Rush to Judgment
All this sorority bashing is getting so old (see the “Diary,” by Alison Spurgeon, sorority sister). Ironically, those who spout off the most about Greek life and conformity are just as guilty of it. Do people who are covered with piercings and tattoos really believe they are expressing their individuality? They are just as conformist; humans naturally gravitate toward groups and chances to belong to a larger whole.
Having been in a sorority and then working in government, nonprofits, and the corporate world, I find that Greek life was very representative of the “real world.” Every house has idiots, sluts, social climbers, and alcoholics. Every house also has geniuses, philanthropists, and varying kinds of campus leaders. There are brown-nosing and backstabbing and viciousness. There are also kindness and loyalty and real bonds that are developed between people. For someone like me, who hadn’t had very many close friendships with women, it was a truly beneficial experience, even if I hated a lot of what went on.
Leave It, Levitt
Steven Levitt is being extremely disingenuous when he claims that he takes no position on the public policy implications of his research (“Does Abortion Prevent Crime?“). Obviously crime is a bad thing, so if your research indicates a correlation between a social practice–abortion–and a reduction in crime, you are at a minimum implicitly advocating that practice with the minimum of legal restrictions.
Your analogy to global warming research points up the deceit. The impetus for research on global warming has come from those who believe that fossil fuel consumption is out of control and who reinforce their beliefs with global warming research, given everyone’s understanding that major man-made climatic change is a bad thing. No one is out there advocating global warming. Maybe your research is right, maybe it is wrong, but you undermine your credibility when you claim to be oblivious to its implications. You had to have a thesis going in when you started your research, and given that we already knew crime rates were falling, it is hard to believe you weren’t looking for a correlation between abortion and falling crime rates. Life is too short to use one’s career wandering in the dark, and no one is going to believe that’s what you did.
By all means, fight back on the eugenics attacks. That’s below the belt. I think it is perfectly respectable for you to use your results to say that all those who have been pointing to overall demographic shifts, or changing police tactics, or increasing incarceration rates are missing a key factor. But you are just waving a red flag to a bull when you cast attacks on others for supposedly misreading you altogether.
Lamar Alexander’s campaign never got off the ground because the American people can recognize a phony (“Sympathy for Lamar“). Alexander can and will mold himself into anything. As Bush’s secretary of education he was for “Break-the-Mold” schools. Earlier he had favored comprehensive schools. Now that people have turned against large government interventions, he wants to make every school a “charter school” with power vested in the parents and teachers. He says this will make our system the best. When Linda Wertheimer asked him, “How would we know?” there was a moment of glorious dead air.
Michael Lewis, interviewed about his book Trail Fever, observed that Alexander “did something I didn’t think possible in this campaign. He proved you could be too phony. This is why Clinton feared him most of all the candidates. He was so malleable. He even looks a little like putty.”
–Gerald W. Bracey