The View From 1776

Red vs. Blue Morality:  Figures don’t lie, but . . . .

The media ought to know by now that independent bloggers can figure out who is lying.

My friend Emil Pavone has contributed another chapter in the saga of misrepresentation about alleged Red-state immorality.  His earlier piece was Red-State vs Blue-State Morality.

Unfortunately I don’t have the capability on the website to post the graphic images of the charts, though the table sources are listed at the end of this article.  Please email me if you want to receive the graphic files, and I will try to email them to you.


It?s been said that figures don?t lie, but liars figure.?And often they lie even to themselves because they want so desperately to believe their erroneous conclusions.?Case in point: the massively misleading column by Andrew Sullivan,recently published by theSt. Petersburg Timesunder the headline,?Red state sinners, meet blue state saints.??The article, which probably appeared in other newspapers across the country as well,attempted to establish that morality is higher in blue states than red.

Without citing a single source for his claims, the author used fully half his column to compare divorce rates in red versus blue states, finding them higher in red.?He then selected just two states to compare on the issue of births to teens, finding such births more prevalent in a single red state than in a single blue state.?This selective example appears to have been the most damning he could find, for he then abandoned any effort to compare red states with blue and switched to a comparison of the U.S. with the Netherlands on the subject of abortion. Finally, he named a handful of prominent American conservatives whose personal lives may not have been exemplary, implying that they stand as examples of red state hypocrisy.?But the true hypocrite is Mr. Sullivan.

Consider divorces, examining the salient factors as listed in the latest edition of the official ?Statistical Abstract of the United States.??The divorce rate exceeded the national average in 21 of the 30 red states, but so did the marriage rate in 14 of them.?If there?s no marriage in the first place, as appears often to be the case in blue states, obviously the divorce rate is likely to be lower. No divorce is necessary to end the arrangement of a couple who live together without benefit of matrimony.

Consider births to teenage mothers (which Mr. Sullivan cited) and to unmarried women (which he did not), again referring to the ?Statistical Abstract.???U. S. births to teenagers have declined since 1990, dropping from 12.8 per thousand to 11.3.?But births to unmarried women have skyrocketed, soaring from 26.6 to 33.5.?15 of the 30 red states, 50%, exceeded the national average.?8 of the 20 blue states, 40%, exceeded the national average.?Is this the whole story??Hardly.?It fails to take account of that Third Rail of liberal journalism: race, when the facts cast an unfavorable light on an ethnic group.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention?s publication ?National Vital Statistics,? in 2002 a staggering 68.2% of births to non-Hispanic Black mothers were to unmarried women.?The U.S. average for births to unmarried non-Hispanic Whites was far lower at 23%.?Considered in the light of news reports that estimate as much as 89% of the Black vote went to the Democratic candidate, it appears that, even in the red states, the Black vote was very blue.?If red versus blue morality is to be judged by the type of criteria selected by Mr. Sullivan, it?s clear that lower standards occur in those areas, whether state or precinct-wide, that are aptly colored blue.

Had Mr. Sullivan checked the facts published by the U.S. Census Bureau, he would have learned that the red states of the South that he finds so immoral have large percentages of Black residents, that is, voters who largely cast their ballots for Democrats.?Had he checked the facts published in the ?Statistical Abstract,? he would have learned that this group leads in births to unmarried mothers, abortion, aids, syphilis, drug abuse and homicide.*?The story just isn?t very flattering to Democrats, whether in the blue states or red.

Is this an indictment of all Black Americans??Absolutely not.?Without a doubt, the great majority of them, including most of those who reflexively vote Democrat, are moral, decent people.?But it is an indictment of poverty, denial and substance abuse, which are so prevalent in the Black community that few families totally escape those scourges.?The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes the role of poverty, denial and substance abuse in its Fact Sheet on the subject.?Unfortunately, the government does not compile its statistics by poverty and education level.?If it did, it would very likely show the same results for the poorest and least educated members of all races.

So why doesn?t columnist Sullivan recognize the simple truth, that moral standards are indeed higher among the voters of the red states than they are among those of the blue??Some may construe it as devotion to a personal agenda, but ad hominem speculation is distasteful and contributes nothing to the discussion.?The fact is that Mr. Sullivan?s argument fails utterly because he is utterly wrong on the facts.?Ordinary Americans know the truth intuitively, and they?re intuition is correct: Red state morality is higher than blue.?Is this a reflection of political differences??Yes, in part, because the party positions reflect fundamental differences between urban and rural values.?



