A Voice in the Wilderness - Observations and Excursions of a Christian Zealot

Terry Walker's Weblog --- Occasional articles on the Christian Ethic

Friday, July 01, 2005

How to reduce crime?

Statistics say:
“Kill the criminal before he grows up to commit a crime!”

The other night, well past Jay Leno and before daylight, I found myself awake for some unknown reason. The last time this happened I turned on the TV to discover America was at war, so with curiosity I turned on the TV. Through the horrific reception I watched a news program, such as nightline or 20/20, and what the guest speaker had to say horrified me. It reminded me of a Tom Cruise movie I saw some years back called “Minority Report.” In the movie Tom plays a futuristic cop who nabs people who will, in the future, commit murder. Mind you the criminals haven’t actually committed the crime yet, but through the use of three sedated, immobile, diviners of the future, Tom is able to foretell who will commit murder in the future and arrest the bad guys before they do the dirty deed. Murder, as a result, ceases to be committed. The movie fails to mention how society might respond with morality to such severe punishment. Under the old covenant, a rebellious child who dishonored his parents was to be stoned. With such severe punishment, it was unlikely that this crime was widespread, as Jews are still around to this day.

The guest speaker on the program was Steve D. Levitt, Professor of the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago, and co-author of “Freakonomics”, which currently is number three on the New York Times best-seller list. The wildly popular book, co-written by journalist Stephen J. Dubner, contains supposedly solid evidence to support all types of claims concerning economic and social trends.

In the book “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything”, the two Steve’s impose their statistical prowess on all sorts of subjects such as sumo wrestling, teacher performance, teenage drug use, gun ownership, gangs, crime rates, and they propose various causes for the trend changes in such things.

Steve Levitt has appeared on The Today Show, The Daily Show with John Stewart, and The O'Reilly Factor in addition to the show I watched. But that is not all; Steve Levitt recently received an award as the best American economist under 40 and recently was interviewed by Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Mr. Robertson, of 700 club fame, couldn’t get enough of Mr. Levitt and even said of Steve’s book, “This is a tremendous read. If you want to have some fun this summer, read “Freakonomics”.”

So if Pat Robertson liked this guy’s book, what could cause me to be so outraged and horrified? Because Steve Levitt claims that legalized abortion reduces crime rate. In case you didn’t catch it, I will say it again:

Legalized abortion reduces crime rate

Of course that is my wording, so let me use Steve’s own words directly from the abstract of his own paper "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime."1

---- Abstract -----
We offer evidence that legalized abortion has contributed significantly to recent crime reductions. Crime began to fall roughly 18 years after abortion legalization. The 5 states that allowed abortion in 1970 experienced declines earlier than the rest of the nation, which legalized in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. States with high abortion rates in the 1970s and 1980s experienced greater crime reductions in the 1990s. In high abortion states, only arrests of those born after abortion legalization fall relative to low abortion states. Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime.

But Steve’s abstract is filled with legalese, and is written specifically for factual purposes, so let us look at a time when he is freer to express himself, like during his Pat Robertson interview when he was asked the following question: (taken directly from the interview transcript @ http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/news/050701a.asp)

There was a dramatic drop in crime that took place roughly 20 years after Roe versus Wade. You looked at all of the factors that limit crime, and what was your conclusion?

I want to be clear. In no sense, are we advocating abortion - this is not about whether abortion is right or wrong. We are simply trying to look at the social manifestations. We found that abortion was one of the three factors that seems to have reduced crime in the 1990s. And the logic of that is simple. There were a huge number of abortions performed in the 70s – about a million a year. And only three million children are born in this country each year. And, the kind of women who were opting for abortion tended to be young women, single women – women who didn’t feel they could take care of their children. So then you fast-forward 20 years, and those children simply were not there. They hadn't grown up to be the criminals. And that’s the logic of our argument, which we support with data. But I can't caution enough that in no way are we trying to advocate abortion, or saying it is right or wrong. We are just trying to understand why crime fell, and not spend a lot of public resources on things that maybe didn't work. But people are claiming credit for it.

In his answer Mr. Levitt goes out of his way to say that he is, in no sense, is advocating abortion. Could it be that his cautious wording was due to the fact that he was speaking to a man seen by many in this country as a Christian leader? On the show I was watching on July 7th, Mr. Levitt never mentioned a single word of caution concerning “not advocating abortion”, or “social manifestations”, and he never said a word concerning God’s law, right and wrong or even civil morality. No, Mr. Levitt doesn’t climb out on a limb to actually speak what his statistics say loud and clear; and his statistics indicate that:

Primarily because of legalized abortion, 10,000,000 (that’s 10 million), aborted fetuses of ‘70s women, 30% of an entire decade of children, a future generation, never grew up to become criminals and commit crimes, thankfully, effectively reducing the crime rate in a cost efficient manner.

