Below is an excerpt from a recent editorial board interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, in which Paul discusses with the interviewer his disagreements with the Civil Rights Act. Sure, he supports the idea of abolishing federally mandated segregation and discrimination, but the Civil Rights Act had to get all ZANY and require private enterprises to allow non-white people into their establishments. And that's anathema to FREEDOM!
[Full transcript below.]
To assert that rescinding (the most obvious) government-sanctioned racism was the end of institutional racism is necessarily predicated on an absurd misunderstanding of what constitutes institutional bias and thus what is required to solve it.
The other piece that particularly interested me was this:
I'm sure you believe in the First Amendment, so you understand that people can say bad things; it's the same way with other behaviors. In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people, who have abhorrent behavior. But, if we're civilized people, we publicly criticize that and don't belong to those groups, we don't associate with those people.By the rationale Paul is using here, he not only doesn't support the Civil Rights Act; he also doesn't support the criminalization of murder. We should just deal with murderers by giving them a stern talking to and defriending them on Facebook.
I don't guess I need to point out how truly, deeply stupid this argument really is.
Relatedly, this isn't the first time I've seen a Free Speech Absolutist compare behavior and speech without seemingly any regard whatsoever for the fact that we, in fact, don't respond to the most egregious behavior of our fellow citizens merely by criticizing them or shunning them, but by making those behaviors illegal.
And no one goes around caterwauling about slippery slopes because we've criminalized murder. "Next thing you know, they'll be putting people in jail for using airhorns!" No, we consider ourselves eminently capable of discerning between behavior that is merely obnoxious and behavior that is a menace to the public good.
Even regarding crimes about which many people, myself included, argue that criminalization and imprisonment is absurd (see: possession and/or personal use of recreational drugs that did not involve operating a vehicle or in any way endangering others), no one's arguing we should criminalize no behavior at all to avoid overreaching. We debate the merits of criminalizing individual crimes.
So the idea that Free Speech must be treated as an all-or-nothing right, even if that speech includes the linguistic equivalent of a violent community menace (e.g. hate speech), is just a cop-out to avoid the admittedly challenging task of ensuring that marginalized populations aren't targeted by unduly privileged speech.
I'm not surprised that Paul doesn't care about speech that entrenches the marginalization of non-privileged people, but even I'm shocked that he would be so daft as to unintentionally suggest that his Free Speech Absolutism would be applicable to "objectionable" behavior, in the course of trying to defend "Whites Only" policies.
Interviewer: Would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
Paul: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I'm all in favor of that.
Paul: [laughs heartily] You had to ask me the "but." Um, I don't like the idea of telling private business owners—I abhor racism. I think it's a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant—but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I think there should be absolutely no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that's most of what the Civil Rights Act was about to my mind.
Interviewer: And then it was extended by most localities to include all—
Interviewer: Would you have favored those local— [crosstalk]?
Paul: Well, on a local basis, it might be a little different. And the thing is, is I would speak out in favor of it, I mean—I'm, I look at like the speeches of Martin Luther King and, I tell ya, I become emotional watches the speeches of Martin Luther King. I loved it, because he was a great, transformative figure, but he was a believer. What I don't like most about politics is almost none of them are believers, and he was a true believer, and he fought government injustice—and those were governmental rules and laws that forbid people, you know, from riding the bus or sitting in certain parts of the bus, or drinking water from public fountains. All of that should have, should have ended, and I think was a, a great occurrence that it did.
Interviewer: But under your philosophy, it would be okay for Dr. King not to be served at the counter at Woolworths?
Paul: I would not go to that Woolworths, and I would stand up in my community and say it's abhorrent, um, but, the hard part—and this is the hard part about believing in freedom—is, if you believe in the First Amendment, for example, you have too, for example, most good defenders of the First Amendment will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things. And, uh, we're here at the bastion of newspaperdom, you know, I'm sure you believe in the First Amendment, so you understand that people can say bad things; it's the same way with other behaviors. In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people, who have abhorrent behavior. But, if we're civilized people, we publicly criticize that and don't belong to those groups, we don't associate with those people.
Interviewer: But it's different with race, because for, certainly for 100 years, uh, discrimination based on race was codified under federal law.
Paul: Exactly. It's institutionalized. And that's why we had to end all of the institutional racism and, um, I have, uh, I'm in favor completely of that.