Kentucky Senatorial candidate Rand Paul's comments about the Civil Rights Act refuse to go away. And it's actually a good thing. It is important that we know exactly what people in positions of power think about such issues.
Paul has since said that the controversy over his views are simply the result of critics trying to 'trash' his campaign. The facts are the facts though. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow asked him a very direction question -- "Do you think that a private business has the right to say we don't serve black people?" -- to which Rand Paul answered an unequivocal 'yes'.
While many have been outraged by his views I have not been. For a start, he sounds ridiculous and while he believes that the topic of private vs. public ownership should be considered intellectually (and indeed it should), there is little intellectual about his perspective on this issue. It is not well thought out, nor well considered, and if it is just a Libertarian perspective, it makes Libertarians look ideologically extreme.
It is contradictory and nonsensical to say you don't believe in discrimination but that people should have the right to discriminate should they choose to just so that they can have freedom of speech. If you believe that people should have the right, then to some degree you do believe in it. And if he believes that restaurants should have the right to not serve black people, he pretty much believes that black people should be denied entry from any private business -- which would be pretty much the majority of the places that we go to every day.
In any case, I always consider it a positive when someone with such views shows their true colors, particularly someone in a position of power and influence. There is nothing worse than a closet racist.
Perhaps what people have found shocking is not that Paul has such views -- surely we cannot be naive enough to believe that every person, including politicians, is free from discriminatory attitudes -- but that he expressed them. Nowadays it is highly unusual for people who support discrimination to openly say that they do. And that is seen as a good thing since we think that not hearing about such views means they are not there, which is far from the truth.
It is much harder to tackle covert discrimination. I would rather people express such views in public than pretend. So I thank Dr. Paul for revealing himself.