In early book, Rep. Ron Paul criticized AIDS patients, minority rights and sexual harassment victims
December 30th, 2011
10:07 AM ET
11 years ago

In early book, Rep. Ron Paul criticized AIDS patients, minority rights and sexual harassment victims

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - Texas Rep. Ron Paul has distanced himself from a series of controversial newsletters from the 1980s and 1990s that bore his name and included inflammatory and racially charged language.

As the newsletters burst into view, first during his 2008 presidential bid and again in recent weeks after he climbed to the front of the Republican race in Iowa, Paul has blamed the writings on ghostwriters. He said he was not aware of the "bad stuff," as he described it.

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But one of Paul's own books, published solely under his name, contains several passages that could be problematic as he attempts to push his libertarian message into the political mainstream.

In his 1987 manifesto "Freedom Under Siege: The U.S. Constitution after 200-Plus Years," Paul wrote that AIDS patients were victims of their own lifestyle, questioned the rights of minorities and argued that people who are sexually harassed at work should quit their jobs.

The slim, 157-page volume was published ahead of Paul's 1988 Libertarian Party presidential bid and touches on many of the themes he continues to hammer on the stump.

Returning again and again to the of concept of "liberty," he hails the virtues of the gold standard, attacks the Federal Reserve and defends the rights of gun-owners.

But the book, re-issued in 2007 during Paul's last presidential bid with a cover photograph of an ominous SWAT Team, has so far escaped scrutiny amid the latest furor over his newsletters.

In one section of the book, Paul criticized people suffering from AIDS or other contagious diseases for demanding health insurance coverage.

"The individual suffering from AIDS certainly is a victim - frequently a victim of his own lifestyle - but this same individual victimizes innocent citizens by forcing them to pay for his care," Paul wrote.

In another chapter on the rights of individuals outside of government – the central theme of Paul's libertarian philosophy - he sharply criticized the "absurdity" of politicians who try to bestow differing rights on various social and ethnic groups.

It's dangerous to craft a separate set of rights for groups like Hispanics, African-Americans, children, employees and the homeless, Paul wrote.

"Until all these terms are dropped and we recognize that only an individual has rights the solution to the mess in which we find ourselves will not be found," Paul explained.

"Every year new groups organize to demand their 'rights,'" he continued. "White people who organize and expect the same attention as other groups are quickly and viciously condemned as dangerous bigots. Hispanic, black, and Jewish caucuses can exist in the U.S. Congress, but not a white caucus, demonstrating the absurdity of this approach for achieving rights for everyone."

Paul also defended the rights of an individual to "control property and run his or her business as he or she chooses," without interference from "the social do-gooder."

In a passage first flagged by the Houston Chronicle in 2007, Paul then claimed that sexual harassment should not be a violation of one's employment rights.

"Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity," Paul wrote. "Why don't they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable."

Paul's campaign manager Jesse Benton defended the book and said the candidate "has been speaking out for decades that rights do not come from belonging to a group."

"Rights come because we are all individuals, endowed by our creator, and Americans must look beyond race or creed and recognize that we all deserving of the same Liberty," Benton told CNN in an email. "This truth is a tenant of natural law and the only way we will achieve a color blind and truly free society."

Also see:

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Filed under: 2012 • Ron Paul
soundoff (266 Responses)
  1. Andrew

    Exactly the reason ROMNEY 2012 makes the most sense. Paul is too old and too backwards in his opinions.

    December 30, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. BrooklynChick

    MSM shoots and misses .... again.


    December 30, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. john

    @Seattle Sue: You are wrong on both points. Ron Paul is not a racist. This is a smear and an outright lie lacking any evidence or credibility. He did not write the news letters and what is presented in this article is nothing more than Ron Paul stating a version of what Dr. King said: "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." In other words, treat people as individuals and not as members of arbitrary groups. Your other point, RP collecting $115k/yr from the government in retirement, is factually incorrect. Ron Paul opted out of the lucrative congressional pension because he is a principled man and didn't want to rip off the taxpayers.

    December 30, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. LMC

    Ron Paul seems like just another person who really doesn't care about anyone else. There are many people who need some help because they lost their job through no fault of their own or became ill through no fault of their own. I'm a teacher and often catch viruses from the children I work with. I suppose I don't deserve health coverage for that because I should choose another line of work away from the children I am dedicated to teaching! There are also people who have made mistakes but are trying to work their way back out of them. I think Paul would have little sympathy for those as well. His insistence on the gold standard is very nearsighted. All it takes is for the price of gold to tank and our economy tanks as well. Adherence to the gold standard is blamed by many well known economists for lengthening the Great Depression.

    December 30, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. down on Sue

    Seattle Sue wrote " will still pay him about $115,000.00 per year plus health care, until his death"
    Ron Paul is one of only 2 congressmen that did not sign up for the pension pay offered to members of congress. He is the real deal. when it comes to what is and isn't the job of the tax payer.

    December 30, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. Gamer Geek

    So many get it, so few truly don't nor ever will, which is fine. If you make a choice, KNOW BEFORE HAND that there will be consequences, good and bad. You are a person, an American, Not an ethnicity, a religion, or the contents of your wallet. If that's racist, if expecting us to hold up our end as Americans is racist, then WE ALL ARE, because we all have expectations and perceptions on the other guy, that we would never place on ourselves.

    December 30, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  7. Lester Brown

    Everyone is running scared of Ron Paul now that the beast feels threatened. I didn't know there were so many newsites and workers of the beast to keep average human minds at bay. Interesting. Goodness will always prevail in the end.

