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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bill Bennet Answers Genocide Charges

Statement By Bill Bennett, Sep. 30, 2005
From the Desk of William J. Bennett September 30, 2005

"On Wednesday, a caller to my radio show proposed the idea that one good argument for the pro-life position would be that if we didn't have abortions, Social Security would be solvent. I stated my doubts about such a thesis, as well as my opposition to such a form of argument (the audio of the call is available at my Website: bennettmornings.com).

"I then stated that such extrapolations of this argument can cut both ways, and cited the current bestseller, Freakonomics, which discusses the authors' thesis that abortion reduces crime.

"Then, putting my philosophy professor's hat on, I went on to reveal the limitations of such arguments by showing the absurdity in another such argument, along the same lines. I entertained what law school professors call 'the Socratic method' and what I would hope good social science professors still use in their seminars. In so doing, I suggested a hypothetical analogy while at the same time saying the proposition I was using about blacks and abortion was 'impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible,' just to ensure those who would have any doubt about what they were hearing, or for those who tuned in to the middle of the conversation.

"The issues of crime and race have been on many people's minds, and tongues, for the past month or so--in light of the situation in New Orleans; and the issues of race, crime, and abortion are well aired and ventilated in articles, the academy, the think tank community, and public policy. Indeed the whole issue of crime and race is not new in social science, nor popular literature. One of the authors of Freakonomics, himself, had an extended exchange on the discussion of these issues on the Internet some years back--which was also much debated in the think tank community in Washington.

"A thought experiment about public policy, on national radio, should not have received the condemnations it has. Anyone paying attention to this debate should be offended by those who have selectively quoted me, distorted my meaning, and taken out of context the dialogue I engaged in this week. Such distortions from 'leaders' of organizations and parties is a disgrace not only to the organizations and institutions they serve, but to the First Amendment.

"In sum, let me reiterate what I had hoped my long career had already established: that I renounce all forms of bigotry--and that my record in trying to provide opportunities for, as well as save the lives of, minorities in this country stands up just fine."

Sample Objections


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UPDATE: Sorry for the bad link earlier. Fixed.

9 Comments:

Blogger Anna said...

In this world of PC overload, he could have said purple polka- dotted babies and someone would have been offended. They heard "abortion" (which, let's think about this, liberals are FOR), and "black babies" and he is labeled a racist.

October 01, 2005 11:53 PM  
Anonymous Molloy said...

[Link still doesn't work]

Anna,

Liberals are not by any means "for" abortions. We simply believe that the government is prevented by the Constitution from keeping women from -- or punishing women for -- having them.

Everyone wants to see the number of abortions decrease. We liberals want to do it by lowering the amount of unwanted pregnancies. The best way to go about this is through widely available, free, and effective birth control, and public sex education classes that actually work -- i.e. "abstinence plus" as opposed to "abstinence only" curriculum.

When the right opposes these sensible measures, it appears to many liberals (but not me) that it is conservatives who are actually "for" abortions, albeit unsafe, criminal ones, since women who do get pregnant and seek an abortion are going to find one, the law be damned. If many of these women benefitted from things like the "morning after pill" (which merely prevents ovulation, yet is inexplicably opposed by the right) they wouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place.

I don't know what your position on birth control or sex ed. is, but we liberals find it difficult to take seriously anyone who is opposed to sensible measures for lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies but is also opposed to legal abortion.

As for Bill Bennet -- the self-appointed expert on virtue who gambled away $8 million -- I don't think it was a call for genocide, just kind of a stupid and insensitive thing to say, which is making a lot of people wonder why the heck he's such a frequent guest on news show round-tables.

Later,

Molloy

October 02, 2005 7:36 PM  
Blogger Daniel Christianson said...

Now, what I'm confused about is what people are offended about, exactly. Regardless of how un-pc, and therefore foolishly, the comment was stated, it is a well-documented fact that crime rates are disproportionate among the African American community (I'll look up the facts again if you really want but I've done it before-trust me). Furthermore, he was using that position as a known evil and comparing it to another position to demonstrate logical flaws in that argument. The Romans used to call the technique “arguing onto insanity.”

