May 20th, 2010
04:07 PM ET
13 years ago

Paul in 2002: 'A free society' must allow private discrimination

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Kentucky Senate hopeful Rand Paul is under fire for his remarks about the 1964 Civil Rights Act."](CNN) - Long before he was a Republican candidate for Senate in Kentucky, Bowling Green opthamologist Rand Paul penned a letter to his local newspaper defending the rights of private businesses to discriminate based on race.

The 2002 letter, flagged Thursday by a liberal-leaning blog in Kentucky, was in response to a Bowling Green Daily News editorial supporting the Federal Fair Housing Act, a bill Paul said most would support "at first glance."

"Most citizens would agree that it is wrong to deny taxpayer-financed, 'public' housing to anyone based on the color of their skin or the number of children in the household," he wrote.

But as he did in controversial interviews Wednesday with NPR and MSNBC, Paul made a distinction between the rights of private and public entities when it comes to the application of federal law.

"Should it be prohibited for public, taxpayer-financed institutions such as schools to reject someone based on an individual's beliefs or attributes?," he asked in the letter. "Most certainly. Should it be prohibited for private entities such as a church, bed and breakfast or retirement neighborhood that doesn't want noisy children? Absolutely not.

"Decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered. As a consequence, some associations will discriminate," he continued.

Paul wrote that private groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and the Boy Scouts should be allowed to include or exclude whomever they choose.

"A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination – even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin," he wrote.

"It is unenlightened and ill-informed to promote discrimination against individuals based on the color of their skin," he added. "It is likewise unwise to forget the distinction between public (taxpayer-financed) and private entities. A society that forgets this distinction will ultimately lose the freedoms that have evolved and historically been attached to private ownership."

Filed under: 2010 • Kentucky • Popular Posts • Rand Paul
soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. Jonesy

    Rand Paul=a drag, RuPaul=Dragqueen...i wish RuPaul had been elected in Kentucky..

    May 20, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Just when you thought is was safe to consider yourself the media's darling....

    everyone say it with me: OOOOOOOPS!!!!!!

    Hey Paul, you'r esupposed to keep it a secret that you're a card-carrying hood-head.

    May 20, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. jerseylou

    WOW.....If you are a woman are so called person of color you wouldn't want this thing you call a Doctor near your eyes.

    May 20, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    The man is absolutely correct.

    A government is a thing of all the people, paid for, nominally, by all the people, and must therefore be accessible to all the people and treat all the people identically.

    Non-government entities, whether individuals, voluntary associations of individuals, collective organisations of individuals, or anything similar, are under no such obligation.

    Examples are legion. I strongly doubt that the Girl Scouts of America counts any boys among its membership; I doubt that the Congressional Black Caucus has any white members.

    Being racist, individually or collectively, may not be cool, but it's not illegal, nor should it be.

    May 20, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. gary

    so a whites only restaurant or water fountain would be fine with Rand Paul? Is that what Kentucky wants? They must be proud to have a candidate with such racist views.

    May 20, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. Shucks

    Who determines what is and what isn't private. This looney is going to take us back 100 years, or try to start a civil war. Great going Kentucky. You have now brought another dysfunctional racist politician into the limelight. His father held pretty much the same views as this nutjob. Why do you think Americans except for those would be now tea baggers ever supported him?

    May 20, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. LAL

    I applaud his candor. Rather I agree or not, at least he does not appear to play petty politics and speaks his mind rather than what the 'party platform' tells him is right or wrong.

    May 20, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but

    Predictable, coming from a cat who was named after everyone's favorite second rate romance novelist. To take his logic further, perhaps private employers should be allowed to reject job applicants based on their skin color. Have a nice day!

    May 20, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. ohioannie

    This is a hurtful policy direction. It suggests that we might once more have restaurants turning people away based on color. I hate to think of children once more subjected to that type of insult and degradation in the name of private property rights (or whatever other lame excuse one can come up with). Too many people have fought too hard, and too many people have lost their lives to turn this page. Let us not turn back toward indifference and injustice. Let us move on - not turn back.

    May 20, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. Kevin from Texas

    I generally disagree with Mr. Paul on this point, but I like the strength and integrity of his argument. However, I'm not sure what he's railing against. Private organizations are allowed some level of discrimination. The golf club that sponsors the Masters excludes women, do they not? There are gated retirement communities that exclude families with children are there not. Where we probably disagree is that Mr. Paul probably thinks it's okay for a privately owned shopping mall to not let in fat people or people named Rand. However, these entities, while private, operate in the public good and with the consent of the community (often through tax breaks and other incentives paid for by the entire community, including the obese and those named Rand.) So, as a liberal, I would warn my friends not to laugh this guy off, but instead to engage him in a serious discussion about public vs. private and about the extent of government intrustion.

