral) veto over others’ speech, unmoored from any concept of the rationality of their offense-taking.
Yes, Donald was correct that this whole Bennett furor is a showboating exercise in self-righteous irrationality and moralistic stupidity trumped up, directly and indirectly, by the moonbat elements of the political left, the Democrat Party and the black leadership class.



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Donna

posted October 1, 2005 at 3:10 pm


On Levitt’s blog, Steven Sailer made the following point:
Levitt’s original draft paper with John J. Donohue in 1999 specifically referred to the higher rates among blacks of both abortion (which currently is about five times higher than among non-Hispanic whites) and crime (blacks are currently incarcerated at a rate 7.2 times the non-Hispanic white per capita rate) as one of the reasons why legalizing abortion should have cut crime. The New York Times reported in 1999:
“‘Most of the reduction,’ Dr. Levitt and Dr. Donohue write, ‘appears to be attributable to higher rates of abortion by mothers whose children are most likely to be at risk for future crime.’ Teen-agers, unmarried women and black women, for example, have higher rates of abortion, the researchers note, and children born to mothers in these groups are statistically at higher risk for crime in adulthood.”
http://www.wright.edu/~tdung/abortion.htm
Levitt took out the reference to the much higher abortion and crime rates of blacks when he published Freakonomics. Instead, abortion was now supposed to work just by getting rid of “unwanted” fetuses, even though he admitted that legalization vastly increased the number of unwanted fetuses. Following wrote, Levitt and Dubner wrote, Conceptions rose by nearly 30 percent, but births actually fell by 6 percent.
But let’s get real. Last Spring, when Levitt was the toast of American intellectual life, everybody who was proclaiming his wonderfulness knew deep down that his abortion-crime theory was still based in large measure on aborting black fetuses, but nobody would come out and say it.
I was the only one who kept pointing out the new emperor of the bestseller lists had no empirical clothes, but nobody cared, because the unwritten message of Freakonomics — no black, no crime, as Stalin might have said — seemed so convincing.

The reality is that the first cohort of black male teens born after legalization had a homicide rate four times the last cohort born before legalization, but Levitt left out that and all the other inconvenient facts from his book.
To see the abortion and crime data Dr. Levitt doesn’t want you to see, go to http://www.iSteve.com/abortion.htm

This is what bothers me about this whole brouhaha:
1. Levitt, undoubtably remembering the firestorm that greeted the publication of “The Bell Curve” wisely took the racial references out of his book. Nevertheless, as Sailer noted, every pro-abort liberal who applauds the idea that abortions among the underclass reduces crime rates and sees this as another big mark in favor of legalized abortion, knows damn well that a large percentage of those babies are black. Perfectly fine, I guess, as long as you don’t say it aloud.
2. Bennett makes a comment against abortion, and has the gall to point out that race, is in fact, at the heart of the more abortions = lower crime argument, and suddenly he’s the one who is a brute and a racist monster.
The hypocrisy reeks.



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Donald R. McClarey

posted October 1, 2005 at 4:37 pm


“Donald, I take offence to being characterized as a “moonbat element of the blogosphere.”
Eileen, unless you have been helping to promote this absurd controversy, which I don’t believe for a minute, I don’t see how my remark included you. I think it is clear from Bennett’s original comments that he was attacking the argument that abortion has led to a reduction in crime and was also highlighting the absurdity of it. The whole controversy is completely conrived.



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Donald R. McClarey

posted October 1, 2005 at 4:49 pm


I am sure that in some alternate reality, “contrived” is spelled “conrived”.



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catholic

posted October 1, 2005 at 7:04 pm


Donna, Bennett’s statements correlate blackness with criminality. Such a correlation may exist, but is only a bi-product of inequities within our society due to many factors. I am glad you agree that race is NOT a cause of criminality. Bennett’s example of a racial correlation, instead of the social inequities which are the real cause of criminal behavior, injects a racial distinction into a discussion where race is irrelevant and out of context.
Recalling our hostess’s introduction to this subject, context is everything. So, what is the meaning of this out-of-context injection of a racial correlation with crime into a discussion where race is not an issue?