And Steve Levitt does not see the need to speak as to whether this is right or wrong! But as a Christian I must, and so I will.

Mr. Levitt and all my fellow Americans, you and I mourned the loss of thousands of American lives on September 11, 2001. Our lives were inexplicably changed by this grievous loss of innocent life. It was indeed a crime against humanity in this country. But when I deeply consider “legalized abortion effectively reduces crime” I can think of nothing but Hypocrisy! An oxymoron! Abortion is a crime, perhaps not a criminal crime, but it is a crime against Jesus Himself. You are destroying a living soul creating in His very image. Why, by participating in this very crimeless crime you are committing crime. You are swift to shed blood! By the use of these very statistics and the conclusions they support, one could justify the taking of innocent life. “Better to have an abortion than to chance raising a criminal.” This is wrong in the strongest sense of wrong, it is sin, in fact, the word sin does not do this sin justice. We need a stronger word like “abomination”.

Erik Rudolph sought to reduce crime. He sought to reduce the injustice of legalized murder by committing the very act he chose to reduce. Do we rationalize his murder because the end justifies the means? No, Erik was just as wrong, and his actions no more reflect Christ than does the actions of people participating in abortion.

But I want to be clear, in no sense, am I advocating the killing of guilty abortionist doctors who commit American genocide. But I also will do what Steve Levitt will not. I will say whether this is right or wrong. Abortion does not reduce crime, it increases it. You, Steve, are simply not counting the obvious, as 10,000,000 women across America committed murder in the ‘70s, killing their children, sacrificing the innocent ones in the fire for the gods they idolize, … themselves. This is detestable to God and is a crime against His Son.

We as Americans are horrified, fearful and even angry at the terrorists that attacked the Twin Towers and killed a few thousand of our countrymen. And our British allies are mourning the loss of perhaps a hundred of their own. But I count these deaths nothing compared to the outright slaughter, and the shedding of innocent blood of an unborn generation of human souls. We as Americans should not be fearful of Muslim extremists, but of the righteous, holy God, Who has the power to cast us all into Hell. We all need to rip our clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes on our heads and repent, repent of our complacency, repent of our inaction, repent of our sins! You need not waste time finding suitable ashes, just fall to your knees, confess and repent to God.

America, if you want to fight terrorism, look in the mirror and see the enemy, it is us! We commit genocide without blinking an eye and we justify it with this! A reduced crime rate! My 44 mag. reduces crime; I have never been robbed with it strapped to my shoulder. More Americans own guns than ever before, but perhaps Steve didn’t count the effects of increasing gun ownership on crime. Just ask the women of Florida, who before a serial rapist was caught, purchased firearms in droves, by the thousands, and rape nearly vanished, because a bullet tends to discourage rape. But if guns were the answer then perhaps Erik Rudolph had an effective way to solve a problem.

But I am a Christian and anger and vengeance has no place in my life, nor even in my thoughts. For Christians our weapon is not the gun, but the sword, the sword of the Gospel, preached with knowledge, love and fervency. Not with complacence or tolerance, as the Gospel, preached properly, divinely divides, and is sharper than a two edged sword.

So let us not stand for this outrageous silent statistical justification for murder, rather let us stand fast for the truth of what is right and holy and pure. As for you, Pat Robertson, I cannot believe that you would encourage Steve Levitt by saying, “Thank you for the work you are doing. I hope you write more like this. This is a tremendous read. If you want to have some fun this summer, read “Freakonomics.” It is number three on the New York Times best-seller list.” Perhaps you have strayed too far from your Father to remember His book, you know, - the Bible - , the book that has endured centuries of time, and will continue to long after Steve Levitt’s book, and all the people who unwisely followed it’s assumptions, find their proper place – in Hell!

If you disagree with Steve Levitt and his assumptive conclusions concerning abortion and its effects on crime, please feel free to send him an e-mail or a letter at:

Steve D. Levitt
Department of Economics,
University of Chicago
1126 East 59th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637
Telephone: (773) 834-1862
Fax: (773) 702-8490
Email: slevitt@midway.uchicago.edu

Better yet pray for him, that God might open his eyes to his need for a Savior or a new purpose in life, that neither guns, nor abortion reduces a man’s desire to commit a crime, but rather the Lord Jesus Christ alone has the power and ability to change a man’s desire to swiftly shed blood. Only Jesus can change the stony heart of a man who would even think that murder is an effective means to reduce murder.

Brother Terry Walker
Providence Baptist Church
Greer, South Carolina

1 "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime." NBER Website. Thursday, July 07, 2005 file:///C:/terry/The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime.pdf