Friday, September 30, 2005

Bennett's Gaffe

Bill Bennett is a bright guy who said something stupid.

Bennett, on his radio show, "Morning in America," was answering a caller's question when he took issue with the hypothesis put forth in a recent book that one reason crime is down is that abortion is up.

"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."

Steve Levitt's book Freakeconomics, the book referenced by the caller, is a tour de force largely because it does something few books do today; propounds arguments a posteriori. Levitt readily concedes his hypothesis that legalized abortion correlates to a lower crime rate may be morally offensive to some. But the manner in which he marshals his facts, and the disinterested way in which he is an explicator of them, is powerful. (This is why I have contempt for Paul Krugman, yes, Clark Medal Winner Krugman [in 1991; Levitt won it in 2003]. Krugman starts with the premise "Republicans are bad, George Bush is worse, and then, as if at a buffet, picks and chooses the facts that conveniently support this belief.) Levitt also writes about why Sumo wrestling is probably fixed, why it might not be in the best interests of a homeowner to use a Realtor, and how teachers cheat on behalf of their students on standardized tests, so his book is largely apolitical.

Mr. Bennett should apologize, if he already hasn't. It was ill-advised to pick a specific race in order to make his argument; Bennett's opposition to abortion is well-known and now instead of discussing the morality of abortion we are discussing the immorality of racism. He shouldn't attempt to explain his way out of it. Having done that, the matter should be closed, in the same fashion that Jessie Jackson's remark that New York City was "Hymietown" was dropped.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If a person like mister Bennett believes abortion to be a crime, wouldn't abort a whole slew of people to prevent crime a little contradictory?

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2:33 PM  

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