Saturday, October 01, 2005

A History of Virtue Part II - The Revenge of the Pissed

I am going to follow up on yesterday's post about Bill Bennett. I normally don't do "follow-ups" but this has been on my mind.

I had some interesting comments from Tom (the link is merely procedural, since it is not a frequently updated blog), and I got a good question from Parker in the comments to yesterday's post:

Do you believe that what Bennett said, taken at face value only, is true . . . with reference to merely the statistical probability of committing crimes?

I have watched numerous news bits about this whole brouhaha, and now I will offer my 2 cents*.

(I have researched this online, but because the statistics are all over the map, I am not going to cite any one source. But my thoughts are based on general trends.)

It is true that black people are statistically more likely to commit crimes, and it is true that the prisons are disproportionately populated by black people. It is true that "black on white" crimes (black perpetrator, white victim) are the most commonly reported.

As for the whole "prisons are full of blacks" argument -- Yes, they are. This does not necessarily mean anything, since it is true that the justice system is not always fair. Blacks are more likely to be arrested, then more likely to be convicted than whites who commit crimes. So the fact that there are fewer whites in prison does not necessarily mean the whites are committing fewer crimes. (I know, I know -- but my point is that the statistics are skewed by the fact that we are not living in a colorblind world.)

My biggest issue with Bill Bennett's comment is that it ignores causation; that is, he implies, by referring to black babies, that blacks are inherently more likely to commit crimes, simply because they are black. Obviously, society plays a large part in creating criminals. (I am not excusing criminal behavior or denying personal responsibilty, either. It is an explanation for WHY people do what they do.) Black people are more likely to live in abject poverty, which breeds hopelessness. Bennett could have just as easily said that we should abort all poor people to reduce the crime rate, which would have been perhaps even more true.
But he didn't say this.

I do not believe for a second that Bill Bennett actually wants to abort black fetuses. But I also do not believe for one second that he has any interest in addressing the societal causes of poverty and crime. As an arch-conservative, he repeats the mantra "personal responsibilty, personal responsibility," which is all well and good, but he (and many others) shout this with blinders on. One of my biggest objections to "conservative thought" is that conservatives blame liberals for "handouts" and "crutches," but the conservatives seem to be living in a dream world where everyone has the same opportunities as everyone else. I once had a debate with one of the bartenders at Zorbaz, who is very conservative. He said his biggest problem with liberals is that liberals want to make excuses for everything. I tried to explain that excuses and explanations are not the same, and I walked away from the debate thinking that my biggest problem with conservatives is their complete inability to put themselves in another's shoes. To think that in today's society everyone is born on the same starting line is ignorant and blind thinking.

So Bill Bennett will say "blacks cause more crime," and he will be right. But I doubt he has any interest in doing anything about it.

Sidenote: It is also true that a large percentage of abortions are performed for poor black mothers. Many of these unwanted pregnancies would turn into unwanted children -- unwanted by everyone. My mom used to be on the Board of Directors of Indiana Planned Parenthood, and once when she was at the statehouse, a senator came up to her and yelled at her, "Sue, why can't you promote adoption!?!?" My mom just calmy responded, "Frank, when you have adopted an inner-city black baby, then come yell at me." Pro-life people say "Why not adoption? There are families waiting for babies!" True, but not for ALL babies.

*According to my calculations, at current gas prices, my 2 cents will buy about .0067 gallons of gas, or about 5000 drops.


At 7:09 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

ok, now i want to talk about abortion

liberals are usually credited for being more compassionate, and conservatives, the opposite. I agree with this generalization.
Abortion, however, seems to single-handedly disprove this stereotype, not because it makes conservatives more compassionate, but mostly because it makes liberals less compassionate. Politics COMPLETELY aside, I just absolutely cannot fathom how, in ANY circumstance, one could justify killing - excuse me, not allowing an innocent human being to live.

My mom is 45 years old. She had my brother, Nicholas, 18 months ago. This was not a planned pregnancy, and, in a lot of ways, became very inconvenient and resulted in unexpected and unwanted responsibilities for all involved. But when i look at him and think that in similar circumstances in a different household, that he might not be on this earth, it makes me want to vomit and cry at the same time, and not just because he is my brother, but because he stands there in front of me, a living, breathing person with the potential for anything in life. And dont tell me that professionally performed abortions havent happened under similar circumstances, becuase they have.

Don't worry, that's all the sentimental stuff, im sure many people are rolling their eyes at this point, but please, read on, ive also got cold, hard reasoning ahead...

