Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post responds to Bill Bennett's on-air musing about blacks and abortion:

He should know enough history to understand why black Americans would react strongly when whites start imagining experiments to limit black reproduction. For hundreds of years, this country was obsessed with the supposed menace of black sexuality and fertility. Bennett's remarks have to make you wonder whether that obsession has really vanished or just been deemed off-limits in polite discourse.

Bennett quit his job as chairman of the board of the educational curriculum company K12 this weekend, claiming to be the victim of a "coordinated campaign willfully distorting my views, my record, and my statements."

I spoke to a producer of the Ed Schultz radio show yesterday who told me exactly how this vast left-wing conspiracy began. Schultz heard Bennett's show while driving, couldn't believe his ears, and asked his producer to see if Media Matters had the audio.

Media Matters ran the audio, dozens of bloggers picked it up, and the media followed the story.

Bennett probably could have aborted this controversy with an apology, but humility must be missing from his book of virtues:

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.

Why do people always wrap themselves in the First Amendment when their words get them into trouble? I'm not clear on how criticizing Bennett is any less an expression of free speech than his expressed belief that blacks are more prone to criminality.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

Comments

Except, that wasn't his expressed belief. He was using "Reductio Ab Absurdum" - positing a noxious premise, and asking:

"Given X, would Y then be permissible"

And he came down saying that "no, Y would still be morally reprehensible"

IMHO, it's a good thing Jonathan Swift didn't write in the modern era. His "Modest Proposal" would have been picked up by Media Matters immediately, and no one would have ever understood it for the satire it was intended to be.


 

You're mixing two things together: Bennett's hypothetical suggestion about black abortion, which he did not advocate and considered morally reprehensible, and his belief that blacks are more prone to criminality.

He believes the latter. So does Richard Cohen and many other commentators who are covering this subject. None of them is making any attempt to explain this belief or the statistics upon which they base their opinion. I guess we're supposed to take this ugly and hurtful bit of speculation as a given.


 

Bennett's comments were not taken out of context, but I've heard dozens of people attempt to invent and insert context to excuse his remarks.

Oddly enough, the posters/bloggers I've read are often the same ideologues who constantly bring up the famous Clinton comment '...depends on what is is...' completely without context.

So, for some, inventing presumed context trumps actual available context (as in Clinton's question, which as I recall had to do with a pantry door's status at a certain point in time).

Let's get real folks, the White House has distanced itself and Bennett has slunk away in disgrace. Time to move on. Nothing to see here...


 

HE said the premise was reprehensible, but he never retracted that he believed with less African-American births the crime rate woul decrease. He is a hypocrite in the worst sense--a moralist/ethicist with neither in his personal make-up.


 

The fact that Bennett would even postulate along the line he did in public reveals more about his character than the words that actually came out his mouth. If more public figures would stop talking out the sides of their mouths, they wouldn't have to be worried about being "taken outta context" or the likes. It stands to reason though, it's nice to keep a ace in the cuff when your all in on nothing, but your word and personal beliefs.


 

Interesting. The Constitution is a contract between the people and government. Nothing in the First Amendment, nor any other section of that wonderful document proscribes individual discourse. Any comments to Mr Bennett's statements, freely disseminated, are simply an expression of the First Amendment rights of the speaker, blogger, editorial writer, etc.
The Government is limited by the First Amendment. If I choose to consider Mr Bennett's comments and conclude he is wrong in his reasoning that is my exercise of my Constitutional right to Free Speech.
In no way can I exercise any sanction for his words. Bandying about the Constitution or wrapping oneself in the Flag is a form of hypocrisy when used to curtail honest debate.


 

This is an example of the effort by the Left to dictate the content of speech. Normally whining about how the Right is attempting to limit free speech, the Left are actually the hypocrites who have established the term, "Politically Correct," by years of effort in the schools and the public by castigating the use of certain words or phrases.

From the '60s, when their efforts to block the Civil Rights act failed, the Democrats have spun around and now are the putative champions of civil rights and refuse to allow *anyone* to discuss race issues; except that they coddle and patronize groups based on their racial makeup. Their efforts to "improve" the conditions of groups they, themselves, segregate by race, have failed miserably and now no one can discuss that -- or they are a racist by mentioning the racial group, directly.

Now, even using an analogy about how ridiculous it would be to consider doing something like abort the babies in that "segregated" class, in order to lower crime -- and which was an analogy in direct refutation of how ridiculous it would be to consider that if past abortions had not been done that SS would be viable -- the Left uses it to point-the-bony-finger of "political correctness" at one of their ideological opponents.

The hypocrites use race as a weapon when they choose to do so, but woe undo anyone other than they who might attempt to discuss race for their part!

The ultimate laugh is that the Left accuses the Right of being fascists/nazis, etc., while they are the ones limiting speech to the "level" they dictate it should be. . .the real "nazis" are quite obvious in who it is that militates against freedom of speech!


 

Bennett stated that you could reduce crime by aborting all black babies. He did not say you could eliminate crime, or reduce it by 80%. He simply said you could reduce it, and of course he is right. It might only be reduced by 20%, but it would be reduced. If you take his comment in context you know he meant it as an absurdity.


 

Simply put....Bennett said something painfully stupid....and discussing the validity of the "comments" is simply stupid as well. He should not have said it...and he should have apologized immediately for just saying something that came out wrong. Instead...he said something stupid...and then tried to defend himself by holding up the Constitution....What an idiotic thing to say....and his Book of Virtues should be burned.


 

I must laugh! Brian comes in and dictates "political correctness" and reviles those who actually discuss the situation, by continuing to baa the party-line -- how obtuse can they get?

Exactly by repeating over-and-over again that someone is stupid for reasoning and explaining, rather than toeing the line according to their dictates as to what is "okay" to talk about and what is not. . .

Oblivious bloviators unite under the new "Progressive People's Politically Correct Party!"

Hail Welfare!


 

Tadowe your full of B.S. you were one of the main storm troopers talking about how vocal war protestors should be limited, over on the drudge retort. I can find all your post if you need to be reminded, and don't lie and say you weren't, You ponied up with 101 and niceville, countless times in many or your rants. Your a hypocrit, you sway with the wind and flip flop when the tables are turned.


 

Opps sorry not Drudge, ajc. W2W


 

Thepopesays, "you were one of the main storm troopers talking about how vocal war protestors should be limited, over on the drudge retort.

Where is your commentary, on subject? None, at all. Just some more effort to revile ad hominem. I never tried to say that you, or anyone else, couldn't say what they pleased. You are just another squawking parrot play the politics of personal destruction.

"I can find all your post if you need to be reminded, and don't lie and say you weren't"

Go ahead and prove yourself to be the liar. I dare you. Get Rogers help. . .


 

hey thepopeisafool and tadowe, both of ya shut up....


 

As a black oerson, the basic premise that I find offensive in Bennett's remaek is the presumption that more black babies equates to higher crime rates. Would whites not find it offensive if he had said the same, except to subsitute 'white trash or hillbilly' for 'black'. Bennett is a hypocrite who has been harping about moral values for close to 20 years that I can recall. Isn't he the one with a seious gambling additiction. I am sure he has many more skeletons in hus own closet.


 

this is why there will never ever be any unity of the races...that supremacy bone can't be broken or even reset with white people. its a tragic lose for shared humanity.


 

Lhenry says, "hey thepopeisafool and tadowe, both of ya shut up...."

No, let me guess -- no commentary about the subject and a dictatorial order?

Democrat, right?


 

Ababutaya says, "As a black oerson, the basic premise that I find offensive in Bennett's remaek is the presumption that more black babies equates to higher crime rates."

Bennett indicated that it would be ridiculous to suppose that aborting all black babies would lower the crime rate, and just as it is ridiculous that not having all the abortions in the past would solve the Social Security problem.

The causes of the high crime rate is poverty, as well as the dissolution of the family and the guidance and discipline functional families provide. Bennett knows that -- he isn't unaware of those root causes and is also aware that poverty and non-functional families' problem isn't 'solved' by aborting any fetuses in those groups of people. And, that is exactly what he said, that it would be ridiculous to suppose it would.

"Would whites not find it offensive if he had said the same, except to subsitute 'white trash or hillbilly' for 'black'."

