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Author Topic: Bill Bennett: Aborting all black children would reduce crime
RickyB
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But it's us libruls who are the racists.
http://mediamatters.org/items/200509280006

[ September 30, 2005, 12:45 AM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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JoshuaD
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I don't know who Bill Bennet is, but you took his quote a little out of context:

quote:
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 think the bolded part may have been his point.

I don't think this absolves him, but let's at least look at the whole truth.

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RickyB
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William (Bill) Bennett is a leading conservative "thinker", former Sec. of Ed. under Reagan, and author of a smarmy moralistic tract called "The Book of Virtues". He's also a high stakes gambler who admitted to having lost millions at the tables, which is of course a most virtuous thing to do.

Anyway, I respectfully disagree. Listen to the recording. He emphasizes it "It would be a ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down ". I think the part one repeats, and emphasizes in contrast with moral and other qualifiers, is the point one is trying to make. Yes, overall he's arguing against "far reaching extrapolations", but as an aside, he totally makes the point that less black people = less crime.

This is one of the most racist things you could say. This implies that not only are black people as a group currently situated so as to disproportionately fill the crime niche inherent in our social and economic structure, but that crime is intrinsic to them, so that if there were no more black people our society would somehow become more moral on average and no-one would fill the vacated crime rosters.

[ September 30, 2005, 01:05 AM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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pickled shuttlecock
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Don't be stupid, RickyB. I'm serious. This isn't worth your time.

quote:
This is one of the most racist things you could say. This implies that not only are black people as a group currently situated so as to disproportionately fill the crime niche inherent in our social and economic structure, but that crime is intrinsic to them, so that if there were no more black people our society would somehow become more moral on average and no-one would fill the vacated crime rosters.
Come on, RickyB! Beat that straw man to death!

If blacks, on average, even just due to circumstance, were just a few percent more likely to commit crime (just outside the error margin), aborting all their babies would cause crime rates to fall in the short term. Statistically speaking, it's a fact. That's it. Reading "no-one would fill the vacated crime rosters" into it is ridiculous.

His point, which you seem to have missed as it was drowned out by your foolish blathering, is that the numbers and mathematical extrapolations are not sufficient to build public policy. How can you possibly disagree?

[ September 30, 2005, 01:18 AM: Message edited by: pickled shuttlecock ]

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FiredrakeRAGE
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RickyB -

I agree with pickled shuttlecock's interpretation.

--Firedrake

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JoshuaD
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quote:
He's also a high stakes gambler who admitted to having lost millions at the tables, which is of course a most virtuous thing to do.
I gotta get him to sit down with me. [Big Grin]
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Richard Dey
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Speaking of alcoholism and gambling genes, I wonder if there's a bureaucrat gene or some genetic anomaly that gives certain sick people a propensity to go into politics.
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The Drake
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If such a thing were to take place (although I'd prefer to use a plague that only affects black people rather than killing them all by hand - for the thought experiment), would we have less crime? I would argue yes, but not because crime is inherent to black people. Black people make up a disproportionate share of poor and unemployed. Therefore, if you eliminate that segment of the population, you probably would have less crime. Certain crimes would be unaffected - you probably get just as many rapes. But armed robbery probably goes down.

There's nothing racist implied by the statement.

You can also make the argument that the statement would be true because of racial profiling and police racism. Without any blacks to incarcerate, the jails would be darn near empty, at least that's what I hear from advocates for reform in the justice system.

Of course, neither of those REALLY fit the hypothesis. If you aborted every black baby, there would be one hell of a lot of angry black adults - and I imagine they would be committing a lot of crimes to correct that wrong.

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FiredrakeRAGE
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I believe the major thing to take away from the article is simply this: we cannot base social policy around the fulfillment of certain ends without ensuring that the methods used to achieve those ends are both morally correct, and within the bounds of the Constitution.

A while ago TS Elliot ranted about using IQ tests to segment the population. I believe that Bennet is attempting to make the same point using significantly different language.

