(VIDEO) Rand Paul: All for Liberty and Freedom Unless You’re Black, Female, Disabled, or Gay


This article was updated at 10:04 am Thursday, May 20th to replace the video originally embedded with the correct video intended for this piece.

Rand Paul, the Tea Party candidate who won the Kentucky Republican nomination for Senate in last night’s election, is one scary dude. And like other scary dudes coming out from under a rock to face the national media he is finding that his politics of division and hatred don’t transfer very well under the harsh glare of fact and sanity.

Paul is an anti-government, anti-establisment agitator who ran on a platform of shaking up Washington, and “taking our government back.”  To him that means possibly dismantling pesky little laws such as the Civil Rights Act and other protections against discrimination that override the rights of business owners to run their businesses the “way they see fit.”  If, for example, they see fit to hang a sign saying “No Coloreds Allowed.”

As one example.

Paul appears, however, not to have practiced articulating his arguments for a national audience, because either he doesn’t understand the implications of his own positions very well or he doesn’t have the courage to clarify them on national television.  It’s a long clip, but watch this one from Rachel Maddow tonight, during which Paul is completely incoherent in responding to questions about whether, for example, he would allow business owners to bar people of color from eating at their restaurant.

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Paul is also deeply anti-choice.

He claims he is a libertarian. According the website Libertarianism:

Libertarians believe that, on every issue, you have the right to decide for yourself what’s best for you and to act on that belief so long as you respect the right of other people to do the same and deal with them peacefully and honestly.

According to this definition, Rand Paul may be a LINO (Libertarian In Name Only). He is a libertarian, except, of course, when it comes to women’s rights, health, and lives, at which point he draws the line on women’s lives, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Men only in this club, gals. And by that I mean heterosexual men because gays, lesbians, transgender persons–and persons with disabilities–are all in the “women” category because they don’t deserve federal protections, according to Mr. Paul. 

Indeed, in an interview tonight on NPR Mr. Paul suggested we could just get rid of the Americans with Disabilities Act because (I am paraphrasing) companies that had offices with two or more floors could just put the “disabled” offices on the first floor, so business owners don’t have to spend a lot of money on elevators to accommodate the needs of disabled workers to, say, get around the rest of the building.  The true meaning of “able-ism.”

He’s for civil rights, but just doesn’t think we should “legislate them.” Like, leave them to the states, man. He feels, according to the Kentucky Courier-Journal, that while the federal government can enforce integration of government jobs and facilities, private business people should be able to decide whether they want to serve black people, or gays, or any other minority group. These and other views be what prompted Matt Yglesias of ThinkProgress to call Paul a lunatic.

He’s also a “personhood” guy and, if elected, he’d like to pass some laws that would basically make criminals out of women who have abortions or miscarry.  On his website:

I am 100% pro life. I believe abortion is taking the life of an innocent human being.  I believe life begins at conception and it is the duty of our government to protect this life. I will always vote for any and all legislation that would end abortion or lead us in the direction of ending abortion. I believe in a Human Life Amendment and a Life at Conception Act as federal solutions to the abortion issue. I also believe that while we are working toward this goal, there are many other things we can accomplish in the near term.

These, are, of course, sentiments strongly shared by the Republican Party, yet even though he’s still in the “family” on the rights of women, gays, and people of color, even they seem to be keeping a wary arm’s distance from Paul.

Yet despite his distate of government regulation of business (because lack of regulation is working out so well in, say, the case of the BP oil spill) Paul actually wants to expand government in other ways, once again focusing on those non-liberties of women:

I would strongly support legislation restricting federal courts from hearing cases like Roe v. Wade. Such legislation would only require a majority vote, making it more likely to pass than a pro-life constitutional amendment.

and:

I would support legislation, a Sanctity of Life Amendment, establishing the principle that life begins at conception. This legislation would define life at conception in law, as a scientific statement.

I didn’t know you could legislate a “scientific fact” that doesn’t exist. But give him points for creativity.

There is of course debate across the political spectrum of the meaning of the results in last night’s race in Kentucky, with various bets on whether Paul’s win is ephemeral or if he might actually end up heading to the Senate. Many of course hope that having Paul as the nominee will result in the addition of a Democratic Senate seat in November. Others shudder at the prospect that Paul might win. 

In a piece for Atlantic Wire, Nick Ottens summarizes reactions from a range of commentators:

Some are skeptical that Paul’s victory signifies much however. According to Joshua Green, writing for The Altantic, Rand Paul’s win doesn’t herald a Tea Party tidal wave. For one thing, “Paul’s celebrity dad brought him money, volunteers, name recognition, and media attention, particularly on Fox News. What other Tea Party candidate can match that?” he wonders.

