NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

FLAME ON - Is it not okay to entertain the ridiculous?
I'm sleep deprived and cranky, and today is going to be one of those days when y'all wonder why one of your most conservative Democrats is your virtual mouthpiece in this gang, but hey, you didn't oppose me in the race, so nyaaaaah.

I'm reading this op-ed by Richard Cohen at WaPo instead of finishing up the embryonic presentation I have to give in less than 90 minutes, because I like pressure. Cohen brings up the recent Bennett "abort crime" fiasco:
They then abandoned their party's tradition -- I would say "obligation" -- of defending unpopular speech by piling on William Bennett, the former education secretary, best-selling author and now, inevitably, talk show host.

Responding to a caller who argued that if abortion were outlawed the Social Security trust fund would benefit -- more people, more contributions, was the apparent (idiotic) reasoning -- Bennett said, sure, he understood what the fellow was saying. It was similar to the theory that the low crime rate of recent years was the consequence of high abortion rates: the fewer African American males born, the fewer crimes committed. (Young black males commit a disproportionate share of crime.) This theory has been around for some time. Bennett was not referring to anything new.

But he did add something very important: If implemented, the idea would be "an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do."

He should have saved his breath. Prominent Democrats -- Harry Reid in the Senate, John Conyers and Rahm Emanuel in the House and, of course, Pelosi -- jumped all over him. Conyers wanted Bennett suspended from his radio show. Emanuel said Bennett's comments "reflect a spirit of hate and division." Pelosi said Bennett was out of the mainstream, and Reid simply asked for an apology.

Actually, it is Reid and the others who should apologize to Bennett. They were condemning and attempting to silence a public intellectual for a reference to a theory.

I may make you question your spam filter for letting my newsletter through, but I wholeheartedly agree with Cohen and am rather disappointed in the misguided hysterics of our Democratic leaders, not to mention my favorite lesbian. When I first heard Bennett's remarks, it was on my morning ride to work listening to the Rachel Maddow podcast. I was knee-jerk outraged myself, but only because -- I may be wrong on this, but if memory serves -- the sound-byte did not include the "morally reprehensible" disclaimer. Man oh man, am I glad I didn't sit right down and blog about it as soon as I got in, because I would certainly become the King of Hypocrisy.

Why? Because my personal blog is nothing if not a testament to the ridiculous, preposterous, tongue-in-cheek and more often outright sarcastic. I thrive on the use of shock and hyperbole to provoke debate, to throw subtle patterns into sharp relief, and, of course, to garner an audience (which I assume is one thing Bennett keeps in mind as a radio personality).

He included a totally obvious disclaimer that no one on the left includes in their reactive rants. How is it that some of you can listen to Howard *&#%@! Stern without puking and yet go bonkers over Bennett? I'm honestly curious.

So that's my take. Chill the hell out. We ARE supposed to be the tolerant ones here. Your thoughts?
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posted by Aerodad at 10/04/2005 09:34:00 AM


Blogger Bobs said...

Here is where you are wrong. I was outraged by the statement, not because I believe Bennett really advocates aborting Black fetuses. What was ignorant and disgusting and unfortunately, all-too-common, is the notion that black babies are some how predisposed from birth to commit crime. Bennett said this as if it was common knowledge that black babies will grow up to be criminals. It is that belief, for which we have no reason to doubt Bennett's sincerity, that should outrage anyone with a social conscience.

10/04/2005 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Justice said...

I have to say I agree with Bobby. Of course we don't want to have over blown knee jerk reactions to out-of-context comments. And it is true that Bennett wasn't advocating abortion despite what some on the left are claiming. But he was saying that we can know an individual's propensity for crime before that person is even born solely based on the color of their skin. He said this twice. That statement seems morally and scientifically shaky to me.

10/04/2005 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Shelby said...

Morally and scientifically shaky, YES, if he was in fact asserting a causal relationship. But if he was, as is claimed, simply exploiting the statistics, then he is on solid ground. Just look up the crime rate figures at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm#cius

It is also true, as some of Bennett's defenders have pointed out, that if you eliminated all males, your crime rate would go down, 'cause we're a feisty testosterony lot, grr-snarl. However, if Bennett had said exactly that, I DOUBT our liberal echelons would have batted an eyelash. But mention race, and we instantly start throwing molotovs and trying to ride him out on a rail?

Maybe it's like Ingemar alluded to over at BfD (http://www.blogfordemocracy.org/archives/2005/10/white_peoples_b.html#more), that the real issue here is that we need to take a serious look at race ourselves, and our sensitivity comes from Bennett's remarks really striking a nerve under our own skin. Maybe we're so pissed off because WE feel like we have FAILED. How many years have progressives been fighting for equality and opportunity and STILL it is statistically accurate for Bennett to say such a horrible thing, and it is STILL a certain SES that takes it in the teeth when a hurricane strikes New Orleans?

The problem isn't foul-mouths like Bennett, THE PROBLEM IS THAT HE'S RIGHT. A black child today is I-don't-know-how-many times more likely (ballparking in the 5-10 range based on the numbers I saw on that FBI site) to grow up to be charged with a crime than a white child, NOT because they were born that way, DUH, but because WE STILL HAVEN'T BUILT THE KIND OF SOCIETY THAT CAN PROVIDE THE KIND OF OPPORTUNITY THEY NEED TO AVOID FALLING INTO CRIME.

Liberals need to stop screaming at Bennett and start figuring out how the hell to change the statistics to make his math WRONG. But hey, isn't this what "They" have been saying is wrong with out party? Too much whining, not enough working?

Don't look at me, I don't have the answer. You want a website, that's me. You want a turbine engine, that's me. Somebody who's an actual policy advocate PLEASE come forward.

10/04/2005 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Justice said...

Agreed. Liberals haven't solved the race problem and I would also aree that a lot of our anger and self-righteousness about comment's like Bennett's comes from sadness and guilt about our failure. I still think it's hurtful and unnecessary to say that if we eliminated a whole group of people based on their race we'd all be safer. Especially a group of people that others have, in the past, tried to eliminate and enslave. It's not the same thing as saying if we aborted all male fetuses we'd have less crime. No one is making men, as a group, feel invisible or outcast. That idea is absurd and reprehensible. No one would take it serious. However, suggesting the elimination of black babies strikes a nerve because it seems like our society is doing a pretty good job of that already. Yes, we all have a lot to do in terms of race relations, but it's not easy to get started when some of us don't even admit there is a problem. No wonder we get outraged when they make casual remarks about ethnic cleansing.

10/05/2005 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Bobs said...

While I agree with you, Shelby, there is no reason to believe that Bennett thinks the same way. In fact by his flip remark about aborting black babies, he is in fact making a causal relation between race and crime. He isn't saying black people commit crime at a higher rate because of institutional racism, poverty, etc. He is saying that their race is the factor behind crime. And that kind of thinking is not rare.

And Justice is of course right as well. History does have something to do with this. If millions of black people had not been murdered and enslaved for hundreds of years, this comment might not mean so much.

10/05/2005 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Shelby said...

Well, the real issue here is that I finally got what I wanted: COMMENTS ON THE BLOG! HUZZAH!

I knew if I came out and defended the ridiculous it might finally stir up some action. :-)

10/05/2005 12:55:00 PM  

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