Friday, May 21, 2010
Sticks and Stones....
Libertarian Rand Paul, son of Congressman Ron Paul, won the Republican Primary for Kentucky's Senate Seat this week. Since he is now in the national spotlight, NBC's Rachel Maddow questioned him about his views on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Paul opposes parts of the Act; he believes a private business owner should be free to practice racial discrimination if he so chooses. To be fair, he is NOT advocating they do so. He just doesn't think Congress should criminalize such actions.
This is a classic instance of "Locke being let out of the lock box." In such a view, all human relationships are reduced to calculation, contract, and consent. Libertarians of this stripe think autonomous individuals should be free to do whatever they please short of harming one another; 'harm' being defined in a rather narrow sense. The only type of harm they recognize is PHYSICAL harm. You can see this assumption underlies Paul's view of racial discrimination. A white private business owner who discriminates against an African American is not assaulting him and so is not "harming" him.
Hopefully, Paul's troubling comments will force us to rethink the old saw about "sticks and stones..." and develop a fuller understanding of what it means to hurt someone.