?????????Sources for all data cited in this letter are identified below. Copies of the actual pages from the U. S. Government publications bearing the cited data are available in *.jpg format.


1.?????Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003, Vital Statistics, Table No. 126, ?Marriages and Divorces?Number and Rate by State: 1990 to 2001?

2.?????Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003, Vital Statistics, Table No. 94, ?Low Birth Weight and Births to Teenage Mothers and to Unmarried Women?States and Other Areas: 1990 to 2001?

3.?????Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 52, No. 10, December 17, 2003, Table 19, ?Number and percent of births to unmarried women by race and Hispanic origin of mother: United States, each State and territory, 2002.?

4.?????Bureau of the Census Table Census 2000 PHC-T-6, ?Population By Race and Hispanic or Latino Origin for the United States, Regions, Divisions and States, and for Puerto Rico 2000?

5.?????Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003, Vital Statistics, Table No. 104, ?Abortions?Number and Rate by State: 1992 and 2000?

6.?????Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003, Vital Statistics, Table No. 194, ?AIDS, Syphilis and Tuberculosis Cases Reported by State:2001?

7.?????Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003, Vital Statistics, Table No. 202, ?Estimated Use of Selected Drugs by State: 2000-2001?

8.?????Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003, Vital Statistics, Table No. 119, ?Death Rates for Major Causes of Death?States and Outlying Areas: 2001?

9.??????Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, Cases of HIV Infection and Aids in the United States, 2003, Vol. 15, Table 12. Estimated numbers of persons living with HIV infection (not AIDS) or with AIDS at the end of 2003, by state or area of residence and age category?United States

10.?National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 52, No. 23, June 15, 2004Table 2. Number and percent distribution of pregnancies by outcome of pregnancy according to age, race, and Hispanic origin of woman: United States, 2000

11.?Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, Cases of HIV Infection and AIDS in the United States, 2003, Vol. 15?Fact Sheet - HIV/AIDS Among African Americans - CDC-NCHSTP-Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention(Excerpt):

?Risk Factors

Race and ethnicity are not, themselves, risk factors for HIV infection. However, African Americans are more likely to face challenges associated with risk for HIV infection, including:

???Poverty.Nearly one in four African Americans lives in poverty.5 Studies have found a direct relationship between higher AIDS incidence and lower income.6 A variety of socioeconomic problems associated with poverty directly or indirectly increase HIV risks, including limited access to quality health care and HIV prevention education.

???Denial.Although African Americans are responding to the HIV/AIDS crisis in their communities, many have been slow to join the effort. One reason is that some African Americans are reluctant to acknowledge issues, such as homosexuality and drug use, that are associated with HIV infection. For example, studies show that a significant number of African-American men who have sex with men identify themselves as heterosexual.7,8 As a result, they may not relate to prevention messages crafted for openly gay men. Without frank and open discussion of HIV risks, many African Americans will not get the information and support they need to protect themselves and their partners from HIV.

???Partners at Risk.African American women are most likely to be infected with HIV as a result of sex with men.1 They may not be aware of their male partners? possible risks for HIV infection such as unprotected sex with multiple partners, bisexuality, or injection drug use.9 Women who suspect that their partners are at risk for HIV infection may be reluctant to try to negotiate condom use. For example, some women may not insist on condom use out of fear that the man will leave them or withdraw financial support.10

???Substance Abuse.Injection drug use is the second leading cause of HIV infection for both African-American men and women. But sharing needles is not the only HIV risk related to substance abuse. Both casual and chronic substance abusers are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors, such as unprotected sex, when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.11

????Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Connection. For many of the reasons noted above, African Americans also have the highest STD rates in the nation. Compared to whites, African Americans are 24 times more likely to have gonorrhea and 8 times more likely to have syphilis.12 In part because of physical changes caused by STDs, including genital lesions that can serve as an entry point for HIV, the presence of certain STDs can increase the chances of contracting HIV by three- to five-fold.13 Similarly, because co-infection with HIV and another STD can cause increased HIV shedding, a person who is co-infected has a greater chance of spreading HIV to others.13”