MAJOR UPDATES: Rand Paul has responded to the controversy over his appearance on Maddow's show. Click here for the latest.
Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul believes that the federal government blurred the lines between public and private property when it passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and made it illegal for private businesses to discriminate on the basis of race.
Paul explained his views on "The Rachel Maddow Show" Wednesday, just one day after walloping his opponent in Kentucky's Republican primary.
Paul told Maddow that he agrees with most parts of the Civil Rights Act, except for one (Title II), that made it a crime for private businesses to discriminate against customers on the basis of race. Paul explained that had he been in office during debate of bill, he would have tried to change the legislation. He said that it stifled first amendment rights:
Maddow: Do you think that a private business has a right to say that 'We don't serve black people?'
Paul: 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 in this debate is not getting 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 that freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn't mean we approve of it...
Paul argued that Maddow's questions weren't practical, but were instead abstract. She asked Paul to tell that to protesters who were beaten in their struggle for equal rights:
Maddow:... How about desegregating lunch counters?
Paul: Well what it gets into then is if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says 'well no, we don't want to have guns in here' the bar says 'we don't want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other.' Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion...
Maddow: Well, it was pretty practical to the people who had the life nearly beaten out of them trying to desegregate Walgreen's lunch counters despite these esoteric debates about what it means about ownership. This is not a hypothetical Dr. Paul.
Paul will face Democratic Senate candidate and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway in the general election to replace Republican Sen. Jim Bunning on November 2, 2010.
WATCH: Maddow interviews Paul