It comes down, as most things in government do, to balancing liberties and our desire to live in peace. There are actions that cannot be executed regardless of the effect they may have. While the example used by Bennet is inflammatory due to the racial divide, I believe his point can be summed up with this statement: government is restricted for a reason.

All too often both parties attempt to force an issue upon society. Most of the time there is little doubt that the various problems need addressing. The question is the means with which we address the problem, and the freedoms which are revoked with each restrictive law.

I believe Bennet is arguing that more caution should be exercised when passing laws. While a single law may have a small effect, we need to be sure to address not only the effects of a law, but the means with which those effects are created.

One of the upcoming large debates is that of DNA protections and due process. I believe that these thoughts can be applied to that discussion. A reduction in crime is good, but not if it costs another small sliver of the freedoms that we take for granted.

--Firedrake

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Digger
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I think it's pretty obvious what Bennett was trying to convey, but he was clumsy in his delivery and it left him open to a playing of the race card. You'd think an experienced gambler would know better...
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pickled shuttlecock
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I'm going to "me too" Digger.
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RickyB
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No, if there were were less (or no) black people, other people would become criminals. Just as an example, white people would still need someone to sell them drugs. The volume of the drug trade (relative to population size) would not be reduced. So which crime would have its rate reduced?

I totally agree with the point about mathematical extrapolation of this sort not being sufficient to formulate policy upon. I still disagree with his example of such an extrapolation, and I still think that the fact that he chose this example proves that he's... racially insensitive, to say the least.


Ed. to qualify statement about drug trade in 1st paragraph.

[ September 30, 2005, 04:14 AM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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Pete at Home
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Ricky, this is no different than the Planet Parenthood argument a few years back about the corresponding drop in crime tied to number of abortions. I've no love for Bennet, but here, he's criticizing that logic, not extending it.

Planet Parenthood: Killing babies before they are born reduces crime.
Bill Bennet: By that logic, killing black babies before they are born reduces crime.
Ricky: Omigosh! Racist!
Pete: given the context, aren't you being a wee bit fastidious, Ricky?

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RickyB
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Yes it is different. One says that preventing people from being born in certain circumstances where they won't have the material support and love they need reduces the chance they'll be criminals. The other argues that preventing people from being born to a specific ethnic group reduces same.

Besides, that argument (about abortions and crime) is in the new book everyone is talking about, Freakonomics.

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FIJC
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Well, I am not going to defend Bill Bennett, and you would be foolish to think that other conservatives actually like working with him. I am not going to go into specifics, but he is known to not be the nicest person in the world to regular conservative staffers.
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RickyB
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I hereby rest my case [Big Grin]
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Ivan
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Your case was that Bennett was a big meaniepants? [Confused]
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A. Alzabo
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Actually Bennett really missed the statistical point.

Aborting all babies would reduce crime.

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RickyB
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No, I meant that if Lady Heritage her ownself won't defend him, then he's indefensible [Razz]
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Digger
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AA, as soon as I read your post I had a vision of the hysterical press accounts of the growing "geriatric on geriatric" crime wave sweeping the country. Those little Rascal Scooters would be used in drive-by's - oh the horror.
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Adjudicator
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Ricky- how can you support your assumption that the crime rate must remain constant? As a simple thought experiment: let us suppose that we can kill all current felons just by wishing it so. We wish it so and all those who have committed a felony cease to exist. Your logic requires that all of those felons be replaced by new felons, for the crime rate must remain constant.

To extrapolate this to the current case- if you eliminate a segment of the population which has a disproportionately higher crime rate then the crime rate will go down- unless you think that there is a "crime niche" which will subsequently be filled by the rich and middle class?

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David Ricardo
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Bill Bennett is not a racist. His comment was not racist.

Now, was his comment stupid? Yeah, it was a stupid comment -- but that's because he's not a real conservative and because he's a hypocritical big government loving authoritarian who would love to use the power of the state to remold society to his preferences.

