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September 30, 2005

Comments

Jack

I don't know if it was Heinlein who wrote it first, but I know he at least repeated it, "Stupidity is a crime with the punishment of death, meted out by Mother Nature."

So...

Bennet set himself up as the arbiter of morality (just see his book!).

His statement was morally repugnant.

The math is ridiculously easy, yet the aftereffects are the product of the society we have chosen to accept and endorse.

Daniel

See, I don't take his statement being morally repugnant so much as painfully ill-reasoned. He thought he was being Socratic when he was just engaging in the kind of base rhetoric that doesn't go over even after a few Scotches. He is incredibly stupid and if I were a conservative, I would pin him as an embarassment to the cause.

Vavoom

I'm appalled by Bennett's faulty logic and racist sentiments. Is he racist? It appears so. He made a monumentally stupid remark with overt racial overtones. There are many occasions where certain racial groups are offended by not so offensive matters. This situation is different. African Americans have every right to be angry with his statement.

What's upsetting is that Bennett isn't about to back down. Rather, he's playing the "I'm a victim of misrepresentation" card. Give me a break. The guy's a fool. I held that opinion of him long ago.

Incidentally, Valerie Solanas was prejudiced not racist, right? She advocated violence against men. Her advocacy was not based on any one particular race, correct? Gender based discrimination is prejudicial, not racial. I'm not trying to bicker, I just want to make sure we're on the same page.

Daniel

Hmmm.

So prejudice is not as repugnant as racism? Why? Taking Solanas' advocacy of the elimination of men, for instance, she reasoned that because most (some would say all) rapes are perpetrated by men, that the solution would be to kill all the men. Now, one may say that that isn't as "bad" as wanting to eliminate a race, but why?

Most crimes are commited by men. Would anybody be up in arms if Bennett postulated that if you want to reduce the crime rate you should abort all male babies? I suspect that most people would say that he was a fool, but no one would be calling for his head.

I agree (see my post) that Bennett is a fool. And stupid. He pretends to have this keen intellect when in fact he's inarticulate, nothing more than a bloated ego and a small mind. He tried a bit of logical slight-of hand and he couldn't handle it, because he's stupid.

I have often seen this same type of thing done well. You take a person's argument and then take it to its most absurd conclusion to illustrate how wrong the original proposal was. It is a rhetorical tool when used deftly, when the person using this tool isn't up to the task, it comes off as a ham-handed attempt.

In an email Jack pointed out for me Hanlon's Razor:
"Never ascribe to malevolence what can be explained by
stupidity."

Jack

The problem with reductio ad absurdum arguments is that in the wake of a history filled with genocide, whether government sponsored or "home grown", little reprehensible behavior seems to fall beyond the pale any more, and the supposed reduction to absurdity instead appears to resemble a policy that has been implemented in the past and could again be reality in the future.

A sad commentary of our age.

Vavoom

Daniel: Take another look at my comment. Nowhere did I even imply that prejudice is any less repugnant than racism. I merely point out that Solanas is prejudiced, not racist. I thought you, the man that enjoys discussions about language and appreciates semantic rigor, would appreciate that.

Yes, people would also be enraged if Bennett suggested that all male babies should be aborted. Of course, his comment would have been written off as a crackpot. No one, in recent history, has made a serious run at destroying the male population. Genocidal activity, however, is well represented in our modern history texts. It's about a perceived versus real threat. Anyone suggesting the death of people based on their race should be taken seriously, given mankind's penchant for carrying out such activities. Given societal concerns about race Bennett really should think before he speaks.

Look at it this way -- 20 years ago, if Osama bin Laden proclaimed that he would like to wipe out the American population, would be take him seriously? Of course not. We take such threats seriously now since we know that the threat is real. Crushing the male population is not percieved as a real threat. The systematic extermination of a group of people based on their race is a threat people deem real. That makes no sense, right? Racism isn't real in this country. What are they thinking? Gosh those silly, sensitive people. Didn't they see that Bennett was foolishly attempting to prove a point through contradiction?

People are sensitive about race for a reason, the same reason we are all sensitive about terrorism.

Here's a poignant question -- do you think the African American population is to blame for this country's crime rate? I'm just curious.

Daniel

No, I don't think that African Americans are to "blame." The statistics show that more crime is committed by African Americans. That is fact. Trying to affix blame would be opinion, or at least argument. Frankly, I believe that institutionalized dependency (which I take as a form of racism, e.g. black people can't take crae of themselves) is to blame. Further into our past, this institutionalized dependency came from a well-meaning attempt to right the wrongs that were committed against blacks in this country.

I am working on a new post about racism. I don't think I ever said that racism isn't real, I just said that his isn't an example of it. Once again, Bennett was not advocating a position. He was illustrating the absurdity of a particular argument. And V, it really is uncomfortable to defend a man like Bennett, who has set himself up as a moral arbiter for the nation. There are many more charges that fit. Let's focus on the ones that are true. When every charge can be made, none of them hold much weight anymore.

Actually, I was asking a question whether you thought racism was worse than prejudice, not making an accusation. I wanted to get your thinking, because many people do in fact see several types of prejudice as having a hierarchy. I still don't know if you do or not, so I'll wait for your answer.

Honestly, I believe that when certain subjects are proscribed there is little that can be done with them. Everybody can agree (most of us at least) that racism of all types should be obliterated. And in time, I hope, it will. But this to me is the wrong fight. It's like the whole "refugee" versus "evacuee" nonsense that we heard after Katrina.

No one, except for the most disgusting among us, is advocating for genocide in this country. Read my new post; I have some more thought on this.

Vavoom

I find racism and prejudice equally upsetting. I do understand, however, why the hierarchy exists. People develop a differential response. That response is dictated by their daily experiences. Racism is more pandemic, hence it wears on them more. That's my opinion... I can't back that up with hard data.

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