Monday, May 24, 2010

Is Rand Paul a racist because of his views on the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

Do I think that the Republican Nominee for US Senate from Kentucky, Rand Paul is a racist? No, I don't think he is a racist, but I do think his idea about how far government should go in limiting discrimination is wrong. Let me begin by explaining where I think he is coming from because I don't think that he has been real clear on what he means when he has addressed this issue. From the interviews that I have read and watched, it seems to me that his view is that private businesses should be allowed to decide who they will serve. His argument is basically a free market option. He seems to think that if businesses are free to discriminate that the market will eventually correct for that, and those businesses that discriminate will go out of business. He also seems to argue a states rights issue, and a free speech one as well, all of which I think are wrong when it comes to this issue.

First, let's tackle the free market argument. Paul, and others like him have a very libertarian view of what government should be able to regulate. His idea is that businesses should be free to decide who the will serve because he thinks that to tell businesses that they have to serve anyone is to overreach government's authority. Free market people like him think that the market will decide issues like this. I wonder if there are other issues related to businesses where he thinks the government goes too far. For instance, does he think that OSHA shouldn't be able to regulate workplace safety, but I digress. The point is that sometimes the market does not take care of bad behavior on the part of businesses. The free market allowed discrimination at lunch counters in the South to flourish 100 years after slavery was abolished.

Next, let's tackle the states rights issue. I think most people would agree that if the southern states were left to their own devices they would not have ended racial discrimination in education or any other arena. In more than one southern state it took the National Guard being called out to force them to integrate colleges and court orders to force integration of public schools.

Finally, we come to the free speech argument. This one is a little more tricky. Freedom of speech does mean that people have the freedom to express racial views, but I do not believe that they should be able to express those views by discriminating against people in the marketplace.

In conclusion, I think the debate that Paul is raising is one of just how far the government can go in limiting what businesses can do. He seems to think that government should not be able to tell private businesses who the have to serve. This does not make him a racist, but I do think he is wrong. As always, I would like to invite you to tell me your thoughts and opinions on this matter. You can post your comments here, post them on my wall at, email them to me at, or call in on Wednesday to the Brandon Kinney Show at 214-556-6239.

No comments:

Post a Comment