One could reason that killing it is compassionate, for surely the child's life would be worse than death. This, of course, is bullshit. There IS a such thing as adoption. There ARE people willing to adopt ANY race of child, and whether I'd be willing to is completely irrelevant, because there are people whose only chance at parenthood is adoption, so, for lack of any euphemisms, they have no choice if they are to become parents. Not only that, but there are LOTS of people who adopt babies and there are LOTS of people who are accepting of all races, so there must be SOME who are both. So, nobody can tell me that any fetus has no chance at a life better than death.
Also bullshit, is when pro-choicers argue that abortions can take place before the fetus/ DNA goo is an actual living human being. While this itself is true, the idea is still disgusting. That goo is the beginning of life that is not its mother's, nor any doctor's to take. Let me also put it this way: without this goo, none of us would be alive... think about it... please think about it... the goo is significant. when two people's DNA join together, something significant happens... some call it the miracle of life... some call it a nuisance... so i see this defense as similar to me justifying not going to chem lecture by reasoning, "oh its an easy class, ill just catch up... bla bla bla..." It gives me a false sense of justification for doing something i know is wrong. Also, dont give me the "its her body, its her choice" crap. Should conjoined twins be able to kill each other? Would that be acceptable? To be honest, (and please nobody be offended, this is not meant to insult anyone) it is hard for me to find out that someone i respect and thought of as a reasonable person thinks that abortion is a right that women should have.
Id like to end with two questions for all pro-choice/ liberal people:

Why abortion but not the death penalty?


If you were able, would you, under circumstances that fit your criteria for justifyable abortion, abort a child?

i have so much more to say

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

oh and, btw, just in case anyone ACTUALLY thought that i had sympathy for the guy, this bill bennet guy is obviously an idiot, and like many others, pisses me off for making conseratives everywhere look stupid and close-minded. he is no longer any of my concern, except that, i wish he would apologize, but it doesnt look like he will.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

oh, one more thing, John. i wrote "how so" in response to this:

"your use of the phrase "Freudian slip" is more telling than you meant it to be."

so please explain how my use of the phrase "Freudian slip" is more telling than i meant it to be. i dont understand.

At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Kath posited...

So, I originally came to comment to talk about "Freakonomics," the book with the argument Bennett butchered in his comment, but must first respond to sahib.

The major challenge with the anti-abortion movement is that they are doing nothing to prevent abortion except criminalizing it. If the religious right cares so damned much about the unborn, they need to be supporting real sex education, promoting the use of birth control, and enabling women and their partners to reduce their risk of unwanted pregnancies. The fact that they are both criminalizing abortion AND refusing to fund sex ed that talks about anything but abstinence is where they fall flat.

On to “Freakonomics.” Bennett is correct in that the decreased crime rate in the 1990s can be causally linked to the legalization of abortion—more so than arguments about a stronger economy or improved policing (sorry, Giuliani). Where Bennett added his own bullshit, was in adding race to the argument. “Freakonomics” never does—it’s really an issue of economics and class. In short, “…the very factors that drove millions of American women to have an abortion also seemed to predict that their children, had they been born, would have led unhappy and possibly criminal lives.”

At 8:30 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

yeah, i guess youre right...

DID YOU NOT EVEN READ MY COMMENT? I ALREADY ADDRESSED AND DISMISSED YOUR BULLSHIT EXCUSES. yes, overall, statistics improve with abortion, the point is, ITS NOT WORTH IT. ITS SICK. and i dont care about the anti-abprtion movement, im sure it sucks because its run by some piece of shit extreme right bureaucracy; my point is just that abortion is unnatural and horrid. and dont lump me in with all the pro-life nuts, please, this is simply my own independant thought and sense of right and wrong.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

You said "he brought the focus away from what he meant it to be with a TERRIBLE Freudian-slip"
I suppose now I see how much you dislike Bill Bennett, so maybe you meant it. But it is hard to have the idea of "he didn't mean it" with "Freudian slip" in the same sentence. By definition, a Freudian slip means accidentally saying what you DO actually mean.

At 8:52 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

i know what freudian slip means. what i meant was, he exposed his racism with the freudian slip, so his racism was what overshadowed his distaste for abortion. i wasnt saying he isnt racist, i was saying that he wasnt trying to put down blacks.

At 8:55 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

And simply because you "ALREADY ADDRESSED AND DISMISSED YOUR BULLSHIT EXCUSES" does not mean "case closed."

Kathy's comment was directly in line with my original post, but your reaction proves exactly why I do no argue about abortion with anyone: No one will EVER change anyone else's opinion. EVER. My post was about Bill Bennett -- I made an unfortunate decision to extend the argument a little.

But as for this thread: case closed.

Please, if anyone else wants to comment, I would appreciate it if you stick to the topic of my original post, which, though it mentioned abortion, did not get into the morality of it, and was made in contect of Bennett's comments.

