Watching Rand Paul on the Rachel Maddow show makes at least one thing clear: Rand Paul is a purist.
Not in the racial sense but in the philosophical sense. He can't intellectually reconcile giving the right to private business owners to turn back gun-toting patrons, but not giving them the right to turn back patrons based on race.
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Apparently the "Commerce Clause" isn't clear enough to make the distinction in rights. In order to be philosophically consistent, we must give the right to business owners to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and expression of their views, as intolerable as they may be.
As a working philosopher myself, I'd like to offer Dr. Paul a few ways out of his cerebral dilemma.
The Walk and Chew Gum Resolution Well, I had this great idea. Why don't we decide, in the spirit of the great society that we are, that business owners can turn back people with guns AND cannot turn back people for racial, sexual, or sectarian reasons? I know this might be a stretch for a species that has accomplished little more than everything from the Pyramids to the Large Hadron Collider, but so the not-racist Rand Paul can sleep well at night and still win the votes of his not-racist constituents, it's worth that one in a million shot. And if this doesn't work...
The It's Good Enough For Rock and Roll Resolution Rand Paul mentioned that he liked 90% of the Civil Rights Act, but it's that 10% that has him wondering whether he could support the whole legislation. I know this flies contrary to the kind of sincere intellectual integrity that ignores the visible spectrum, but what if he agreed, since Meatloaf assures us that "two out of three ain't bad," that nine out of ten is pretty darn good? Politics is the art of the possible, and a lot more intellectual integrity is sacrificed in slaughtering 90% of something genuinely good than in swallowing the remaining tenth.
The Shades of Gray Resolution Admittedly, this last method of resolving Paul's intellectual conundrum is the most obscure and abstract, but it's just that element that might get Paul really excited. Going back to the dreaded Commerce Clause -- you know, that vitally central one around which the entire US Constitution revolves -- we apply a rating scale, such as 1 to ten, that reflects the degree of authority the government has over various private businesses, based on the unavoidable fact they do benefit from government spending, law enforcement, and security. We then apply a similar rating to every kind of action business owners might take, such as to refuse certain patrons, refuse to hire certain kinds of people, refuse guns in their establishments. We then compare that to the actionable quotient of the patrons themselves. We then divide each figure by 11, the number of States that ceded from the Union in defense of slavery, but then multiply the initial government rating by the GNP and then divide it by the GDP of the State in question. We then have lunch at KFC or Bennigans, depending on the flip of a coin. After lunch, we figure out a way to deal with the population explosion, peaking oil reserves and propagating oil leaks, and global warming and try to be nice to each other.
Um, what were we talking about?
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