He didn't use those groups as an example, because they aren't the group which has the highest statistics for crime. However, they do add to the crime statistics and it would be as ridiculous to say that aborting the babies in that group(s) would solve the crime problem. I'm wouldn't be offended if he did say that it would be ridiculous to suppose that it would solve the problem of crime.

"Bennett is a hypocrite who has been harping about moral values for close to 20 years that I can recall. Isn't he the one with a seious gambling additiction. I am sure he has many more skeletons in hus own closet."

That may be so and maybe he is adding to 'crime,' in his own way. Do you think that it would solve the 'crime problem' is he had been aborted, or would you suppose that that would be ridiculous?

You are offended by his saying that aborting black fetuses would be ridiculous and to consider that to be so is morally reprehensible. It is beyond a doubt, that if you aborted all white babies, crime statistics would go down, or yellow, brown or purple, but aborting any group would NOT solve the crime problem, as he said.

Indeed, you and the Left are reacting out of partisanship, and misdirecting the issue onto 'political correctness.' You want him to be in the 'wrong' because he is a Republican, not because what he said was in any way incorrect. The Left is attempting to dictate what can be said and what can't be, by twisting this issue into a personal attack and all for political reasons. Indeed, when someone on the Left wants to discuss sensitive issues like abortion and its consequences, they have a free pass from minorities to do so, but when the Right attempts to make an analogy to illustrate what is RIDICULOUS, the Left jumps up and claims the Right is actually suggesting it as a viable solution (even though you know that Bennett is against abortion!)

Indeed, it is the Left which is playing the 'race card' hoping to fool the public into believing that that is what Bennett wants -- to abort all black babies. . .

What a big fat LIE!


 

Sparkyb says, "this is why there will never ever be any unity of the races...that supremacy bone can't be broken or even reset with white people. its a tragic lose for shared humanity."

I am a mutt and that is the way to the 'unity' of the races. I believe that 'unity' will be achieved post haste and the real racists will be known by the purity of their 'heritage.' I'm not a naysayer and do not dismiss, out of hand, that the problem is all because of 'whites.' Xenophobia is an instinctive hangover from the days of living in caves and can't be cured by blaming any one race, over the other. Unfortunately, that is what is being attempted in this issue. It is the Left which is pointing the 'race' finger and coddling xenophobia. . .

Shame on them!


 

I listened to the excerpt including the statement Bennett made FOLLOWING saying it would be reprehensible. I found it amazing. I'd be surprised by any African-American who didn't feel sucker punched by this. This wasn't about economics (he was referencing Freakonomics- right?) This was a race statement. Do people actually feel there would be more crimes committed by African Americans if they had equal economic status to the whites and all that implies? (Again, listen to the statement after reprehensible) Or is a statement about crime being inherent in race okay to let go by?

And - comparing Jonathan Swift's sharp, biting social, economic satire to a, ummm.... "theoretical" racist comment by William Bennett --- whoever it was really shouldn't be reading Swift. What's the point?

As said, he should've just apologized. Said he used a poor example or his example didn't come out the way he intended or something....Why not? I'm sure he wouldn't have wanted to cause this reaction.


 

Consider a reversal of the thesis.
If the birth of white babies could be suddenly tripled, mathematically, in 16 years wouldn't the number of whites involved in crime, or going to church, or eating at McDonald's increase substantially?


 

tadowe, I call bullsh*t! How the hell can you make this statement:


Bennett indicated that it would be ridiculous to suppose that aborting all black babies would lower the crime rate, and just as it is ridiculous that not having all the abortions in the past would solve the Social Security problem.

Bennett clearly DID indicate that aborting black babies would lower the crime rate. That's more than enough to enrage any sane-minded individual, and just adding (in effect), "but of course we would NEVER do that" does NOT eliminate the outrage. If that's not what he intended (as he states on his own web site, referring to the 'Socratic Method'), then he did a piss-poor job phrasing his words.

Now, just to make sure I wasn't being blindsided by liberal media, I took some time to verify the quote on a number of web sites. Here's the exact text from www.theconservativevoice.com (emphasis mine):


"BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either, I don't think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you don't know. 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. 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."


OK, now I've seen the text from a bonafide conservative source. He didn't say 'Well here's a hypothetical argument for example.' I don't see any sign of 'Socratic Method' here. The items I emphasized sure indicate to me that he really believes what he's saying. Based on these words as they're written, I have to take the explanation on his web site as nothing more than damage control.

