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. Rollins Turner

    He's an ophthalmologist, not an opthamologist.

    May 20, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. Wisconsinite

    Oh, he is so toast! He will NEVER win another election . . . and that's a good thing for America!

    May 20, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. Turnabout is Fair Play

    May 20, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. Chas in Iowa

    Give him a white hood and be done with it. He's been beating around the bush about it, just put it out their. He was raised a racist and still is a racist and doesn't think there is anything wrong with being a racist.

    May 20, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. Nick

    The problems with this statement are pretty clear to me. If any private entity wants to discriminate then they should automatically be exempt from any public service and funding. The Boy Scouts of America do not have a right to discriminate because they recieve some federal money. Churchs don't have to pay taxes and get federal funding for their service programs which means they recieve a benefit from the American public and are therefore not allowed to discriminate. Anytime you are getting benefits from the public sector you have no right to discriminate against members of the public.

    May 20, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  6. Wake UP

    Well, there is plenty of discrimination. Look at all the hires and college admissions due to "quotas" and set asides for minorities. Whites get discriminated against every day.

    May 20, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. Karo77

    you never hear anyone complaining that Augusta National Golf course prohibits women members–it is because they are a private enterprise......Black Caucus prohibits white members–black panthers prohibit whites........Obama can't stand white men and seldom chooses them for jobs–unless of course, they make him look smart–like Biden..He also does not like disabled and challenged–remember the "special Olympics" remark? and, what about white policeman? I could go on and on–he is a divider–the worst the country has seen......

    May 20, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. once upon a horse

    as bad as it may sound I have to agree with Paul to the extent that private..and I stress PRIVATE organizations have the right to discriminate if they do not want a certain group of people in their sector. Certain groups do it all the time....African American groups, Hispanic groups, gay groups, groups that cater to women's all the same. If a private club only wants white males in their group they have every right to do so. In fact myself not being a white male I have little desire to go where I am not wanted nor accepted just to prove a point. But that again is the PRIVATE sector...public is different. Yet I think one of the last things any Tea Party candidate needs is to be associated with an ideology that can be perceived as being racist. They have an image problem along those lines as it is and I'm sure the left is going to run with this as far as they can.

    May 20, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  9. Divinity Newspaper

    So, at what point in your business growth do you begin to practice civility, ethics, and morality?

    May 20, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  10. ConsiderThis - FL

    This is an example of WHARPED THINKING. You can't have it both ways. Let's see, you want zero government, therefore the entire society would be "private", which means that everybody can discriminate against everybody for any and everything????????? What a crock. In his world, his life could depend on receiving a service from someone, and because that person wishes to discriminate against him because of the color of his skin or hair or eyes or his height or his weight or his upbringing or his or his or his... he'll be left to die. How rediculous.

    May 20, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  11. ellid

    As yet another Tea Party activist shows that "taking our country back" means those wonderful days when women shut up and birthed babies, non-whites knew their place, and the handicapped were shut up in institutions so the upstanding, God-fearing white men of American wouldn't be disturbed by the sight of the less than perfect.


    May 20, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. Grog in Ohio

    "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."

    Then I would suggest to Republican Senate Nominee Rand Paul, that when the church or B&B has a fire, they put it out themselves. When robbed, they investigate, arrest, prosecute and imprison the culprits themselves. The persons they discriminated against paid the taxes to support those services to society. If the business owner wants to opt out of society's responsibilities, then they opt out of its benefits too.

    May 20, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. What a joke!

    If this is what the tea party has to offer...GET THEM OUT OF OUR COUNTRY!!!

    May 20, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Basically, Paul will let any private company screw you anyway they want. Where have we seen that before? Let me see . . . Oh, yeah, periodically throughout history when regulations are relaxed. This guy is going nowhere.

    May 20, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  15. Justin P.

    Even if you accept the basic point of his argument, churches and any other organization that receives any form of government income – be that claiming non-profit status to escape taxes, using the organization's structure to qualify for certain forms of insurance, participate in community meetings which take place or make use of community or otherwise government funded resources – would hardly be purely 'private enterprise'. Especially given that corporations have been afforded the right to participate in the electoral process, this idea that private associations or businesses are insulated from the government and therefore outside its proper realm of influence is simply illogical.

    It in no way makes sense to say that a small business which makes use of special tax incentives (special tax incentives = government money), or a church that is afforded special tax status and receives federal money, should at the same time be afforded immunity from federal laws.

    Try again, when none of the groups that you mentioned receive any form of taxpayer money, and then maybe there could be a logical point to your view. Maybe.

    May 20, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. Coffee Has More Substance Than Tea

    I'm not ready to call Mr. Paul a racist ...yet but I don't need to. His response indicate that his logic is flawed.

    America gives is the land of opportunity and individual freedoms have the highest priority. All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights ... per our Declaration of Independence.

    It is un-American to suggest that a business ... which is not a person ... has the right to infringe upon the human ... even though the business is owned by one or more humans.

    Because the collective citizentry ... and their government ... provide actual and intangible benefits that allow the "business" to exist, rights of the individual can not be tread upon by a business.

    Rand Paul would have done well to say Civil Rights is settled law. He might adopt this for Roe-vs-Wade, Social Security / Medicare, the Americans With Disability Act, etc.

    May 20, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  17. Susan

    This man if elected would want to allow the Klu Kluz Clan to become a part of our government in some way......this man is a danger to American and to all Americans........but no worries.......both Democrats received more votes than he did and come November a Democrat will take Kentucy.........

    May 20, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. Michael Bindner

    Drs. Paul and their followers are wrong. Society can draw the line at regulating the conduct of individuals who serve the public and use public currency. Freedom can allow discrimination in admissions to private clubs, but once you admit all comers from any race, you must admit all comers from all races. Saying otherwise may have more to do with coalition politics than liberty.

    May 20, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  19. Blackmon

    He's not a racist but his ignorance would give cover to racists.

    May 20, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  20. emmett brown

    Great job Kentucky, maybe David Duke is available to be his running mate... Outragous.....

    May 20, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  21. Did You Know? . . .

    That the 1964 Civil Rights Act was challenged by the right wing as unconstitutional (sound familiar). The Supreme Court upheld it in the case Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States. The justification against the 10th Amendment attack (sound familiar) was the Commerce Clause in the Constitution (you know, the part the right wing doesn't read).

    Private businesses use products sent "in the stream of commerce" therefore Congress can pass laws (Civil Rights Act) to regulate them.

    Does Paul and his supporters think that the Heart of Atlanta case was wrongly decided? That's a real "journalism" question.

    May 20, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  22. Greg from Virginia

    I hope you RIGHT WING Idiots are happy with your choice. What a NUT CASE this Idiot is I hope he doesn't get elected, espically after comments like this, FAR RIGHT FRINGE HAS NO PLACE IN THIS FREE SOCIETY.....

    May 20, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. Me

    What's wrong with this?

    As a private organization one should be able to exclude or include anybody one wants. Only male golf club, only female swim club, black police organization, hispanic woman's organizations. All these exist and should be left alone. If people want to isolate themselves in these institutions, I find it unadvised but certainly not illegal.

    Did we, as a country, forget what Freedom really means?

    May 20, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  24. Pam

    Just WOW!
    He is out there a ways. Thanks for endorsing him Sarah. He is a gift to the Democrats.

    May 20, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  25. Incredulous

    Keep talking Rand Paul. You are really making the message of the Tea Party extremists abundantly clear to Americans. I didn't realize that the Founding Fathers were all about Me, Me, Me.

    May 20, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
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