An interesting story caught my eye yesterday about Kentucky’s upcoming GOP Senate candidate, Rand Paul. Rachel Maddow asked him the following:
Maddow: Do you think that a private business has a right to say that ‘We don’t serve black people?’
Paul: I’m not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. We still do have private clubs in America that can discriminate based on race.
But I think what’s important in this debate is not getting into any specific “gotcha” on this, but asking the question ‘What about freedom of speech?’ Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent. Should we limit racists from speaking. I don’t want to be associated with those people, but I also don’t want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that’s one of the things that freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn’t mean we approve of it…
Now, I see what’s he saying. He danced around quite a bit, but as politicians go, that’s a pretty honest response. It’s a very libertarian stance, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And he’s not coming off as racist and I don’t believe he is. Basically, it boils down to “The government and its public money won’t discriminate because it’s the right thing to do. But, if, for example, a restaurant owner who owns and runs his own establishment decides they don’t want to serve a group of people, I guess that’s their right.”
It’s realizing we can’t change the way people think, necessarily. So, let them do whatever they want on their own property. It’s their business — if people don’t like it and disagree, they’ll go elsewhere and the business will fail with no one else to blame but the owner. It’s not any different if I don’t want people on my front yard — whether they’re a majority or minority. It’s my property and if I don’t want you there, I’ll call the police and they’ll remove you.
The trick, however, is that Rand has to have the same feelings about every other law. Does this mean that if a person were to smoke marijuana on his property, the government has no right to stop them? It’s not harming anyone, so what right do they have? This doesn’t mean the government can’t say no to its use on public property like schools, hospitals, parks, etc. That could be treated just like alcohol and tobacco.
One could easily argue that the point here is to protect minorities and without the government’s help, they’ll never have rights. That’s absolutely right. But, it doesn’t cost the government anything to say, for example, “gays now have equal rights”. And, if people don’t want to change their views about gays, fine. But, if a gay couple is on their own property and not doing anything lewd or harmful, they’re protected from people who do harm them on their property and in public places. And if a business owner doesn’t want gay people in his establishment, fine. They lost a customer and revenue and it’s their own fault what happens from there.
And, just as an aside because I know someone is thinking about it: I’m not really a fan of hate crimes for minorities. You have to stop treating people like minorities/majorities and just treat them like people. If someone is killed, someone is killed and it’s wrong and our system of laws will convict and punish the killer. But to say that because someone killed a black woman and not a white woman they have to spend an extra 10 years in jail (or whatever it is), I don’t think that’s fair. Plus, it’s not like anyone ever said, “Oh, I’d better target the white guy so I don’t get charged with a hate crime.”