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Bennett Apologizes for Remarks, Asks to Roll “Double or Nothing”

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Las Vegas, NV – Disgraced political commentator and former professional scold William Bennett called a press conference today to apologize for suggesting, on his radio show last Wednesday, 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.”

The apology surprised many, coming just after Bennett’s combative remarks on Friday, when he was asked by CNN if he owed people an apology and replied, “I don’t think I do. I think people who misrepresented my view owe me an apology.”

“It was a simple reductio ad absurdum based on statistical probabilities,” Bennett explained today.  “And what’s more, I didn’t say it was a dead certainty.  I said I’d give you 7 to 2 that aborting black babies would reduce crime.  Hell, I’d even give you 4 to 1.  I’d drop a couple hundred thou on that proposition in a heartbeat.”

Champion of Civil Rights

“I’m not racist, and I’ll put my record up against theirs,” Bennett had said on Friday, referring to Nancy Pelosi and other critics. “I’ve been a champion of the real civil rights issue of our times—equal educational opportunities for kids.”

Over the weekend, however, this account was disputed by former Federal Communications Commission chairman Reed Hundt, who wrote in TPM Cafe:

When I was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (1993-97), I asked Bill Bennett to visit my office so that I could ask him for help in seeking legislation that would pay for internet access in all classrooms and libraries in the country. Eventually Senators Olympia Snowe and Jay Rockefeller, with the White House leadership of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, put that provision in the Telecommunications Law of 1996, and today nearly 90% of all classrooms and libraries do have such access. The schools covered were public and private. So far the federal funding (actually collected from everyone as part of the phone bill) has been matched more or less equally with school district funding to total about $20 billion over the last seven years. More than 90% of all teachers praise the impact of such technology on their work. At any rate, since Mr. Bennett had been Secretary of Education I asked him to support the bill in the crucial stage when we needed Republican allies. He told me he would not help, because he did not want public schools to obtain new funding, new capability, new tools for success. He wanted them, he said, to fail so that they could be replaced with vouchers, charter schools, religious schools, and other forms of private education.

In response to Hundt, Bennett insisted today that he was merely “placing a side bet” on charter schools and religious schools, having been offered “a great tip” from Republican lawmakers who had assured him that they would “take out” America’s public schools “in the seventh round or earlier.”

Moral philosopher

Bennett has a long history of gambling on provocative moral issues, going back to 1989 when he suggested that there was a 6 to 1 chance that Thomas Aquinas would support the beheading of drug dealers, but only a 3 to 2 chance that St. Augustine would “want to be in on the action.” More recently, in 2000, he made headlines for insisting that George Bush’s 1976 DUI conviction was “no big deal” unless “he was on the wrong side of the .2 blood-alcohol-level over/under, ‘cause I had him under.”

Bennett closed his remarks today by asking the American people for a second chance.  “One more time, double or nothing,” Bennett pleaded.  “I just need one more shot.  I’m not ready to cash in my chips just yet, people.  Here.  Let me tell you how far the crime rate would fall if we aborted babies from Spanish-speaking households.  Twenty percent, I’m saying, and you give me a ten percent margin of error either way.  Eighteen to twenty-two.  Let it roll.  All in.  Daddy needs a new pair of shoes.”

Posted by on 10/03 at 12:19 PM
  1. And this from a guy who once had a date with Janis Joplin. Careful research would reveal, no doubt, that Joplin’s heroin addiction began shortly after the dinner she had with Bennett.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  01:59 PM
  2. Michael,

    Is it really likely that Bennett stated to an FCC chairman that he “wanted” public schools “to fail”?  One can imagine him saying he wanted failing public schools to be shut down, or that he thinks the current system that regulates hiring, curriculum, etc., should be scrapped, or that giving support to technology in low-performing schools is a poor use of funds. But Bennett surely knows that there are thousands of public schools that are quite good, and it is doubtful that he wants them to fail.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  02:01 PM
  3. Mark, isn’t that a question for Reed Hundt?  I don’t see any reason to dispute his account.  Did Bennett, in fact, support that provision of the Telecommuncations Bill?  Did Hundt misrepresent the vote in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee, or Gingrich’s version of the bill in the House?  I’ve got all my chips on no and no, just for the record.

    And giving Internet access to “low-performing” schools is a poor use of funds?

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  02:20 PM
  4. 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.

    Quite politically incorrect, but unfortunately what he says here is true.

    What we neglects to mention is that this is statically true if you abort all of the babies in any ethnic group. Or just stop allowing people to procreate altogether, since it is generally the young who commit crimes. Or if you really want to take a bite out of crime, abort all of the babies born to single mothers under a certain income level (the group be statistically most prone to commit crimes). Fortunately I do not think any Republician is “tough on crime” enough to suggest this.

    Posted by Mark Earnest  on  10/03  at  02:21 PM
  5. Mark E., if you really want to take a bite out of crime—especially violent crime—just kill all the boy babies.  It’s really astonishing that in all this sensitive PC talk about which ethnic group we should hypothetically eradicate and which babies have a higher chance of becoming criminals, no one’s stopped to point out the obvious.

    I blame the patriarchy.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  02:29 PM
  6. Why stop there? I am in favor of killing anyone who is not me. This would ensure a crime rate of 0 (since I would basically be making all the laws at this point)

    The downside is that my weblog would even be more pretentious and pointless than it already is.

    Posted by Mark Earnest  on  10/03  at  02:35 PM
  7. Let’s review the conversation Bennett had with the caller.  The caller—and then Bennett—specifically rejects the Freakonomics thesis about abortion and the crime rate.

