Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Right to Discriminate

A co-worker the other day asked me about Rand Paul and the "racist" comments he made regarding public/private property.  For those of you who don't know, Rand Paul is running for a senate seat in Kentucky and a week ago he won the republican primary in a landslide.  He is the son of Congressmen Ron Paul (TX), who I have cited in various posts, here, and here.

Immediately after Rand Paul's somewhat surprising victory the other day, the intellectually dishonest media began lambasting him as a racist based on his response during an interview about the civil rights movement.  Basically, he said that he supported the majority of the civil rights legislation, but that the laws concerning private property, ie, resturants, bars, pool halls, etc are unjust.  A business owner should have the right to discriminate if he or she wants to.  As Paul says in the interview, "racism is terrible and always a bad business decision, but the owner the private property should be able to make that decision."

Racism is morally corrupt and ignorant and indeed a poor business decision, but the owner of private property has the right to discriminate if they want to.  Even if it is a "public" place like a cafe, the fact of the matter is the owner of the property has the right to be a fool and discriminate based on race, sex, age, height, the car you drive, and so on and so forth.  Should a there be a law mandating who you let in your home? As soon as we start talking about something like water fountains, public buses and schools, who are all funded with taxpayer dollars and therefore truly public property, then their MUST be laws preventing discrimination.  So Rand Paul is correct on this subject the attacks against him are unfounded.

I only wish Rand could apply these same logical libertarian principals to other subjects, like foreign policy. This is a crucial fork in the intellectual road where he and his father go their own ways.  Ron Paul maintains that foreign military engagements are bad, where his son seems to encourage the ever hawkish "strong national defense," which means at its core that war is good and America needs to be the COP of the world.  He is not the consistent libertarian that I wish he could be, but I certainly maintain that he was correct about a private business owner right to discriminate. 

Check out a clip of the story here and watch Stossel defend this right.

1 comment:

  1. It's hard to know where to start with some of this. Yes, Paul came under an enormous amount of deserved criticism, but the majority of the criticism that I read did not focus on whether or not Paul is racist but on the accuracy of his statements and his understanding of history. While it's both convenient and easy to blame "the media" (or the "liberal establishment" as Rand whines) for the frenzy of criticism, I think it's important to note that he was being criticized by many members of his own party.

    There are multiple points being made here, but Stossel and Paul are simply wrong in believing that free markets would have eliminated problems of extreme discrimination and racism that existed in this country not too long ago (Stossel admits to not being so certain about his argument in the video you included here). Even William F. Buckley Jr., an opponent of civil rights legislation, said, "I once believed we could evolve our way up from Jim Crow, I was wrong: federal intervention was necessary." History just doesn't support their positions, and I think that is, in part, what has led to some of the criticism.

    Paul made some other striking comments in regards to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Paul expressed reservations about the act and argued that it might not be reasonable to require a small two story office to build an expensive elevator to accommodate someone. Wouldn't it make more sense to give that person an office on the first floor?, he argued. The problem is that the example that Paul gave as a reason to question the act is an exact description of an exception provided for in ADA. What do you make of that? Again, I think it is Paul's lack of understanding of the very things he criticizes that has led to the backlash against him. While distorting reality to get people mad at government can surely win over some voters, it does not say much for someone interested in becoming a U.S. Senator.