    December 30, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. Noah

    I am outraged that he suggests people are responsible for their own actions and that belonging to the right minority group doesn't give you rights other individuals don't have! He should repudiate his pro-liberty stances. Truly disgusting. /sarcasm This is a ridiculous article. I don't have a right to force others to provide me labor and merchandize for free, and neither does anyone else!

    December 30, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    RonnieReagan wrote:

    My god – these people are reaching back decades to find inconsistencies, when with the other candidates you can reach back only a matter of months to find them glaringly swaying back and forth on the important issues of today.
    You don't need to go back 20 years. You can go back 20 months to the spring of 2010 and listen to Ron Paul defend bigotry as freedom of speech when his son Rand got in trouble for stating that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 violated the freedom of speech.

    Paul had indicated that if a store owner wants to turn away people of a certain race from entering his store, then that is the store owner's right. So, a grocery store can deny minorities food. A landlord can deny minorites housing. A hospital can deny minorities medical care. And a politician named Paul will defend the right of all of the above to do so. No wonder he is so popular with hate groups, big and small.

    December 30, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Marry

    …before you get too excited about Dr. Ron Paul – do a little research. You really think you can solve the problems of today with taking the country way back to 1950? Come on….

    December 30, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Brad

    Why does CNN "moderate" comments?....Inquiring minds would like to know.

    December 30, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. Marry

    Ron Paul has convictions that got stuck in the 1940-50 (the good old days as pictured by Norman Rockwell where “some” people knew their places – back in the bus and others got killed in unsafe work places). He has never been able to adjust to the present and from his son opinions, I wonder how he raised him. Mr. Paul has no direction into the future that would be feasible. He is no different than the other GOP/TP types when it comes to what he wants to achieve. Protection of the rich establishment and his specialty: explaining to the middle class and the poor why it is much better to fend for themselves and leave the money/matters to the rich! He calls that “personal responsibility” and funny, a democracy has really nothing to do with what the responsibility of an elected Government should be – like work in the interest of all people?

    December 30, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. Heath

    @Seattle Sue

    Don't worry. Ron Paul has refused to participate in the congressional pension system because he finds it immoral.

    "US Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) today reaffirmed his opposition to what he calls the "immoral" congressional pension system by refusing to participate in it. While serving in Congress from 1976 to 1984, Paul chose not to participate in the system, despite a taxpayer-funded pay-out which is more lucrative than any private system. He said high-dollar perks like the pension are areas that could be safely cut immediately, without hurting a single American taxpayer. "

    December 30, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. DDanny1

    It would be great if Ron Paul were elected POTUS. We'll get rid of all these stupid government regulations. Think of how cheap airfares will be when airlines can decide how much maintenance aircraft need, how much experience or rest their pilots need, and will be able to get rid of those pesky unions who are always complaining when the airlines tell the pilots to carry minimum fuel to save money. The free market will weed the greedy out of the business. Once an airline crashes a few jetliners, most people will quit flying them, the airline will go out of business and the executives will have to go find new investors to open a new airline with a different name.
    The only people we can trust as much as Ron Paul is Corporate America. It's not like they've ever tried to take advantage of us before.

    December 30, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. Michael

    Another GOP'er preaching taking personal responsibilty, except when it comes to himself....

    December 30, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Gaster

    the only thing wrong with any of this is the attempted spin on what he is trying to convey, his actual quoted words are the truth and far from offensive!

    keep trying and I will keep standing by Ron Paul!

    December 30, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. David

    Paul is outspoken on many issues and controversy comes with the territory. You have to admit he tells the truth even when it's not politically correct. That's why he's earned my vote, among many other reasons.

    December 30, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. Gamer Geek

    Groups don't have rights. Only Individuals have rights. This bears repeating in every forum, and under every roof!

    December 30, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. Brandon

    It's another attack on Ron Paul, CNN is expecting people to view this story as something negative on his part when in fact there was probably never any racial slurs, derogatory language, or anything racially threatening in that book to begin with.

    Ready to face the facts:

    December 30, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Don

    This article presumes that the reader / voter is a complete moron. His views are common sense. The AIDS remark was also made in a completely different social climate. AIDS was not well received at that time by most people. It was SHOCKING when Magic Johnson came forward on the issue.

    December 30, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Joe M.

    While I disagree with Paul on many issues, characterizing his (essentially) attack on affirmative action as an "assault on minority rights" is ridiculous. It is a legitimate debate to have whether or not affirmative action has any place in our society at this point.

    December 30, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Lethalmik wrote:

    Just look at how CNN dishonestly edited the Gloria Borger interview to make RP look bad. Now they pick up a book that is actually telling the truth based on sound logic and they engage in argumentum ad hominem without actually addressing his arguments and showing WHY they are wrong.
    First of all, this article does not accuse Paul of being a racist. The article reports what is in his book, and some of Paul's past remarks about the book. Second, if the article went to the lengths that you request, then article couldn't be considered news and would be on an opinion page. The MSM doesn't confuse its' audiences by mixing facts with opinions.

    December 30, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. once upon a horse

    I hope Paul not only wins Iowa but goes all the way to super Tuesday...need something to keep this boring race interesting

    December 30, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  24. Fielding Mellish

    Paul is flat out dangerous and delusional. People don't change.

    December 30, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. Woman In California

    Want to know the BIGGEST reason I would NEVER vote for Ron Paul? YOU. His followers are too angry and much to scary to join. Just read how upset they become when ANYONE mentions his name. No Paul's for me.

    December 30, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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