He said what he said, and everyone on both sides of the aisle can dig into the subtext of those words. Does he think blacks have a higher crime rate because they're black? Does he think it's because they're unfairly held down by poverty? It doesn't matter at this point. But trying to rewrite his words to fit your politics does piss me off.

Damn you for getting me involved in this.


 

Do people actually feel there would be more crimes committed by African Americans if they had equal economic status to the whites and all that implies?

That's the question I'd like to see Bennett answer -- all other things being equal, do you think a black baby born this morning is more likely than a white baby to become a criminal?


 

Jill says, "I listened to the excerpt including the statement Bennett made FOLLOWING saying it would be reprehensible. I found it amazing. I'd be surprised by any African-American who didn't feel sucker punched by this."

You want the comment to be 'racist,' and not about how ridiculous and morally reprehensible the proposition would be. In a way, you attempt to deny what was said by Bennett, in order to do so -- that he considered it a reasonable and morally acceptable premis for solving the crime problem, so that you can revile him for the statement. That can easily be seen from your next comment:

"This wasn't about economics (he was referencing Freakonomics- right?) This was a race statement."

It was an hyperbolic analogy presented to discredit the idea presented by a caller to his show: that if abortion had been illegal for the last 20 years, then the Social Security system would not be in trouble. However, you deny that, out of hand, in your effort to make it into a 'racist' statement.

". . .(Again, listen to the statement after reprehensible) Or is a statement about crime being inherent in race okay to let go by?"

Is it 'racist' to break crime statistics out into racial groups? If not, then it isn't 'racist' to notice that black crime statistics are the highest in that group.

I don't know, but *statistically* I would suppose that whites are the next largest group in crime statistics. Would aborting more/all white fetuses lower crime statistics? Of course, it would! But, that would be a ridiculous and morally reprehensible suggestion. Then, as Bennett said, it wouldn't solve the crime problem. That is so because it, the problem of crime, isn't about race, but about poverty and family values, and as he attempted to illustrate by denying that not having abortions would solve the SS problem.

However, you and the Left don't want to accept those facts but rather want to dictate what can and can't be said in relation to race and to apply the label of 'racist' to those from the Right, in order to elevate the Left, thereby. It is the Left that is attempting to cause racial dissension in this issue and others, when race is discussed. It is the Left which are attempting to suppress free speech. . .for partisan political purposes.

"As said, he should've just apologized. Said he used a poor example or his example didn't come out the way he intended or something....Why not? I'm sure he wouldn't have wanted to cause this reaction."

Sure, the Left demands an apology from the based on what the Left determines to be proper speech. That would validate your 'politically correct' dictates and demands. Ironically, you can't see how that effort suppresses free speech; even when it is right in front of your noses -- right here on this page. . .in your own words. . .


 

Rover says, "OK, now I've seen the text from a bonafide conservative source. He didn't say 'Well here's a hypothetical argument for example.' I don't see any sign of 'Socratic Method' here."


 

Rover says, "OK, now I've seen the text from a bonafide conservative source. He didn't say 'Well here's a hypothetical argument for example.' I don't see any sign of 'Socratic Method' here."

See, Jill? Not only are the words which can be used dictated by the Left, but the way you say them must fit the 'politically correct' way that is demanded.

Of course, none of you can see that -- since you are so intent on defaming and reviling someone you consider to be a political opponent. . .

Partisan blindness and dictatorial suppression of free speech, by playing the 'racist card'. . .

Disgusting!


 

Rogers asks, "That's the question I'd like to see Bennett answer -- all other things being equal, do you think a black baby born this morning is more likely than a white baby to become a criminal?"

You could -- if you wanted to lower crime statistics -- abort all white babies, and you would accomplish that, but it would be a ridiculous idea and morally reprehensible.

Am I a racist, Rogers?

Answer that please. . .


 

No, thanks. I'm just going to kick back and enjoy the breeze produced by your spin.


 

Hey Jill, Clean your ears!


 

Rogers runs away, "No, thanks. I'm just going to kick back and enjoy the breeze produced by your spin."

Okay, although I know you understand what I was asking, perhaps you don't care to issue a libel, eh?

How about, "Do I sound like a racist, for saying that?"


