Rand Paul: Ignoring the Civil Rights Act OK in the Private Sector?

Jeanne Sager
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civil rights rand paul
Flickr photo by alancleaver_2000
Rand Paul may be riding high off his win in the Kentucky Senate primary on Tuesday, but if you caught the son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul on Rachel Maddow last night, you may have wondered which decade he thinks he's campaigning in.

His current target? The Civil Rights Act.

Staying true to his campaign platform of less government, exactly the sort of sentiment that ruled Super Tuesday in a variety of states, Paul has stated that he doesn't think the government has the right to enforce the Civil Rights Act in private places.

So Dr. King really shouldn't have been served at Woolworth's?

In Rand's estimation, nope.

But before you start calling him a racist (oh come on, even conservatives had to shudder at that one), Paul told NPR's All Things Considered he's against "institutional racism" and would have marched with Dr. King had he been able to back in the '60s.

And you have a black friend and a gay one too, right Paul?

The problem here isn't that he's a "racist." It's that the Senate candidate just took a scalpel and segregated the types of racism he's against.

In institutions, it's bad. In the rest of America, well, that's just free speech.

He made that clear in an editorial board discussion with Kentucky's Journal Courier before the primary, and now he's trying to do cleanup ... and failing miserably.

The Civil Rights law, he told Maddow, was really about voting, schools, and public housing, avoiding her direct questions about whether private businesses should be allowed to hang out a "no blacks allowed" sign.

Finally pressed to answer, Paul asked whether we should "limit speech from people we find abhorrent?"

The fact is, free speech already has limitations. They come when they adversely affect others' rights to the freedoms also afforded them in the Constitution -- when the freedom of religion, for example, is compromised by a restaurant owner's decision to ban people with yarmulkes from their otherwise public restaurant.

Our freedom of speech was placed under the same yoke as the freedoms of religion, speech, and peaceful assembly by our forefathers for a reason -- they must work in concert to achieve that "perfect union."

Paul's attempts to scare the liberals to come around to his way of thinking are laughable at best. His predictable attempt to bring up the scary notion of guns in public places is flawed in its incongruity with the situation and its ignorance of the local statutes he holds so dear.

Said Paul, "For example, right now, many states and many gun organizations are saying they have a right to carry a gun in a public restaurant because a public restaurant is not a private restaurant. Therefore, they have a right to carry their gun in there and that the restaurant has no right to have rules to their restaurant ... When you blur the distinction between public and private ownership, there really is a problem."

There are less than a dozen "open carry" states, and running as a pro-gun Republican, aren't you losing your argument that gun owners are largely responsible citizens who wouldn't think of taking their gun with them when they're going to imbibe alcohol at a bar?

Discussing whether Rand Paul is or isn't a racist is clouding the issue -- what he is is an enabler, a politician who is willing to allow 50 years of progress to go up in smoke.

He speaks of "taking back our government," but where does he plan on taking it?

Is that really someone we need in the Senate?

 

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