Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Why I Care About John Lott

Readers of my weblog have probably noticed I don't talk a lot about guns. There are a couple reasons I don't - one is that I don't know much about them. Another is that I'm definitely not "anti-gun" in any sense of the word, though I'm sure I'd probably support many measures that would have me branded as such by the gun crowd. A third is that any discussion of the topic inevitably sends not one but many Mary Rosh-types over and it isn't worth the effort.

As for thinking Lott is somehow payback for Bellesiles - well, I never read Bellesiles' book. I think I looked at the blurb on the cover once and thought "oh, that's interesting" but that was the extent of my exposure - or interest - in the book. I never actively defended him - or wanted to - as it wasn't something I knew a thing about. I was a bit troubled that it seemed that it wasn't enough to destroy the guy's career - probably deserved - but that his detractors were intent on destroying the man. I was a bit turned off by the continuing spectacle, which I mostly saw through blogs, and I probably agree with the sentiments expressed by Sullywatch in comments:

We forget now how much there was an all-out effort (kind of like a certain recent special prosecution) to throw anything they could find at Bellsiles until it stuck, and finally one thing relatively marginal to the whole thesis of the book did. There were death threats, evil hatemails and goonish thugs attending his lectures. It was all about making sure that no one would dare ask certain questions ever again than it was about maintaining academic integrity.

And then there was the sound of a million backs slapping themselves afterwards, from Knoxville to Evanston, loudly and repeatedly.

And they expect us to just forget we ever witnessed this spectacle?

Though I never really followed the issue closely, I did note one thing - that Bellesiles' detractors were invariably big fans of John Lott's book. Now, I'd never read the book. I had read enough criticisms of it to know it was a piece of a propaganda with some really shoddy and sometimes clearly dishonest work. But, it wasn't something I ever focused on enough to have anything to say about it. Besides, I didn't want to have the Mary Roshes scurrying over to bug me. Still, I was always a bit amused that the sanctimonious Bellesiles bashers were simultaneously propping up the dishonest Lott.

The real reason I care about John Lott is that the man testified to congress about the patterns of disenfranchisement in Florida during the 2000 election. The work was so hideously obviously deliberately dishonest, as Dr. Lichtman easily demonstrates, that the man obviously has no ethics. In fact, his willingness to present disinformation to cover up the disenfranchisement of voters makes him anti-democratic and anti-American as far as I'm concerned, and his willingness to try and cover up the disenfranchisement of black voters makes him a bigot.