Ottens writes that at Newsweek, David Graham warns against a “conservative backlash” to Paul’s victory, noting that, “Even some heterodox conservatives are voicing concern.”

And, notes Ottens, commentators on the left have been quick to convince themselves that Tuesday means nothing. Andy Ostroy at The Huffington Post believes that Paul’s victory only shows “that Republican voters are sick of establishment GOP candidates.”

The Tea baggers can beat their chests and crow all they want about the “hugeness” of their movement’s big victory, as Paul boasted last night, but all it portends for the party in November’s midterm elections is Republican-on-Republican bloodletting.

Ottens concludes, however:

Considering that Paul led Grayson by 59 to 35 percent of the vote; considering the predominance of the Republican Party in Kentucky politics, with the state opting for GOP candidates in the last three presidential elections; and considering today’s political climate in all of the United States, Rand Paul as senator is by no means unthinkable. Quite to the contrary.

“[B]y nominating a lunatic,” writes Yglesias, “Republicans have suddenly raised the odds that a lunatic will represent Kentucky in the United States Senate.”

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  • progo35

    Thank you for acknowledging the discrimination disabled people face in our country. This is one of the few articles on RH that I’ve seen that does this. The argument about the ADA and business is one I’ve heard others make and it is infuriating.

  • thenewtheory

     

    Rand Paul is not a bigot.  Most people just don’t understand libertarian ideology and capitalism.  It requires private property rights.  I don’t believe the government should own my property or tell me what I can sell or who I will sell it to.  It is my right to use my property as I please.  The problem in the south is that they didn’t allow blacks to be on juries so there was no way to prosecute racist white people who were physically assaulting black people.  Why must you always want to divide this nation?  You won’t be able to divide and conquer this country.  We libertarians will win this time. Boycotting and protesting businesses that are racist is the best ways of taking down racist private businesses and people. 

     

  • radicalhousewife

    Bigotry is bigotry…      ….no matter what you choose to call it.  Justifying prejudice as a political philosophy like “libertarianism” doesn’t change it one bit.  It’s clear that Paul-style libertarianism means liberty for non-disabled, straight white men and no one else.  I have great hope that Kentuckians will grasp this and prevent him from getting anywhere near Washington. 

  • superbena2002

    I am from Maryland, but anybody that speaks out against any parts of the ADA and/or the Civil Rights Act should be an automatic no vote. Do you think that a business is going to automatically install an elevator or a ramp for people in wheelchairs? It is like the business would say,”I have these stairs here and if you can’t go up them, tough.” And when it comes down to his words on businesses and the Civil Rights Act, there is only one thing that I learned in high school US History class that can come to mind, the Greensboro, NC Woolworths Sit-Ins during the Civil Rights Movement ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greensboro_sit-ins ). We could be having a lot of these sit ins again if nuts like Rand Paul have their way. We don’t need to go back in time.

  • prochoiceferret

    Rand Paul is not a bigot.

    Correct. He is a lunatic.

    The problem in the south is that they didn’t allow blacks to be on juries so there was no way to prosecute racist white people who were physically assaulting black people.

    Yes, the whole criminal justice system down there was all set to help Blacks get justice for the crimes committed against them. If only they had been able to get onto juries, everything would have worked out just fine!

    Boycotting and protesting businesses that are racist is the best ways of taking down racist private businesses and people.

    Yes, I’m sure everyone down in the South will be eager to boycott private businesses that discriminate by race. Just like everyone in Utah is gung-ho about boycotting businesses that discriminate against gays, and everyone in Arizona won’t stand for discrimination against Latinos.

    You won’t be able to divide and conquer this country.  We libertarians will win this time.

    Funny, I heard that before the last election. And the election before that. And the one before that one, too….

  • tfgray

    More proof that the Right Wing agenda is the repeal of the entire 20th Century, except for the nukes and the internal combustion engine.

  • gorrjer

    Libertarians do not believe you can choose to do everything, that’s anarchy.

     

    They believe you get freedom where you DON’T harm others.  Since Rand believes that the unborn is a human life, which is scientifically undisputable, he does not give you freedom to kill them.

     

    Just like Libertarians do not believe that murder should be legal.

     

    Where is the contradiction in this that the author sees?

  • ahunt

    Libertarians are social darwinists.

     

    Survival of the fittest, (read…most brutal) and fuck everyone else.

     

    Be careful what you wish for…

  • prochoiceferret

    They believe you get freedom where you DON’T harm others … Where is the contradiction in this that the author sees?

    Probably in the fact that if there is a fetus inside you, and you don’t want it there, then it is harming you (by trespassing on your body) and thereby you get freedom by having an abortion.

    Since Rand believes that the unborn is a human life, which is scientifically undisputable, he does not give you freedom to kill them.