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Donna

posted October 1, 2005 at 8:57 pm


catholic, read my post above with Sailer’s comments. Levitt himself originally made the correlation between race, crime rates and abortion (as the NY Times itself noted), but removed the allusions to race when Freakonomics was published. Bennett’s big sin (besides the ones of having the wrong skin color and belonging to the wrong political party) was to state openly what is known but not said aloud by the pro-abort fans of Levitt’s book.
You know, I think it somehow entirely escapes you that Bennett was making a pro-life statement, that he was saying that aborting black babies is wrong and evil. It simply does not register in your brain, which cannot get past, “Bennett said ‘black’! Racist! Racist! Racist!”
Yes, Donald was correct that this whole Bennett furor is a showboating exercise in self-righteous irrationality and moralistic stupidity trumped up, directly and indirectly, by the moonbat elements of the political left, the Democrat Party and the black leadership class.
Exactly, Victor. It’s why honest talk about race, and the social pathologies of the underclass in this country is impossible in the current climate – because people immediately turn into screaming, finger-pointing 5 year olds. It also ensures that none of those problems will get fixed any time soon.



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catholic

posted October 2, 2005 at 1:05 am


Donna, so it is your contention, that Bennett reinserted some racism that was left out of the published work. And that by inserting the racism he was somehow bringing light to the situation.
I think you are forgetting the context, which our hostess said was so very important. The context had NOTHING to do with race. It matters not one whit that someone else somewhere else may have thought about race when writing the book. The book said nothing about race. The conversation had nothing to do with race. Bennett introduced race.
I don’t care that Bennett was making a pro-life statement. A poorly racist oriented pro-life statement is not helpful. Perhaps you would like a pro-life statement promoted by enemies of the Catholic Church such as: “If you merely aborted all the children of the luke-warm catholics who support abortion, you’d reduce abortion. That would be wrong, of course, and morally reprehensible. But it would work.”



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Mike Petrik

posted October 2, 2005 at 8:15 am


catholic,
I agree that Bennett’s statement was not helpful, but that is precisely because some people jumped at the opportunity to characterize it as “racist,” which it plainly was not. As to whether these people did so because they are wicked or because they are moonbats I remain “agnostic.”



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Mike Petrik

posted October 2, 2005 at 8:33 am


And as to your analogy, I wouldn’t much care one way or another about the statement you describe. But it puzzles me insomuch as it assumes by analogy that Bennett is an enemy of blacks, an assumption that does not in any way logically follow from his statement — note that you had to introduce the proposition that the speaker in your analogy is an enemy of the Church as an independant premise precisely because it does not follow from the statement itself.
And finally, you are missing Donna’s point. It is Bennett’s critics who are attacking his statement on the merits because he was assuming an emperical fact that they claim is racist. However, they have made no effort to suggest his assumption is not true. It just may not be spoken. The irony, of course, is that Bennett was making the point that notwithstanding the fact that American society could eventually reduce its overall crime rate by reducing its African-American population, such a strategy would be immoral. Bennett never suggested that African-Americans committ crimes at higher rates because of some genetic predisposition — a proposition that fairly can be described as racist. In fact, no doubt he believes, like most every thinking American, that this statistical fact is caused by sociological phenomena that we as a society must address.



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ken

posted October 2, 2005 at 5:06 pm


How funny; the call to Bennett’s show was about abortion. Yet, all anyone is talking about is race. How happy the black leadership is talking about racism while ignoring the haulocaust, which they support in principle, taking place in their own communities. Bravo, lets talk about racism and beat-up a conservative in the process, but at all cost let’s not talk about the fact that in New York city there are more aborted black children every year than live black births. Yeah, let’s talk about racism, that’s the important point. If we wait long enough racism can’t be inferred because there won’t be any blacks left.



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James Kabala

posted October 2, 2005 at 8:59 pm


Senator Byrd, FWIW, did not use the n-word on the Senate floor; he used it in an interview, and he did not use the word in reference to black people, but in an incoherent attempt to absolve himself of the charge of racism by claiming that the world was full of “white n—-rs” as well as black. This doesn’t make the comments any less reprehensible, but it’s important to get our facts straight.



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catholic

posted October 2, 2005 at 10:17 pm


As Benjamin Disraeli said: There are three types of lies: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.
Bennett’s statement falls into the third category. One can state a sterile statistical measure and claim it as a truth. But that doesn’t make the interpretation or social use of the statistic true. In this particular case, genocide against blacks is not an effective way to deal with crime, regardless of however well intended Bennett’s hyperbolic rhetoric may have been.



