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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rand Paul

I've had some distractions this week that kept me from raising the issue of Rand Paul's comments on race. This was widely reported, so I'm thinking anyone who really cares about the issues raised probably doesn't need to read another article about it, so no link from me. I did, however, want to make a point or two myself.

I enjoy reading the columns of Leonard Pitts, which appear every week in the Scranton Times (and I'm assuming the Citizen's Voice as well). His latest column discussed Rand Paul's comments about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You can read the column HERE. As usual, Pitts goes to the heart of the issue, which is namely that Rand Paul put himself in this position; unlike Sarah Palin, I don't believe that the "evil media" somehow "forced" Rand Paul to make an ass out of himself. Doctor Paul seems a like a bright guy to me, far too bright to say something like this without actually knowing what he is saying. If you believe he is the victim of, as (former) Governor Palin says the "gotcha media", then he has no business in the U.S. Senate, for clearly he's not bright enough for the job. Nope, from my perspective he meant what he said.

Anyway, the crux of Dr Paul's argument was that the government shouldn't be telling private property owners what to do. On the surface that could sound reasonable, but when you take more than 30 seconds to think about it, most would come to a different conclusion. Specifically, I think in point of fact Dr. Paul probably has no problem with the government telling private property owners what to do sometimes. How could I say that? Ah, an example is in order.

Let's say for example that Dr Paul's neighbor decided to start a combination pig farm and methane plant. This neighbor owns the property, so why shouldn't he be able to do what he wanted on it without government interference? If Dr Paul's pleas to he neighbor to stop the pig farm/methane plant went unanswered, where would he go? Yes, you guessed it, to the government. Why? Because the government has established rules (zoning rules) saying that (for example) opening a pig farm/methane plant in a residential area isn't allowed. I bet in this example Dr Paul would be more than happy for that bit of government intervention, as would most people. Sometimes we need the government to help protect us from idiots.

Look, I want as little government as is necessary. But that's the point: sometimes government is necessary. It's necessary when an idiot neighbor wants to do something that could harm you or your property, and it's necessary when some racist swine would treat other human beings like they are sub-human simply because they look differently. What someone does in the privacy of their own home is none of my business, but the moment they do something that could effect me...or society at large...then it becomes something for our collective business. In our society, our "collective business" is reflected in the government.

In the final analysis...
  1. Racism isn't a blurry kind of issue; either you think it is wrong to discriminate against someone because of how they look or you don't. If it's wrong, then it should be stopped without exception.
  2. I don't know Rand Paul well enough to say whether or not he is a racist. He has, however, now defended racism. Forget the comments about deploring it; if you say that something shouldn't be done when a black person isn't allowed to eat at certain restaurant (for example), then you are as guilty of racism as the owner. It's that simple.
  3. Either you are smart enough to answer reporters questions without coming off like an ass or you are not. If the latter applies, then give up the future in the U.S. Senate.
Three words of advice for Dr Paul: Admit your mistake.

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