 

Anything I could say would just feed a diatribe on the innate superiority of the Right and utter depravity of the Left.

Those kinds of arguments just seem like mental junk food to me.


 

Rogers attacks, "Anything I could say would just feed a diatribe on the innate superiority of the Right and utter depravity of the Left."

I have never mentioned any 'innate superiority' of the Right over the Left. I don't believe there is any political 'superiority' from birth!

However, I do appreciate the reply (2 sidesteps) and which indicates that you can't determine whether I am a racist from the statement I presented. You can spin/lie about Bennett, though, for the same reasons and promote the ignorance of your 'public' by preying on their emotional partisanship.

"Those kinds of arguments just seem like mental junk food to me."

Sure, sure, any effort at intellectual honesty is liable to be 'fattening. . .' Es mejor comer el mole del toro. . .


 

Tadowe: You continue to put labels on those of us who are offended by Bennett's comments. This is not a LEFT or RIGHT issue. I happen to be a black person who opposes abortion, disapproves of the Iraq war, is married and a father, and fiscally conservative. Needless to say, it is pretty hard to pigeon hole me. Disapproving of Bennett's comments is just an issue of human decency and is based upon what is acceptable or not as a supposition to make in a civil discussion(hypothetical as it may be put as). Off course, Bennett has all the right to say what he said - as we have the right to not like it and give him hell for it. All it is part of our Constitutional right of free speech (expression), as long as we do not infringe on his right to say other dumb crap in the future.

What Bennett did was akin to letting loose with a loud and stinky fart in a crowded dining room. He may have the right to do it, but it does not make such an act appropriate. And BTW, the other diners do have the right to let the perpetrator know that they are offended and ask for an apology.


 

Ababutaya describes himself, "(. . .)"

You want Bennett to be, or have, the appearance of a racist; you are partisanly inspired to think so.

I asked Rogers a question, above, as to my being, or having the appearance of being, a racist based on what I said.

Can you answer the question? Am I a racist, or appear to be one?


 

TADOWE: If you mean by racist, a bigot, I don't know if you are a racist or not. For all I know, you just like mental gymnastics,

What I want to establish is that what Bennett hypothesis presuposes that there is a direct causal relationship between criminal behavior and ones color of skin at birth. That kind of mentality is only a smidgen removed from bigotry.


 

Ababutay says, "TADOWE: If you mean by racist, a bigot, I don't know if you are a racist or not. For all I know, you just like mental gymnastics,"

I am explaining my position in relation to this issue -- I am not engaging in 'mental gymnastics.' Saying that is an attempt to belittle my explanations and to preprejudice my reply.

"What I want to establish is that what Bennett hypothesis presuposes that there is a direct causal relationship between criminal behavior and ones color of skin at birth. That kind of mentality is only a smidgen removed from bigotry."

Bennett explicitly identified the book, "Freakonomics," and which is the source of the statistics you are so upset about. Bennett stated that it would be ridiculous to suppose that any "crime problem" would be solved by reducing anyone/fetus/baby in that class of individuals. He stated also that to consider doing so would be morally reprehensible.

That is so because race is not the cause of crime! Bennett said that by denying the similar proposition presented that not having abortions for the last 20 years would not solve the SS problem, and because (although he didn't specify) that population numbers is not the problem with Social Security. . .

As I mentioned, you are partisanly inclined to defame and revile someone in another party, and obviously don't mind running-in and adding your blow to the victim identified for you -- without thinking. . .

You can't identify me as a 'racist' by what I asked Rogers, and although it is equivalent to what Bennett said. That should set a light off above your head, but you still insist on rationalizing your hatred; your own bigotry.


 

I got the impression from reading the conversation that Mr. Bennett's basic premise was that you cannot justify moral decisions on the basis of statistics; that it doesn't work. But his poor choice of example is one of those events that affects you like when John Kerry said if people drop out of school they'll end up in Iraq. It's a "cringer." After it comes out there is no recovery. No one cares what he was trying to say, only how it sounded. He's been hosed by his own comment, even if he meant no harm by it, even if he has a love for his black brothers that would melt your heart.

I feel bad for him, mainly because all the good stuff he has written and lived is now overshadowed by one ill-worded statement. It's a waste.


 

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