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Mike Petrik

posted October 3, 2005 at 1:10 am


catholic,
You obtuseness is breathtaking. The reason statistics were characterized as lies by the “wise statesman” is not because they aren’t true, but because they are often true but yet belied by a larger principle. Bennett’s very point was that the human condition cannot be reduced to a statistical utilitariansm devoid of larger moral principles. Your statement that racial genocide would not affect crime rates, may make you feel morally superior, but it has nothing to do with truth. Finally, your characterization of Bennett’s remarks as “hyperbolic rhetoric” is, ironically, the perfect illsutration of that phenonenon.



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catholic

posted October 3, 2005 at 4:36 am


Mike,
A statistical anlysis of criminal behavior which treats race as the only independent variable is so flawed as to be useless for the establishment of social policy. Social phenomena are far more complex than can be captured in a simple correlation between race and crime. This holds especially so in our society, which is not blind to race when it comes to social and criminal justice.
It is one of those statistical lies to use such a simplistic correlation to assert the truth that genocide against blacks would lower the crime rate.
Now, what did say? Bennett said: “But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.”
Regardless of Bennett’s repudiation of genocide as immoral, his assertion that genocide would have utilitarian value is one of those lies using statistics.
Now, take his statistical lie and put it back into the context of our racist society, and you should be able to understand why people have a very strong reaction both to his statement and the defenses which reassert that the lie is truth.



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catholic

posted October 3, 2005 at 4:52 am


Mike,
A statistical model of crime which uses race as its only independent variable is so simplistic and flawed that it cannot be used to establish social policy. This is especially so in a society like ours, in which justice (social and legal) is not blind to race. Anyone of modest intellect should be able to see that any accidental correlational between race and crime in our society is due to factors other than race.
The statistical model used by Bennett in his assertion that genocide against blacks would be effective in reducing the crime rate is exactly this kind of flawed model. Because his model is flawed, his conclusion is one of those statistical lies. And make no mistake, he asserted aborting every black baby would be effective. He asserted his statistical lie was true.
Now, take Bennett’s statistical lie and place it into the context of the racist society in which we live. Hopefully, you’ll understand why his lie and the defenses of his lie are interpretted as racist, instead of well-intended lapses of judgement.



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catholic

posted October 3, 2005 at 4:54 am


Sorry for the double post. I seem to have had a browser cache problem which made me think the first post hadn’t taken.



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Mike Petrik

posted October 3, 2005 at 7:07 am


catholic,
Sure, crime is a function of many variables. Indeed, it is likely we don’t remotely understand them all. But this fact in no way undermines Bennett’s statement. For example, economic condition is likely such a variable. Let’s assume that it is in fact the most predictive variable, and let’s assume that black males commit more crimes solely because they are more likely to be impoverished. In this case race has nothing directly to do with crime, but just appears to because of its connection to poverty. Yet, Bennett’s statement is still true. Now Bennett could have made his point by hypothesizing the abortion of the poor, in which case it might have been less vulnerable to being misused by his enemies. But I suspect that Bennett chose race precisely to illustrate something that would be effective (and it *would* regardless of the number of other variables relevant to crime statistics) but would also be plainly morally repugnant — genocide being universally accepted as morally unacceptable.
Finally, you characterize Bennett’s statement as a lie. In this you are just flat out mistaken notwithstanding the presence of multiple independent variables. The only possible justification for calling Bennett’s statement a lie was his use of the word “certainly,” which has little place in the arena of sociology. But to hang your hat on that would itself be a lie, since the bizarre reactions — including your own — to his statement would not have been any different had he said “likely.”



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catholic

posted October 3, 2005 at 6:19 pm


Mike, I realize you think you are correct when you assert that genocide against blacks would be an effective way to reduce the crime rate. I understand you feel it is a statistical truth. The problem is, the statistical model under which you make such a claim is so simplistic and so flawed as to be completely laughable. Unfortunately, the social consequences of your mistake are far from laughable.
I’m glad you recognize there are other variables which may influence crime rates. Poverty, education, employment, etc. are certainly important factors to consider. To get to the root causes of the disparities in these areas, one must search further. One of the most significant reasons for these socio-economic factors is racism.
Besides the socio-economic factors, you should also consider racism in our justice systems. Racial profiling, selective deployment of police forces, selective law enforcement, and selective prosecution all play a part in skewing the black crime rate. These are well documented.
So, the lie of statistics is to use numbers which are significantly influenced by racism in the first place. It is despicable that you and Bennett would assert statistics skewed by racism validate racist policies, even if you do reject the policies on moral grounds.



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don

posted March 29, 2006 at 12:06 pm


Thank goodness we have some people like Mike and Donna around who can see through the fog and present their arguments clearly without being emotional and obtuse.



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