This Whole Rand Paul…Thing. Part 2

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Before I begin, I’d like to give a brief shout out to Karen M., who was kind enough to provide me with all sorts of linkage to the Rand Paul sources. Though I think Rachel Maddow covered the issue pretty sufficiently. It’s really painful to watch — and I wouldn’t do it while eating. Rand Paul seems pretty inexperienced in dodging interview questions; either that or Rachel Maddow was particularly adamant about getting an answer from him on this.

Jenny, Don’t be Hasty

It’s very easy for people on both sides of this issue to make assumptions about their respective parties and their opponents’ opinions that are unfounded. As such, it is doubly important for us to try and be aware of those assumptions before we go into a debate on any question involving why. To get any answer that is meaningful, we have to be willing to assume only the best of either side and then see what we can interpret from their actions. Before I make my opinion on the questions I raised last time, I would like to say a couple of things. Firstly, Rachel Maddow, as I understand it, is a widely respected journalist/host by conservatives and liberals alike and from what I can tell by the interview she conducted herself with all of the integrity that I would expect of a political commentator of her caliber.  She was tough on Paul, would not take his dodging, and pressed him for an answer as a good host should. Paul was clumsy in searching for his answers, but I think he made his point clear enough: I think people are asking me this question because they want to call me racist so I will lose this election. I think Maddow would have been wiser to try and alleviate that fear of his and try to make him understand why the question was important and relevant.

That being said, I am still unconvinced that Paul is being pressed on this issue for any other reason than for people to deem him racist. It is, I think, why people want to know about this and thus why Rachel Maddow was so thirsty for an answer. Her job is to get people the knowledge that they want and need.  She did her job well, though not as well as she could have.

In the comments of the previous post, many people brought up the GLBT rights’ movement and how asking about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is relevant to that movement. Perhaps this is so; however, I do not think that this is why people really want to know. The main forms of discrimination being fought against, actively, in the GLBT movement is over marriage and over discrimination in the military. As those are the issues on the legislative plate and those are issues of governmental discrimination — Paul has already stated his opinion on that. He is against it. Vehemently.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot of movement to get Title VII (not so much II) extended to homosexuals. It’s met with some succe

ss, but not much. However, those battles are being fought in courts, not in the legislature. Out of Paul’s domain. I don’t think that the question is relevant in today’s legislature and as such I really think it is unfair for people to keep harping on this. I think that there are some who simply trying to keep Paul out of the Senate. Certainly not all but a good bit.

The Issue Itself

Ah ha. Yes. I am going to talk about the question itself and by the end of it, I will have a decision on whether or not I would have accepted title II of the Civil Rights Act. Before I do, however, I will do what Rand Paul did and make some self-saving statements first.

I hate very few things in this world, but one of them is racism. Racism and prejudice. I think that there are very few things that are more ridiculous, stupid, disgusting, vile, and potentially evil, when actively done. It is one of the worst things for the development of people — both the victims and perpetrators of racism. It’s a sickness, a disease, and it’s something that I hope to take steps to cure in this world before my life is over. My aim in my discussion of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is to objectively look at the issue, weigh both sides, and come up with an informed decision on it. My opinion is definitely debatable, arguable, and even falsifiable. I welcome any and all discussion on it.

So let’s do this.

Competing Rights

The reason why Title II is a politically divisive issue to anyone who really pays attention to it is because it takes preference decidedly between two equally important rights: property rights and civil rights. Obviously, as it is the Civil Rights Act, it chose civil rights over property. However, I think it is arguable that that is the right thing to do. It is also an issue that very clearly shows the difference between conservatives and liberals in America.

Property rights are implicit in the 5th Amendment in our Constitution. It states that “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Clearly property is something important. For conservatives, telling someone that they couldn’t disallow a type of person into their business is very similar to saying the same thing about their homes. It doesn’t matter whether you think my practice of not allowing people with black hair into my home is abhorrent or not — it’s my home and I’ll do with it what I please. In the same way, a business is the sole property of those who own it. They buy it, put hard work into it, they usually own or lease the land, etc. It is theirs in the same way that a house is. As such, many conservatives may feel/have felt that the government telling them what to do with their property was an invasion of their rights. And they’d be right.

However, the government guarantees other kinds of rights that are just as important. Civil Rights is one of them. I think many people, myself included would put Civil Rights under the unenumerated rights, but ultimately falls under the Liberty category. You are free to do what you please and associate with whom you like. Simply because it is not spelled out in the Constitution does not make these rights any less important.

Conservatives and liberals — if both groups could agree that these rights exist and are just which is doubtful — certainly do not agree that these sets of rights are equal. And therein lies our controversy.

A conservative, I think, sets property rights above the civil rights. Or, rather, if one is forced to choose between them, a conservative would choose property rights, no matter how hard they struggled. Liberals, I think, are generally less supportive of property rights as a whole, and as such chose hands-down government intervention into property in the name of preserving those rights.

I think that this division of rights is what divides many Libertarians on the issue. For many, I think, these rights are equal. How does one — how can one — choose between two equally important rights?

My Choice

This is the controversy I have been struggling with, for as long as I have heard of this debate.  I do think, however, I can say with some confidence that I would attempt to strike down Title II (and potentially Title VII) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Does that make me a conservative? Gods, I hope not. I do not in any way consider myself conservative — I care too strongly about my social views to call myself such.  My main reason for “choosing” to strike down Title II would be simply because I do not believe that forcing people to integrate solves racism. I have never believed that competent, adult, human beings can be externally habituated into not being racist. They are too set in their ways.

I think that integrating the schools would have made a big difference in the fight for integrating our whole society. As children grew up around people of different races, they become more tolerant to it. Yes, it would have been slower, but I think ultimately it would have been more effective. I think convincing people to your way of thinking is ultimately, in the long run, more effective than forcing them to act like they believe you.  I want, very badly, for people to judge others on the content of their character — but I want that change to be lasting and effective and deep. I want people to change, not the circumstances that they live in.

It is a hard choice. I’m sure it was hard for the men who signed it into law. But that is where I stand — albeit not very firmly.

Some Final Notes

Unlike many pieces of legislation, I do not think that the CRA of 1964 was unconstitutional or a misuse of federal power. I think that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is probably one of the last legitimate uses of the Commerce Clause. Disallowing people from your business makes a huge difference in interstate commerce. I think that it probably cripples it. See the Alabama Bus  Boycott. As such, I perhaps disagree with Title II of the CRA philosophically, but not legally.  I do not have a problem with it being instituted now, but perhaps would have had some serious discussions about getting it passed.

Also, there are many different ways to approach this issue, and I hope that if you have the time, you’ll go and look at the blog posts I put on Part one of this discussion. The insights are very interesting and they look at things in a bit of a different way.

~V.A. Luttrell (who had way too many thoughts on this issue)