I appreciate people's passionate views, and of course I would never censor someone's thoughts, but please respect my desire to not turn this blog into an abortion debate. If you want to start an abortion debate, do so elsewhere.

Tom, I respect your opinion and your passion, and I can see I struck a harsh chord with you. That was not my intent.

I'm leaving it at that.

At 8:57 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

As for the Freudian slip debate -- got it. I misunderstood what you were saying. Again, case closed.

At 8:59 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

And that was weird that you called me John. Not bad weird. I htought you were talking to Johnny V at first, and I was confused.

At 1:29 AM, Blogger P "N" K posited...

"Kathy's comment was directly in line with my original post, but your reaction proves exactly why I do no argue about abortion with anyone: No one will EVER change anyone else's opinion. EVER."

Can the choir hear a loud AMEN to that.

Honestly, in activities such as student congress, the "big three" topics that would elicit groans from 95% of the participants were always

a) abortion
b) death penalty
c) gay marriage

because coherent discussion wasn't remotely possible. One iota might as well have been a dissertation. Here Dub, you and I completely agree. I absolutely refuse to discuss abortion with anyone who doesn't agree with me. Now, in the past I've been hit with snide remarks about how "you're afraid to hear the truth" or something equivalent, but in reality, I'm afraid to waste my time on so much useless oxygen.

One final point though...

Adopting South Korean babies deserves a big thumbs up. Seriously. Like 2 thumbs up repeatedly.

At 4:06 AM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

No doubt. Unless they are deformed babies, born without thumbs. Then, no thumbs up.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Manda posited...

"Unless they are deformed babies, born without thumbs. Then, no thumbs up."

That is why, Wanninger, you might just be the funniest person I know. Sick...But funny.

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Tay posited...

i laughed out loud at that. kudos wanninger.

At 10:18 PM, Blogger John McAdams posited...

Planned Parenthood Advocates Abortion to Reduce Crime

And the bizarre thing is that Bennett, who explicitly rejects abortion, is under attack.

At 12:25 PM, Anonymous graham posited...

Hey there Coach Dub et al,

I completely agree with Kathy, that the religious right anti-abortion movement just wants to criminalize abortion, but they don't want to actually try and stop it from occurring. To do that, they would have to compromise their outlandish belief that human beings should not be having sex except in the context of trying to procreate.

Sorry folks, but that's just not going to happen. People have been having sex outside of marriage since the dawn of time (up to and exceeding when marriage was created as a means by which men could legally own and subjugate women and their interests), and they're damned well not going to stop just because some school marm types, with their little bifocal glasses sliding to the end of their pointy hateful little noses shake their fingers in disappointment.

Right-wing conservatives for some reason only care about children while they are still in the womb. Once they're out, they're on their own!

Born into a poor family? Tough cookies, little girl... work hard and see if you can get by!

And sahib, what about compassion for the mother? You speak of compassion for an unborn child that has no consciousness or any real existence for all intents and purposes, but you are not considering the burden of motherhood on a woman who is either not ready for it, doesn't want it, or doesn't want the stigma of being a pregnant single woman in a society that would sooner spit on her than help her out.

The deep problem here is that conservatives and, yes, Republicans, seem to only care about them and theirs. Everyone else can either succeed or go to hell--we don't really care! Just don't come around our nice neighborhoods if you're black, poor, or looking for help.

I recently wrote about many of these same issues at my own site in an article entitled The Importance of Being Partisan. You might find it interesting.

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous graham posited...

Oh and to be on topic, Bill Bennett's comments, I think, can't be construed as racist. He was citing a ridiculous position that he didn't, or doesn't, I believe, agree with. Not because he's anti-abortion, but I think that even though he's an uncaring and unsympathetic fellow, I still believe that he is a somewhat principled person and in no way would endorse a racial holocaust that his comments suggested.

Still, he should apologize for the offense his comments caused, but he can still maintain that he didn't mean to suggest that all black babies be aborted. Because, really, he didn't.

At 7:35 PM, Blogger Houley posited...

I've come a little late.

All I have to say on this subject (though I could go on at length) is that the problem ALWAYS comes back to the society in which we live. Something needs to change in the fundamental basics of our country - in the hearts of the people, rather than in the abstract and impractical laws that our elected officials pass on a daily basis.

My solution is to elect Coach Stolski on the platform of "The Warrior Way," so that we could all learn self-discipline and the wishbone offense.

Also on that note, I got your bracelet, Wanninger. I'll get it to you somehow...

At 7:51 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

But if we lived by the Warrior Way, wouldn't that mean we would always lose? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Josh posited...



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