Now, are the "libruls" stupid for jumping all over Bennett for this? Yeah, they are -- that's because they are just reaffirming their stupid adherence to political correctness.

"Libruls" would do far better to spend their time spreading sunlight on the massive coverup of Administration pro-torture policies (which are rapidly eroding the national security of our country) than to waste their time playing the ridiculous Bill Bennett is a stupid racist card.

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RickyB
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I'm not saying it must, and if you take out all felons then the crime rate would probably drop. But he didn't say all felons. He said blacks, and that's wehy it's racist - equating "blacks" with "criminals".

What I am saying is that if you take out the group currently held at the bottom of the ladder, the next group up will then become the lowest and fill the niches the former lowest group used to.

Take 19th century NYC. The worst neighborhood was called Five Points. The criminal element was not the Blacks, but rather the Irish.

David - we tried. No one wants to hear it. Y'all conservative Bush dislikers need to do this. Maybe you'll get a hearing.

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Wayward Son
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quote:
"Libruls" would do far better to spend their time spreading sunlight on the massive coverup of Administration pro-torture policies (which are rapidly eroding the national security of our country) than to waste their time playing the ridiculous Bill Bennett is a stupid racist card.
Ricky's right. Only Nixon could go to China. Find your Nixon (but one with better ethics). [Smile]

(BTW, it's "lib'r'l"--one syllable. [Wink] )

[ September 30, 2005, 11:59 AM: Message edited by: Wayward Son ]

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Adjudicator
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Ricky- that is exactly the premise I am disputing. Removing the lowest rung does not mean that the next group up will then take on the characteristics which used to be held by the lowest rung. If everyone below the poverty line died, whould the middle class then become exactly like the poor? I am just not following that logic.

As far as being racist- the simple fact is that the crime rate is higher among blacks. That means that statistically more blacks are criminals. This obviously creates a false dichotomy since the factors which lead to criminality are things like the terrible marriage rate, the more extensive poverty and so on, but it doesn't change the fact that more blacks find themselves in that position.

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Omega M.
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But Bennett said, "That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down." So he's in no way advocating it. I assume he was simply referring to the facts of what groups of people make up the highest percentage of prisoners and making the assumption that if you get rid of a group that's very highly represented the crime rate would go down. Now, that assumption may be incorrect, but is it bigoted when accompanied by the statement above?

I mean, surely there's a good chance that if you aborted all male babies and figured out some other way to reproduce, crime would go down, and there must be plenty of demented academic feminists out there who would love to tell you so.

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Wayward Son
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If he'd been a bit smarter, he would have prefaced his comment with, "Since blacks have statistically higher crime rates for whatever reason..."

Or even better, have said, "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 poor baby in this country, since the poor make up a disproporation percentage of criminals, and your crime rate would go down..."

Or better yet, say, "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 rich baby in this country, and your white collar crime rate would go down..." [Big Grin]

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pickled shuttlecock
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quote:
Originally posted by Omega M.:
I mean, surely there's a good chance that if you aborted all male babies and figured out some other way to reproduce, crime would go down, and there must be plenty of demented academic feminists out there who would love to tell you so.

The difference is that they'd not be using it as part of a reductio ad absurdum argument. They'd be totally serious.
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Richard Dey
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So the fact that something is racist or sexist makes it wrong but not incorrect ...?

Liberals confused this differential with intent -- and conservatives by accident?

The words are really proracist and antiracist, two forms of racism.

It's just that liberal social engineers got to the words before conservative social engineers. They're all racists and sexists; that does not mean, ipso facto, that either is or both are wrong. It means only that we have to stop and analyze every bloody word either side of these issues utters, obliging us to be skeptics.

As Omega M points out so boldly, in Amazonland we'd have peace and prosperity; the only problem with that profeminist argument is that the one historical example we have was rapine [Wink] .