    Oh, okay. So if a “human life” holds a gun to your head and takes from you the resources it needs to live, then you do not have the freedom to stop handing those over (because that would kill said scientifically-undisputable human life).

    • tredc

      if there is a fetus inside you, and you don’t want it there, then it is harming you (by trespassing on your body) and thereby you get freedom by having an abortion.

      That’s a reasonable argument only if you can account for the trespassing part.  Except in cases of rape, the person whose body contains the second life shares responsibility for its being present.  

      if a “human life” holds a gun to your head and takes from you the resources it needs to live, then you do not have the freedom to stop handing those over (because that would kill said scientifically-undisputable human life).

      A gun?  How bizarre.  How is the fetal life extracting resources by threatening the mother?  Rather, it is like being stranded on a deserted island where a newborn washes ashore- except that in most cases the shipwreck from which the newborn has come would be partly your responsibility, even though it wasn’t your intent.

       

      Since providing for it would be an unwanted burden, and no one can relieve you of that burden, can you ethically cause it’s death?  Maximizing your freedom can’t come at the price of harm to someone else.

       

      I’m not interested in debating what is the best moral philosophy with regard to abortion – I’m just pointing out that even for libertarians, personal freedom doesn’t NECESSARILY entail a right to abortion.  If you are someone who sees the unborn as morally equivalent to a newborn, then even a libertarian can oppose abortion.   

       

      Libertarians for Life

      http://www.l4l.org/

       

  • princess-rot

    There is an excellent thread about this at Pandagon right now. Some libertarian is being eviscerated by the commentariat because he will not accept that the libertarian ideal of a lawless utopia is just not in line with reality. They are, as ahunt said, social darwinists that convieniently forget that society has provided them with the privilege to always be on top of the pile.

     

    I had a thought, some seven years ago (after wading through The Fountainhead, natch), that libertarianism essentially boils down to property rights, and only select people (read: rich, white, preferably male) get those rights. It wasn’t so much an ah-ha moment as a smack-upside-the-head moment.

    • tredc

      the libertarian ideal of a lawless utopia is just not in line with reality.

      It’s interesting that you used the phrase “lawless utopia”.  If you’re interested in an intellectually vigorous account (rather than the Rand’s pop-philosophy) of how libertarians see a minimalist state (not anarchy) as being the state which is most conducive to justice, the best source is the classic “Anarchy State & Utopia”.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/nozick/

      They are, as ahunt said, social darwinists that convieniently forget that society has provided them with the privilege to always be on top of the pile…  (after wading through The Fountainhead, natch), that libertarianism essentially boils down to property rights, and only select people (read: rich, white, preferably male) get those rights.

       

      While that is a typical liberal objection to libertarianism, the fact is that it’s based on a liberal view of ‘social justice’, which libertarians can (with well reasoned justification) reject.  The conflict between a liberal understanding of justice which focuses on outcomes and is broadly egalitarian, and a libertarian understanding of justice which focuses on fair application of rules in a context of competition (and does not object to disparity in outcomes or disparities in the starting points of competitors, so long as the rules are obeyed) was the subject of the long debate between Rawls and Nozick.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchy,_State,_and_Utopia#Distributive_justice

       

      A (somewhat simplistic) analogy might be- if three children both want the last candy bar, what is a fair way to resolve the conflict?  A liberal solution might be to appeal to a parent or teacher to divide it equally.  A libertarian might say it’s fair to give it to the winner of a drawing contest or bike race (despite there being competitive advantages- in terms of both ability and access to the best resources) AS LONG AS there is a fair application of rules of competition, and point out that the competition itself provides a benefit to the children more lasting than a portion of candy.

       

      Libertarians for Life

      http://www.l4l.org/

  • tredc

    A better framing of the Rand Paul controversy (though the conclusion is flagrantly biased against libertarian principles – naturally considering the source) is a New Republic essay,  Rand Paul’s Principled Absurdity .

     

    Speaking broadly, modern government moves between two poles, each of which has a seventeenth-century thinker as its champion, and each of which is focused on minimizing a particular form of injustice. On one side is Thomas Hobbes, who defended the creation of an authoritarian government as the only viable means of protecting certain individuals and groups from injustices perpetrated by other individuals and groups. On the other side is John Locke, who advocated a minimal state in order to protect individuals and groups against injustices perpetrated by governments themselves. Taken to an extreme, the Hobbesian pole leads to totalitarianism, while the Lockean pole terminates in the quasi-anarchism of the night watchman state.

    Aside, perhaps, from the pretty thoroughly Hobbesian state of North Korea, every functional government in the world mixes elements of each of these pure forms—and partisan disputes within nations can often be reduced to conflicts over how Hobbesian or Lockean the state should be on a given issue. There are endless examples. Should health care be delivered by the state, by private entities, or by some mixture of the two? How much should the state regulate the market, and in what areas? And as Rand Paul has recently reminded us: Should racist business owners be free to treat black Americans as second-class citizens? Or should the federal government forbid such discrimination? In each case, to favor government action is to lean toward Hobbes; to oppose it is to favor Locke.

