Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, made some controversial remarks, telling the host that he believed a limited government should not oblige privately owned corporations to follow the civil rights laws.
When asked by Maddow if he thought private businesses have the right to say “we don’t serve black people,” Paul said “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 about this debate is not written 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 freedom requires.”
Democrats quickly went on the attack, citing a 2002 document written by Paul in which he argues that private businesses should have the right to discriminate.
After his comments drew some serious heat, Paul went on the defensive, saying “Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.”
In a later interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Paul expounded on his comments, saying “I think that there was an overriding problem in the South so big that it did require federal intervention in the ’60s. And it stems from things that I said, you know, had been going on, really, 120 years too long. And the Southern states weren’t correcting it. And I think there was a need for federal intervention.”
But, you know, racism is long gone now, so it’s unnecessary.
(Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore)