Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Updated Update: Bennett and Gibson

Back to the Bennett incident. Eugene Robinson offers a good editorial on the subject. He observes,

If he was citing Levitt's work [Freakonomics], Bennett could have said that to lower the crime rate "you could abort every white baby" or "you could abort every Hispanic baby" or "you could abort every Asian baby," since every group has unwanted, poor children being raised by single mothers.

So now that we have Bennett on the couch, shouldn't we conclude that he mentioned only black children because, perhaps on a subconscious level, he associates "black" with "criminal''?

Robinson also hosted a chat online that can be read here.

Meanwhile, Slate’s science writer William Saletan has a fantastic article on Bennett as well, exploring the actual science and research behind all the claims being thrown around about crime, abortion, and race. He also considers and quite authoritatively dismisses all the key claims made in defense of Bennett. It’s a great read. The paragraph that stunned me the most was:

So, where did Bennett get the idea? [Fox News’ John] Gibson blames "all those arguments white liberals have with white conservatives about abortion, in which the white liberal eventually defends his pro-abortion position by saying, 'Well, they'll just grow up poor and be criminals anyway.' " Really? I've heard a lot of white liberals talk about abortion, and I've never heard one of them say that.

Wow. My apologies for running with this slight tangent, as Gibson rears his insensate head again and just spouts inanity. He follows up an ineffective attempt to change the subject with an unconvincing argument. I’d only read some of Gibson’s comments prior to seeing the video I linked to in the earlier Bennett post, so I have a newfound awe for his plummeting intellect. Currently, he’s my leading contender for Idiot News Commentator of the Year (Idiot of the Year is a competitive race this year, however, so it’s unlikely that Gibson can win more than his admittedly distinguished subcategory). With folks like Gibson, I have to wonder if he actually believes what he’s saying or if he’s aware he’s bullshitting. I think he just makes most of it up as he goes along, since he seems to pull one unpersuasive lie after another out of his ass. (I expect a higher caliber of liar from the prestigious Fox News, Mr. Gibson!) Gibson seems fond of an argument pattern often employed by George Bush, the Straw Man argument, where one props up a weak counterargument to pummel, such as the idea that “some people” want to give comfort to terrorists. However, in both their cases they can’t seem to find anyone who actually holds the view they want to deride, so they just make up a Straw Man. We can further call this the Invented Straw Man argument. In a variation of the old news conference axiom that a speaker answers the question he wishes he’d been asked, with the Invented Straw Man the speaker attacks the view he wishes his opponent had. Thus, we are introduced to the mythical liberals who wish to give comfort to terrorists and abort the fetuses of poor couples since it’s inevitable that if born those children will grow up to be criminals... which would mean we might as well lower the social program spending we all know diehard liberals despise... Wait.

Since we’re talking about unfair debate techniques, it must be pointed out that I’m engaging in some ad hominem attacks on Gibson... although of course I’m not just saying he’s an idiot, I’m stating why he’s an idiot. Frankly, I think the political cartoonist approach is the best — when someone offers you hogwash, the best response is to laugh at them, the louder and longer the better.

1 comment:

J. said...

What the hey? There is nothing wrong with saying Gibson is an idiot. He is.

The telling thing to me is that Bennett's defenders can't get it through their heads that there's something wrong with using 'black babies' in an example of how to reduce crime. They take scapegoating blacks for the country's problems so much for granted, they can't understand why anyone else wouldn't.

-- Mac Diva