Friday, September 30, 2005

Bill Bennett explains, and of course, it's all better now

I find Bill Bennett's response to the outcry over his comments about aborting black babies interesting, because he still doesn't really seem to understand what was wrong about what he said.

You can read a transcript of the discussion that lead to the remark here. He basically says you could reduce crime by aborting black babies but that it would be reprehensible. It's sort of unclear what his position is; it is clear that he's thinking off the top of his head and isn't expressing himself very well.

His response to the uproar was to say: "I was pointing out that abortion should not be opposed for economic reasons, any more than racism or for that matter slavery or segregation should be supported or opposed for economic reasons," he said. "Immoral policies are wrong because they are wrong, not because of an economic calculation. One could just as easily have said you could abort all children and prevent all crime, to show the absurdity of the proposition."

The problem is, he didn't say all babies, he didn't say hispanic babies, or asian babies, or white babies, or Muslim babies, or Christian babies, or whatever. He said black babies. And what he needs to explain is, why is that the first thing that popped into his head, that specifically aborting black babies would lower the crime rate. Because saying aborting all babies is a very different concept altogether.

Now, one often says dumb things extemporaneously, but now that he's had time to think about it, why isn't Bennett saying, "actually, that was a dumb thoughtless thing to say. Clearly, crime is not simply a balck thing but a part of our society with many complex causes and I was wrong to single out a particular race to make my point." But if he did say that, neither the Washington Post nor the New York Times made note of it. If I'm wrong and he really did say that let me know and I'll give him props for it.

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