Sunday, May 28, 2006

Fear of Thought

Freakonomics, the book, was on the banned list in Chicago district 214. This book, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, is a collection of offbeat interpretations and thought experiments involving the implications of Market Capitalism. Some people like it. Some hate it.

Most books were on the banned list because of the usual issue of pornography, but Freakonomics was on the list for being controversial, for identifying an unpalatable truth. Among many other innovative ideas, it pushed forward the hypothesis that the decades long reduction in criminal activity is attributable to, not the extreme cleverness of police commissioners or criminologists, but rather the legalization of abortion. The possibility that all of the sophistry of law enforcement philosophy and doctrine is mere superstitious behavior, in the face of such a simple fact of life, is just monstrous. People can’t take it. The religious associations don’t help either. It reminds me of Evolution as an issue. I wonder if Darwin was on the list. Fortunately, loyal students and parents made a successful impassioned effort to overturn the unjust recommendation. This is a victory for reason, not a match for, but in kind with the thrashing of the school board in Dover, PA.

There are certainly grounds to argue with the proposition, but I would have hoped that we had passed the stage where an urban school district could be so doctrinaire and reactionary. For myself, I am inclined to believe the hypothesis. Nature or nurture? I am liberal enough that I prefer to credit nurture where possible. I am conservative enough that I believe fathers are important to the upbringing of children. Let me state it bluntly. Unwanted children and the resulting uncivilized adults are poisonous to society. There are exceptions, but for the most part, babies are vessels that become human souls in direct proportion to the love that is poured in.

What I just stated is a religious viewpoint. The proposition put forward by Freakonomics is a scientific hypothesis that, admittedly, hints at my viewpoint. The proposition can be tested scientifically and merits consideration in public education. My viewpoint, on the contrary, does not belong in a discussion of science,but neither proposal should be banned from a school library by some busybody with a list.

5/28/2006 2:47 PM

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