Social scientist James Q. Wilson passed away this morning at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital here in Boston of leukemia. He was 80.
Wilson, who taught at Harvard, UCLA, Pepperdine University and Boston College as well as a long standing affiliation with the American Enterprise Institute, became influential in conservative public policy circles for his “broken windows” theory of law and order which were subsequently adopted most notably by Rudy Giuliani in New York City during the 1990s. Wilson also studied the family and marriage, poverty and urban renewal amongst other subjects. He had recently returned to the Boston area noting that his family “feel a legal obligation to live within thirty minutes of Fenway Park.” I know that feeling.
Here is a nice profile of Wilson written by Jim Newton of The Los Angeles Times back in June 2007. It includes a quote from former President George W. Bush after he bestowed Wilson with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Bush said, “Whatever his subject, James Q. Wilson writes with intellectual rigor, with moral clarity, to the appreciation of a wide and growing audience.”
To that end, I am with Jonah Goldberg: “I think we’ve had enough death this week.”