Monday, October 03, 2005
Bill Bennett and "Freakanomics": I avoided commenting on the Bill Bennett dust-up over the past few days because most of what I would've written had been stated elsewhere. See here, here and here. That last link highlights our hypocrite of the week NPR/Fox News' Juan Williams. While condemning Bennett for making the true, but offensive, observation that aborting all black babies in America would reduce the crime rate -- a reductio ad absurdum argument -- Williams does the exact same thing.
What's clearly wrong is if you wanted to say, oh, gosh, you know,  maybe we should have abortions for every woman who has a history in her family of mental illness or anybody who has a disabled child, or  let's get rid of all the Christians, they certainly have been involved in lots of wars.  How about the Jews? You know what?  We have trouble with older people in this country. Clearly, they, you know, cause a great burden on our Social Security system. Maybe we should do away with some of these older people.
You know, Brit, it really speaks to a deeply racist mindset to imagine America somehow as better off if we didn't have those black people around and all those racial issues and all these--you know, so many of these blacks end up in jail, as if they're criminals because they're black. . . . He certainly said it to me. That's what . . . I heard, Brit. . . .
Brit, if I'm sitting here on a national talk show and I say, you know,  maybe if we killed off these white people, we wouldn't have so many mass murders in America, you'd say, Juan, are you out of your mind? . . .
Words have meaning, Brit. . . . I think what you're misunderstanding is it's the idea that he gave voice to this notion. If you were in a Nazi regime and said  you know, gee, you know, a lot of these Jewish people have businesses and they dominate the academy, and therefore wouldn't it be better--that's not a good idea, Brit. Not a good idea to give voice to.
James Taranto goes on to note:
No fewer than six times in a 10-minute segment, Williams did exactly what Bennett did that so offended him--namely, offer an outrageous hypothetical to illustrate a point. We're no more offended by Williams's doing so than we were by Bennett's, but Williams's hypocrisy is simply mind-boggling.
I've read "Freakonomics" and it's a very interesting book. I'm not completely convinced that the authors' claim that there is a causal relationship between a higher abortion rate and a lower crime rate is correct, but that may be simply because I find abortion itself so offensive.
In fact, the book "Freakonomics" answers the very issue that Bennet has raised -- even if there is a causal relationship between abortion and a lower crime rate, it is a terribly inefficient way to bring the crime rate down -- no matter how little value you put on unborn life.
"Freakonomics" also provides another caution to those in favor of unlimited aboriton on demand. Unfortunately I don't have the book with me -- it's been returned to Hoystory Sr. -- but at the end of the book it talks about raising successful children and what type of home environment is most conducive to success later in life.
The authors finish by describing two children, one a child born to a poor black couple, his mother dies when he is young, his father beats him regularly, and he grows up in a housing project and attends below-average schools. The second boy is white, born to two an upper-middle class family, his parents are both college professors and he has all of the advantages of an upper-middle class upbringing.
Both of those boys grew up to become successful. The young black boy grew up to become a college professor whose work is cited several times in the book. The second one also grew up and became a college professor -- his name was Ted Kaczynski. You might know him better under the name the FBI gave him: The Unabomber.
This illustrates one of the tragedies of abortion. Not only are we murdering our future, but for every future criminal who never takes a breath, there can be little doubt that some of those millions who have been killed would've had a profound impact on the world.
Two physicians are talking shop. "Doctor," says one, "I'd like your professional opinion. The question is, should the pregnancy have been terminated or not? The father was syphilitic. The mother was tuberculous. They had already had four children: the first was blind, the second died, the third was deaf and dumb, and the fourth was tuberculous. The woman was pregnant for the fifth time. As the attending physician, what would you have done?"
"I would have terminated the pregnancy."
"Then you would have murdered Beethoven."
I've run astray of my original point, but I think that every honest person knows that Bennett doesn't support any abortion, and especially not a genocidal kind. (Juan Williams on the other hand...) (Sorry Juan, but you asked for it, heck, you begged for it.)
I would, however, like to offer a possible explanation as to why when the White House was asked for comment on this kerfuffle, that they distanced themselves from Bennett: Supporting Bennett would've raised the profile of the stupidity of the whole made-up outrage. Spokesman Scott McClellan would've had to actually explain reductio ad absurdum to the press. It was quickly apparent when the press failed to point and laugh at Media Matters and all of the race-baiters in Congress when this first came up that the press didn't have the inclination, or the brainpower to deal with this thoughtfully or honestly.
Am I indicting the press coverage? Certainly. However, I think it's also apparent that the press knows their audience -- most of America wouldn't get it either, whether it be out of stupidity or willful ignorance, this was just not worth spending political capital on.
Heck, it wasn't worth spending this much time for me to write all of this either. Or you to read it either.