Saturday, October 01, 2005

A non-apology NON-apology!

I haven't commented on Bill Bennett's remarks the other day that have caused a stir is various corners. I've got mixed feelings about them. On the one hand, what he said is, demographically speaking, not debateable. On the other hand, a smart guy (a Bennett's a very smart guy) has got to know what the reaction to that kind of statement will inevitably be.

Well, Bennett himself has responded to the criticism, with the kind of statement we need to see from more people in responding to the politically-correct, don't-speak-the-truth-if-it-offends-someone pop culture of modern America.

Statement By Bill Bennett, Sep. 30, 2005
From the Desk of William J. Bennett September 30, 2005

"On Wednesday, a caller to my radio show proposed the idea that one good argument for the pro-life position would be that if we didn't have abortions, Social Security would be solvent. I stated my doubts about such a thesis, as well as my opposition to such a form of argument (the audio of the call is available at my Website:

"I then stated that such extrapolations of this argument can cut both ways, and cited the current bestseller, Freakonomics, which discusses the authors' thesis that abortion reduces crime.

"Then, putting my philosophy professor's hat on, I went on to reveal the limitations of such arguments by showing the absurdity in another such argument, along the same lines. I entertained what law school professors call 'the Socratic method' and what I would hope good social science professors still use in their seminars. In so doing, I suggested a hypothetical analogy while at the same time saying the proposition I was using about blacks and abortion was 'impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible,' just to ensure those who would have any doubt about what they were hearing, or for those who tuned in to the middle of the conversation.

"The issues of crime and race have been on many people's minds, and tongues, for the past month or so--in light of the situation in New Orleans; and the issues of race, crime, and abortion are well aired and ventilated in articles, the academy, the think tank community, and public policy. Indeed the whole issue of crime and race is not new in social science, nor popular literature. One of the authors of Freakonomics, himself, had an extended exchange on the discussion of these issues on the Internet some years back--which was also much debated in the think tank community in Washington.

"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.

"In sum, let me reiterate what I had hoped my long career had already established: that I renounce all forms of bigotry--and that my record in trying to provide opportunities for, as well as save the lives of, minorities in this country stands up just fine."

I love it. Absolutely love it. No groveling, no apologizing. No "sorry if anyone was offended." Just the facts.

Bravo, Dr. Bennett!

* Full Disclosure Alert *

I'm a fan of Dr. Bennett's, have been for 20 years. I've got his books on my shelves. But there's more. One of his roles now is that he's the President of K12, an on-line curriculum which is widely used in the charter and home school communities. We are using the K12 curriculum with our kids, and my wife is a contractor representing the company, so we have a financial stake in one of Dr. Bennett's projects. I don't believe that any of that has influenced my reactions to this episode at all, but there it is anyway...



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