    Caller: “I don’t think that statistic is accurate.”

    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.”

    So Bennett DOESN’T think abortion reduces the crime-rate. . . unless you’re talking about black babies. Interesting.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  03:43 PM
  8. If you wanted to reduce crime, you wouldn’t attempt to buy votes with crack cocaine in Ohio like the Democrats did last November.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  04:16 PM
  9. True enough, WingNut.  Besides, as the stupid DemocRATS found out to their dismay, crack is the wrong drug for the job.  Crackheads just wander around all day looking for another hit.  You want to get people to the polls, it’s meth you want.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/03  at  04:36 PM
  10. I’d give you 1000-1 odds that if we could have aborted the entire Bush Administration, and certain GOP Congressional leaders, the crime rate would have gone WAY down.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  04:40 PM
  11. That would be an impossibly ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, Lefty.  But yes, the crime rate would go way, way down.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/03  at  04:46 PM
  12. Lefty: You are talking about corporate crime. That kind of crime isn’t bad, in fact it really shouldn’t be illegal at all. After all, a corporation is a legally recognized entity that by defination is supposed to persue profits at all costs. Why do we punish them for just doing what they are supposed to do?

    No, real crime is the kind of things that we saw in the aftermath of Katrina. You know, the widespread killing, raping, and shooting at emergency responders. Even though we are now learning that that vast majority of what was reported there did not actually happen, and was just a series of urban myths, it COULD have happened. We really need to tilt at that windmill rather than victimless, so called corporate crimes. Haliburton MUST be allowed to profit.

    Posted by Mark Earnest  on  10/03  at  04:46 PM
  13. But all that good crack the CIA sold in LA helped get a Repug mayor in place in several of the County’s cities so that they could support the building of that huge Commerce Casino that Bill loves so very much.  And well, having all those crackheads spinning out on the tracks lets the good white folks drive across the Telegraph bridge to the Casino without having to encounter them.. Now if only the LA river would rise up in one of its 100 year manifestations and send them all down stream to the toxic LA Harbor.  Bill could have so much easier time getting from LAX to the casino, knowing how much smaller the crime rate would be.  Oh damn, i forgot, the majority of folks on that side of the river are hispanics.  And since it is only blacks that would alleviate the crime rate through their demise, i guess he isn’t so safe--- 7-3 that his last card is a duece.

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  05:40 PM
  14. Mark- As for “corporate crime” I just watched the Godfather last night and they kept saying, “It isn’t personal, it’s just business” before whacking someone. Which leads me to realize that laws against murder are just another form of corporate regulation. If you really want to deregulate business, and encourage the entrepenurial spirit, revoke the laws on murder. Then you would have a real “laissez-faire” climate.

    Posted by Bob Davis  on  10/03  at  08:15 PM
  15. If Bennett’s afraid to show his face in _Cincinnati_, he must really be feeling the heat:

    The University of Cincinnati College Republicans are deeply disappointed to announce the speech by Dr. William J. Bennett scheduled for Tuesday, October 4 has been cancelled at Dr. Bennett’s request.  The University of Cincinnati College Republicans remain fully committed to re-scheduling Dr. Bennett’s speech for a date to be announced in the near future.  Included below is a statement from Dr. Bennett.

    Regards,

    Chairman
    University of Cincinnati College Republicans

    From the Desk of William J. Bennett
    October 3, 2005

    “The talk I was scheduled to deliver on the topic of “Politics, War, and Culture” on Tuesday the 4th will be postponed until next month, on a date to be announced shortly.  The current controversy that has arisen around comments I made on my radio show, based on a willful distortion of what I said, will take away from the serious discussion I want to engage in with the students and community at the University of Cincinnati.

    “A great amount of hard work has been put into this event by the University of Cincinnati College Republicans and I do not want that work to be diminished or nullified, but, rather, appreciated and realized.  I look forward to coming to the University of Cincinnati next month and continuing to work with University of Cincinnati College Republicans--to engage in the talk and discussion they and I envisioned when this event was planned at the outset.”

    can we all say, “aaaahhhh, poor Bill”

    Posted by  on  10/03  at  10:44 PM
  16. triozyg, thanks for the update.  The next question, of course, is whether the U of Cincinnati College Republicans replied by writing, “Bill, Never Gonna Give You Up” or “Bill, Never Never Gonna Give You Up.” Inquiring Astley/White-minded minds want to know.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/04  at  12:45 AM
  17. Actually, what Bennett said was “Eugenics is not really my racket.” he said. “I got JEB and Junior past-posting fifty dimes a night at the track so all the chalks and dogs are locks. Plus, he shys for me with a ten-point vig and Neil is banking bailouts at twenty—we’re juicing squares coming and going.”

    Bennett also noted that he has some major action beating spreads on shaved hoops and a tout service on the side, so what motherless f*** thinks he needs to churn with the fleas on some two-bit sucker’s game?

    Posted by the talking dog  on  10/04  at  01:09 PM
  18. St. Augustine was a 3 to 2?  Is Bennett really sure about this?  Which Augustine? The City of God Augustine would be more like 6 to 1.  The younger, new-agee Augustine would have been more like 3 to 2 against.

    Posted by Bulworth  on  10/04  at  02:13 PM
  19. Gotta read the fine print, Bulworth!  The line for St. Augustine supporting the beheading of drug dealers is the same as that of Aquinas, 6-1.  But actually jumping in and grabbing the ax himself?  That’s three to two.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/04  at  02:49 PM
  20. Maybe poor Bill is just suffering withdrawal after losing all his favorite Gulf Coast riverboat casinos?

    Posted by  on  10/04  at  02:56 PM

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