    What makes Rand Paul’s position (as he originally expressed it on the Maddow show) noteworthy is that it’s a pure, unadulterated expression of Lockean anti-statism with little admixture of Hobbesian sentiments at all.

     

    link=

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/damon-linker/75160/rand-pauls-principled-absurdity

     

    Libertarians for Life

    http://www.l4l.org/

     

  • colleen

    Libertarians for Life

    How absolutely precious.

  • princess-rot

    So rather than teach the kids to share – by far a more useful, egalaterian quality – it’s better to pit them against each other and give all resources to the one who is the fastest, the richest, the biggest bully?

     

    Hey, at least the “lesser” kids are permitted to race though they would be set up to fail because they don’t have the privileges or resources of other children!  In democratic politics, this is rigging the ballot. In auto racing, this is called “souping”. There is no fitting nitrous oxide injection to one car when everyone else has to do with a standard engine, even if all cars in the race are the same in every other respect. An inaccurate analogy, I know, but liberterians do not realise they do not exist in a vacuum. The various “isms” of this reality do and would carry over to any libertarian ideal world. Everything will fine, as long as the “rules” are obeyed, don’t mind that man behind the curtain?

     

    I got nothing else to add, here.

  • emma

    Oh christ, an evangelising glibertarian.

     

    Since providing for it would be an unwanted burden, and no one can relieve you of that burden, can you ethically cause it’s death? Maximizing your freedom can’t come at the price of harm to someone else.

    Funny, this sounds much like libertarians re: health care. i.e. ‘I don’t care if people die from treatable disease; the important thing is that I don’t have to pay for health care for those less deserving than me’.

     

    Is obsessing over foetal rights a misguided way to try to compensate for subscribing to an ideology that actively promotes callousness and disregard for everyone else’s life and wellbeing? Because it doesn’t work; it just makes you look like the hypocrite you are.

  • crowepps

    A (somewhat simplistic) analogy might be- if three children both want the last candy bar, what is a fair way to resolve the conflict? A liberal solution might be to appeal to a parent or teacher to divide it equally. A libertarian might say it’s fair to give it to the winner of a drawing contest or bike race (despite there being competitive advantages- in terms of both ability and access to the best resources) AS LONG AS there is a fair application of rules of competition, and point out that the competition itself provides a benefit to the children more lasting than a portion of candy.

    So translating this into ‘government’ or ‘imposed social rules’ terms, the liberal believes that a benefit unearned by anyone in the group, provided from outside the group (the candy bar) should be divided by the person who provided it into equal shares, and the libertarian believes that those who want something should be able to fight each other (compete) for it, and that the role of ‘government’ or ‘imposed social rules’ is to referee the fight? Is it really an appropriate purpose of government to monitor the “fair application of the rules of competition”? Isn’t that something which should be left to ‘the market’? After all, it worked out SO WELL for the majority of people back in feudal times when this concept could be seen in action.

     

    Wouldn’t it be a lot more ‘libertarian’ for the adult who bought the candy bar to just eat it themselves? Why should the kids get an unearned benefit? If they want candy, let them go get jobs.

  • tredc

    I’m not personally a libertarian.  On my profile you’ll see a list of links to a diverse assortment of pro-life groups.  Obviously I couldn’t be part of them all. 

     

    I respect the intellectual consistency of libertarian phiosophy, but that’s the case with a lot of views I’m actually opposed to.   I know a lot of Libertarians (big “L”), a surprising number of whom are pro-life.  (Big gap between pro-life/2nd Amendment emphasizing Libertarian and a pro-choice/drug legalization emphasizing Libertarian).

     

    I objected to the article’s calling Rand Paul a LINO because there’s no inconsistency between taking either side of the abortion issue and being libertarian.  The link for Libertarian’s for life is for that reason.  If the article said you can’t be antiabortion and support gay rights or be an antiabortion atheist, I’d  have used a different link.  The abortion issue can’t be a litmus test for libertarianism because it goes beyond just freedom/liberty into personhood, the definition of human life, etc…

     

    As to defending libertarian principles generally, I really think people aren’t being fair to Paul.  (Of course if I lived in KY I’d have voted against him.)  There were years of back and forth between Rawls ( liberalism ) and Nozick ( libertarianism ) as they were on the same faculty.  Anarchy State Utopia is where to go for the libertarian argument.  It’s fascinating if you like political theory.  There are links above.  I’m not going to defend the libertarian view because while the reasoning is generally very elegant, on a purely subjective basis I consider it to be ethically bankrupt.