Now, that does NOT mean that there is something inherently inferior about the black race (certainly poverty and broken homes have a great impact), but that is not what Bennet said. What he said is that aborting every black baby would lower crime rates, and that is, statistically, true. So essentially, liberals are either reacting emotionally and objecting to the truth, or they are taking advantage of an opportunity to sully a prominent conservative’s character.

October 02, 2005 9:58 PM  
Blogger Daniel Christianson said...

P.S.: Molloy, what link doesn't work? Your name?

October 02, 2005 9:58 PM  
Anonymous Molloy said...

No, the link in your original post. It just goes to a page at Daily Kos that says, "Sorry, I can't seem to find that story." Or at least that's what happens when I click on it.

Yes, it is true, that statistically crime rates are disproportionate among the African American community (due to poverty and all that -- not to mention the disproportionate attention from law enforcement officers that their law-breaking receives).

It's just, considering that the fiction that blacks are genetically pre-disposed to commit crimes has been instrumental in white supremacist rhetoric for a really long time, it was very foolish for Mr. Bennet to say anything even resembling that. I'm just appalled that anyone can be so clueless.

When speaking from such a high perch, it's important to consider your words in the context of history and what they might mean to most people.

Since we're linking to the site of the dreaded liberal maniac Kos, I think this post from Armando is worth reading:

http://dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/30/211839/331

(Speaking of the link of my name, you can't click it because someone already set up a blogger profile with it. Darn. I should probably choose another name that isn't taken.)

October 02, 2005 11:10 PM  
Anonymous Molloy said...

I just thought of something: what if some prominent liberal pundit noted that aborting all white babies would reduce the white collar crime rate? It's totally true, but can you imagine the reaction from the right? I don't think it would be very kind, but maybe my idea of how the right would react is different from yours. I imagine, though, there would be a lot of twisting of the person's words into a call for genocide, because, you know, we liberals just LOVE to abort.

And it's not as if the high frequency of white involvement in white collar crimes has been exactly used to oppress white people for hundreds of years. Also, you know, Bennet's example is pretty lame, because aborting every black baby would entail aborting black females, as well, and I kind of doubt that black women commit crimes at anywhere near the rate as white males, though I am too busy to look it up right now. When he says "every black baby" that does kind of make it seem like he's drawing a link to genetics and crime.

October 02, 2005 11:48 PM  
Blogger Daniel Christianson said...

So, if all this adds up to is a faux pas, an unwise word from decades of living in the public spotlight, then why must the left react so vehemently? Why must some liberals actually call him a racist?

October 07, 2005 11:41 PM  
Anonymous Molloy said...

OK, so why must some liberals actually call him a racist? Well, to many people, Bennet implied a genetic link between black skin and criminal behavior. I am not one of those people, because I have chosen to give him the benefit of the doubt. If I were black, however, I would most likely not be so kind.

As for proving Bennet's racism, his statement is circumstantial evidence. It's not bad circumstantial evidence, but it's not hard evidence. He has some room to wiggle out of this one.

I think a lot of Bennet's critics (who are not just liberals, by the way, as his remarks were also condemned by the White House and the Senate in a vote of 98-0) were just creeped out that he went so quickly to the blacks = crime example, which sounds eerily similar to things said by bonafide racists.

As a prominent pundit, Bennet's speech should be held to a higher standard than yours or mine, and I think that's what's going on here. People oppossed to any racism in the national news media are doing just that.

Something I thought of the other day is it's interesting that Bennet's defenders, who believe that a war, a few thousand lives, and a few hundred billion dollars, can quickly turn a country that has never experienced representative government into a model deomcracy in a short period of time, but the next generation of black people will invariably grow up to be criminals. What's up with that?

October 11, 2005 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Molloy said...

"inevitably" grow up to be criminals, I mean.

October 11, 2005 4:57 PM  

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