Other opinions on this matter from:
For real entertainment, read the Paul thread at Peach Pundit.
And Loki's facebook points me to this op-ed at the Washington Post where the author deconstructs Paul's argument on libertarian grounds.
And people don't automatically agree with you just because.
It is a shame we cannot have a real philosophical discussion about anything in this country without folks misconceptualizing the whole thing.
I watched the whole Maddow interview with Paul. I've read a few things about it on the internet. I had yet to see where any of the controversey comes from, until I realized that we're dealing with two epistemologically closed worldviews attempting to communicate.
This is not a defense of Paul's position. I don't agree with him. But I am forced to wonder at the breathless posturing on the part of his interviewers and the writers. It is as if they cannot grasp his fairly easily stated position.
Like a Christian trying to understand a Buddhist's "version" of salvation, this subject will be defined by a conceptual difference. Feel free to take issue with Paul's position, but please do not see it as an ignorant or racist point of view.
It took Maddow nearly 20 minutes to illuminate the following points that could have been gleaned from the first 3 minutes of airtime:
1. Rand Paul does not personally believe in discrimination
2. Rand Paul believes that institutionalized discrimination on the part of any government should be illegal
3. Rand Paul believes that discrimination on the part of individuals, property owners and businesses, as it relates to their own person, property or business, is a seperate and more complex issue
This is, of course, completely ideologically consistent with American libertarianism. As a matter of fact, I would posit that this is one of the very foundations of the current state of American libertarianism. It is the perhaps boldest line that divides my political philosophies from those of my libertarian friends.
Paul's firearms analogy is ideologically consistent as well. If you own a coffee shop, and you don't want people to come in with their legally purchased firearms, do you have the right, as the proprietor, to refuse them entry or service?
Another analogy could be your right, as a proprietor, to allow smoking in your coffee shop. If you want to allow smoking, shouldn't you be able to do so? It is your business, after all, and anyone who doesn't like it need not patronize your business.
Paul's philosophy makes no distinction between business owners who discriminate based on legal carrying of firearms or smoking, and business owners who discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, sexual orientation, gender, etc. The proprietor is the owner of the property so they make the rules that govern the establishment, and they do so without government interference.
Because when does the expression of any individual's personal liberty infringe upon the expression of another individual's personal liberty? In libertarianism, the government should not erode one individual's personal liberty at the expense of another - the individuals should interact as individuals, making their own decisions. Government is only allowed to step in when one individual's person or property is injured by another.
And no, simply refusing you service at a lunch counter or refusing to grant you a loan based on your skin color or membership in a club does not usually count as an injury to adherents of this philosophy.
Here's how it is supposed to work:
To Paul and other followers of current libertarianism, the free-market and freedom of association will diminish desegregation naturally, and more effectively than any intrusive government regulation.
Yes, there may be lunch counters that refuse to serve black people (or Jews, or Catholics, or homosexuals, or whatever group the owner does not like), but that's OK. That unwillingness to serve will create a market of customers who have no lunch counter to patronize. All someone has to do to end the discrimination is to open their own lunch counter that does not discriminate.
In addition, people who disagree with the discrimination displayed by the proprietor of the first lunch counter, because of their liberty to associate or not associate as they so choose, will be able to express their opinions with their feet and patronize only lunch counters that do not discriminate. People who don't care either way (and who belong to demographics allowed at both lunch counters) will benefit by having two lunch counters competing for their business. Because the pool of potential patrons is larger for the second, non-discriminating lunch counter, that business has a better chance to succeed in the free-market.
Through this mechanism, the free-market diminishes discrimination more effectively than any intrusive government regulations.
Of course, believing that requires a substantial dismissal of several dynamics essential to the understanding of American history.
I didn't say it was rational, or even realistic. Remember, I think current libertarian philosophy is based on a worldview dominated by a free-market capitalist version of utopia as fantastic as any Marxist's wet dream.
But real people believe this stuff, so I'm going to pay attention. I'm not going to dismiss it as some crazy fringe movement. These are valid points, and serious questions regarding the role of law and government in relation to our lives and property. This is one of the oldest political questions our civilization wrestles with.
So let me reiterate the big news, before a philosophical thought excercise concerning the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became headline news: Rand Paul just won the nomination for the US Senate seat for a state likely to send him to Washington in November.