Thursday, May 20, 2010

Extremely Uncivil

Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul has issues with the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Question: Would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Rand Paul: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains and I’m all in favor of that.

Questioner: But…?

Rand Paul: (nervous laugh) You had to ask me the “but.” um.. I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners – I abhor racism – I think it’s a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant. But at the same time I do believe in private ownership. But I think there should be absolutely no discrimination on anything that gets any public funding and that’s most of what the Civil Rights Act was about to my mind.

[…]

Questioner: But under your philosophy it would be okay for Dr. King to not be served at the counter at Woolworths?

Rand Paul: I would not go to that Woolworth’s, and I would stand up in my community and say it’s abhorrent. um… But the hard part, and this is the hard part about believing in freedom is, if you believe in the First Amendment, for example, you to, for example– most good defenders will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things, and we’re here at the bastion of newspaperdom (sic) and I’m sure you believe in the First Amendment, so I’m sure you understand people can say bad things. It’s the same way with other behaviors. In a free society we will tolerate boorish people who have abhorrent behavior, but if we’re civilized people we publicly criticize that and don’t belong to those groups or associate with those people.

What he’s basically saying is that racism is bad but the government has no business writing laws that put an end to institutional racism in private business; that’s an unacceptable level of government interference into a person’s private life and control of their behavior. And yet he has no problem whatsoever with the government telling women exactly what to do with their uterus; he won’t even permit an abortion in the case of rape or incest.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the crowning glory of the Tea Party movement.

There’s a great deal of difference between tolerating speech that you hate — i.e. Fred Phelps and his miserable lot of followers carrying signs proclaiming that GOD HATES FAGS or the Klan marching in Skokie — and actually allowing behavior that restricts the rights of people to enter a public establishment like a restaurant. Since Dr. Paul and people who agree with him cannot grasp the basic concept that rights without the power of law to enforce them are meaningless — not to mention the hypocrisy when it comes to the rights of women — and the chances are slim that Dr. Paul has ever been the victim of institutional discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation (he gave his victory speech Tuesday night at a country club), he really has a lot to learn before he becomes one of the people who makes the laws.