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foliated
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The Drake wrote:

quote:
If such a thing were to take place (although I'd prefer to use a plague that only affects black people rather than killing them all by hand - for the thought experiment)
I remember reading a sci fi novel a few years back which was set in the near future. Exactly that had happened. I can't remember the title, though. One day, all the black people simply disappeared. Disintegrated into dust and blew away in the wind, if memory serves. I think Disney had something to do with engineering the plague. That, and there was a black pirate who survived the plague because , it turned out, he had green eyes.

I wish I remember what the title was, though.

do you think we'll ever hit a day where any scenario we care to imagine has already been explored somehow by some author? Has that day passed?

anyway, enough idle thought for me.

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A. Alzabo
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quote:
do you think we'll ever hit a day where any scenario we care to imagine has already been explored somehow by some author? Has that day passed?

What about the opposite?

The Apartheid-Era South African military tried to develop biological weapons that would only target black people...

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Haggis
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The U.S. military tried to develop a gay bomb for the purposes of disrupting enemy morale.
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kythri
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
No, if there were were less (or no) black people, other people would become criminals. Just as an example, white people would still need someone to sell them drugs.

So let me get this straight - you're upset at Bennett for making what you claim is a racist remark - yet your post above insinuates that all the drug dealers are black?

I don't get it, but, hey, whatever.

[ September 30, 2005, 03:21 PM: Message edited by: kythri ]

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FIJC
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quote:
"The U.S. military tried to develop a gay bomb for the purposes of disrupting enemy morale."
In a military/defense context, this makes sense. The general rule of thumb should be aiming to foil an enemy's plot, alliances, and morale, prior to attacking an enemy's army or setting siege upon an enemy's city.
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A. Alzabo
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quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"The U.S. military tried to develop a gay bomb for the purposes of disrupting enemy morale."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In a military/defense context, this makes sense. The general rule of thumb should be aiming to foil an enemy's plot, alliances, and morale, prior to attacking an enemy's army or setting siege upon an enemy's city.

Some of those proposed weapons are both funny and potentially useful (although I'd hate to be the soldier tasked with going house to house smelling peoples' breath in the hunt for guerillas).

But has no one ever heard of the Spartans?! A gay bomb would be most effective at disrupting our own military.

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The Drake
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What if Bennet had talked about unemployed parents instead of "black" parents? What if his example was about single mothers? What if he talked about aborting white babies to curb housing prices?

It seems that this is getting altogether blown out of proportion, where if anyone acknowledges that black people are convicted of crime at a higher rate than white people - that makes the speaker some kind of racist. Unless, of course, the context is to criticize the unfair judicial system.

Is it really healthy to have an environment where you can't even talk about this issue without being labelled a racist?

That said, there are certain rules that any bureaucrat should know:

1. Abortion should never be used in any analogy, discussion, or critique of any other issue.

2. Never acknowledge that there are any racial demographics unless your point is flattering to the minority.

3. Never expect your audience to actually consider qualifiers to your statements. Every statement you make will be considered advocacy.

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Haggis
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Wow. I never thought I'd hear FIJC be pro gay on anything. [Razz]
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A. Alzabo
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quote:
It seems that this is getting altogether blown out of proportion, where if anyone acknowledges that black people are convicted of crime at a higher rate than white people - that makes the speaker some kind of racist. Unless, of course, the context is to criticize the unfair judicial system.

I agree that too much has been made of this, and that Bennett isn't a closet klansman.

However, where I disagree with you is that I highly doubt that Bennett was thinking of comparative crime rates -- I think he probably just associates "black" and "criminal" prerationally -- as do many people.

Edited for clarity.

[ September 30, 2005, 03:45 PM: Message edited by: A. Alzabo ]

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FiredrakeRAGE
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A. Alzabo said:
quote:
However, where I disagree with you is that I highly doubt that Bennett was thinking of comparative crime rates -- I think he probably just associates "black" and "criminal" prerationally -- as do many people.
What would you base that on?

--Firedrake

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A. Alzabo
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quote:
What would you base that on?

Life experience/Occam's Razor.
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