Posted by Peter W. Schramm
Peter Lawler adds a few good words on Bill Bennetts modest proposal.
Babies ARE good. Personally, I like them broiled.
Heres the crucial line of what Bennett said. (Yes, Im "taking it out of context," but I believe it can be readily analyzed on its own; feel free to attach the surrounding context, but I believe it will make no difference to the point Im making):
"But I do know that its 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."
Lawler says "But a reasonable person can still get what [Bennett] meant: the crime rate would eventually go to zero if the number of babies (black, white, and all the colors in between) were to go to zero." Perhaps, but if indeed thats what Bennett meant, then why did he say "every black baby"? Bennett injected race into the equation and discussion when neither the caller to his show, nor the authors of Freakonomics (in their abortion & crime theory, at least) did. He could have said "white," "Asian," or simply "every baby in this country," but he did not. It goes without saying that if we aborted any racial or ethnic category of baby we would also reduce the crime rate.
I dont take the position that Bennett endorsed, or even proposed, that all black babies should be aborted. I do believe that he apparently considers blacks to be an unusually criminal race, and comments such as the one he made make that fairly clear. Fortunately, he did at least say that such a policy would be reprehensible, but after we remove the "abortion is wrong" element, we are still left with the "Blacks are the problem with crime" aspect. Bennett is treading a fine line between the polite, respectable right and its ugly brother, where talk such as his, a small intellectual seed for eugenics and genocide, is encouraged to be put into action. I found Lawlers defense of Bennett to be weak, and missing the big point - why did Bennett insert the word "black"?
I think we can all agree that blacks commit a proportionately larger amount of crimes in this country than other races. We can have a discussion about why that is and, for the record, I believe it has nothing to do with a genetic predisposition toward criminal activity or any other such nonsense. But the fact remains that blacks commit more crimes per capita than other races. Thus Bennetts statement, while ill-advised and foolish, is probably factually true. I dont see why it is seen as racist simply to acknowledge factual evidence in this regard.
Thats an interesting point, Dominick. I hate to admit it, but its something that I never thought of before, although when I see documentaries on tv, its certainly true that most of the prisoners are black. So maybe, in a way, it makes good rational sense when people are more skittish around blacks in public settings? Do you know any good resources where someone could look at these facts in greater detail?
This is the Department of Justices Bureau of Justice Statistics site. It has figures for the number of whites, blacks, and hispanics that are incarcerated. That, of course, isnt quite the same as statistics on crime rates, but unless one thinks that our justice system is completely and utterly broken, youd have to think they at least have a strong correlation. There may be better stats out there, but this was what I found with a quick Google of it.
On a secondary note, I wouldnt say that it is rational for people to be skittish around blacks in a public setting just because, statistically, they commit more crimes. The crime-committing segment of the black population is still small, I would think, and it hardly justifies fear of the race as a whole.
Because Bill Bs argument can be spun in the way T. Moore says, it was rhetorically weak. Because it could spark the exhange between Roark and Condrad, it was rhetorically weak. But please remember that his intent was to mock FREAKONOMICS. His intent would have been clearer had he said something like babies of women on welfare.
I think Mr. Schramm is putting friendship (with Bennett) before principles here. Lawlers attempt to divine Bennetts "intent" as a dignified rebuttal of a Freakonomics theory is amusing. Here is what Bennett (and his caller) said:
BENNETT: ...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 dont think that statistic is accurate.
BENNETT: Well, I dont think it is either, I dont think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you dont know. But I do know that its 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. (...)
Note Bennetts shift with his use of the word "but." So, Bennett denies that upping abortions would lower crime, UNLESS we would only increase abortions among blacks. What Bennett, Roark, and perhaps Lawler are forgetting is that - since a large percentage of crimes committed by blacks are perpetrated upon other blacks, black abortions are not only eliminating (by this beautiful Nazi logic) potential criminals but also potential criminal victims, so the number of potential victims would also decrease, thus ruining the percentage decrease. What Bennett "knows" is not only morally reprehensible -as he dutifully concedes- but it is also statistically dubious as it exists well up into the hypothetical ether. I guess Im not surprised that the truth-seekers here havent pointed this out.
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