    May 20, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. Twainland

    Looks like the beginning of the end.

    May 20, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. carl coleman

    We have just recently approved two justices to the supreme court that voted to allow individual rights to be compared to coporations when it comes to campaign financing. We need to be more discriminating when individuals like Rand Paul present themselves for public office. Democratics had best grow some backbone and call out each and every idologue like Paul . A free society cannot afford more like those two justices. This is not the 1950s.

    May 20, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  13. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Those statements don't sound discriminatory. They are discriminatory! I wonder does his father share the same belief.

    May 20, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. John

    Alcoholics Anonymous and Boy Scouts? Are you serious?

    Ladies and gentleman, your Tea Party representative from the state of Kentucky! What a great and increasingly insane country we live in!

    May 20, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. Ben in Texas

    A lot has been made of Rand Paul's views on the rights of businessmen, which boil down to "ain't nobody's business if I do". However, his inconsistencies are what bother me most. While he thinks government should totally leave business alone, he thinks it's okay for government to be in your bedroom and come between you and your doctor. Want to be intimate with someone of the same gender? Decide that you need to terminate a pregnancy? Rand Paul says NO!

    His philosophy is that government should not be involved in regulating businesses, but it should be regulating and punishing individual behavior. In Rand-world, businesses are the new individuals, and people become subservient to business and government.

    May 20, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. Nothing is too big to fail

    I agree with Paul. Look at the Black Congressional Caucus, this group serves what's in the best interest of African Americans. Iif there was a White Congessional Caucus there would be anger.

    Another attempt to discredit a person who sees people as equals and not categories. We all have freedom to love, hate, laugh, etc.. at what we want. That's what freedom is and sometimes it's not nice, but maybe I offend what others believe, it's a 2-way street.

    May 20, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. Tiffany

    Wow, and people say racism is dead.

    May 20, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. Alexis

    Limbaugh, Palin, Paul–the new Three Stooges. Trouble is they aren't funny.

    May 20, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. Smith in Oregon

    Rand Paul's primary victory in Kentucky means there are still a sizable number of American citizens in Kentucky that wish they were living in the land of Cotton and miss the Dixie Flag flying overhead.

    In a all white men's golfing country club, Rand Paul repeatedly when asked by a reporter refused to denounce a private business's right to ban Women, Minority's and Gays on their premises, go figure!

    May 20, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. Jann in Denver

    Wow, what a shocker! A Tea Party racist.

    May 20, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. Seth

    Praise be to God for such common sense leaders as this. We can by
    our Christian nature defeat bigotry and hatred and enrich the lives of
    those around us.

    The government (is a myth). Who are they? Where are they? What
    are THEIR values. Only individual liberty and conscience can rule
    a great nation such as ours.

    Thank you Rand Paul, you are teaching me and others how to begin to
    think again.

    May 20, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. cardog

    Rand Paul is advocating the return to what America was before the Civil Rights Act was made law. Even after it was the law of the land there were die-hard racist who continued the fight for "White Only" clubs, organizations, swimming pools etc....
    The main reason there is so little examples of this racist thinking today is because most white people who feel they are better, superior to other people based on their color or race, is because it's taboo to be that way publically. That does not mean that cancer is not still there.

    We are about two generations away from this still being a major issue in our country. Hispanics are gradually becoming a force to reckon with in the U.S. and should they also get over themselves and join with with other people(s) of color, this nonsense will disappear quicker.
    I say that the Hispanics need to get over themselves because there are a lot of upper income Mexicans in this country that are as racist if not more so, then whites.

    May 20, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. Matt Campbell

    WOW. What a terrible ideology.

    May 20, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. Ruty

    Has America gone nutz? This man is NUTZ–just like his father. When is America going to "get it"? But remember McCain chose Palin!!!!!! God help this country. It looks like America has been taking stupid pills.

    May 20, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. john in Cal

    private discrimination? Does that mean that a cab driver can refuse to carry you for what ever reason he wants or makes up. Or a neighbor can refuse me access to his walkway in front of his house because he doesn't like my politicts? Come on and be real. any kind of discrimination is and should be illegal.

    May 20, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
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