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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rand Paul and The Lunch Counter

Rand Paul and The Lunch Counter

Today, Rand Paul says that it was a mistake for him to appear on the Rachel Maddow Show last night; even though he chose to show to launch his Senate campaign last year. His regret stems from statements he made in regards to government making it illegal for businesses to racially discriminate; he has a problem with that, claiming that it is unconstitutional (a 1st Amendment violation).

I have said it once, and I'll say it again: I have nothing against racists and bigots speaking their minds. This is America, and we all have the freedom to say whatever we want; it's one of the things that makes this country so great. I remember about 13 years ago, in Bayonne, NJ, going into a diner with a friend of mine; a fair-skinned Hispanic girl. There were 3 other customers in the entire place. We sat down and waited for the waitress to take our order. And waited. And waited. We sat there for 15 minutes, and it became clear that they were not going to serve us. So we left. Did that suck? Yes, it did. That was in 1997. We weren't being loud, or rude, or obnoxious or anything like that. We ended up going to another diner across the street, and we told our waitress what had happened. She shook her head and said "I'm not surprised. They're idiots." And that's all racists are anyway: idiots. They clearly let their emotional and intellectual defects get in the way of making money.

Was what they did illegal? It sure was. Would it have been against their First Amendment rights to report them? I don't think so; it's against the law. But that won't stop people from denying service because they don't want Blacks, or Jews, or Asians, or whatever other ethnic group in their place of business.

On the flip side, I walked into a beauty salon with a girlfriend of mine; she was White, and the beauty salon was Black owned and operated, and located in Jersey City, NJ. We waited there for about 20 minutes, and not one person working their acknowledge us; there was only one other customer there, 4 stylists, and one receptionist. Not until my girlfriend decided that she wanted to leave-- the receptionist behind the counter said "Oh, you're leaving?" Yeah, asshole, we're leaving. Neither one of  us said that, but we both thought it. It was bad enough to deny her service, but to act like you didn't know why she was leaving....stupid.

How about THIS story: a friend of mine (White) is a fan of all things movies. He was really interested in finding a specific Bollywood movie, and decided to go into an Indian-owned video store in Jersey City, NJ. As soon as he walked into the store, the man behind the counter gestured toward him, saying "No-no-no-no-no, no White movies here! No White movies!" My friend was not only confused, but he was insulted, but still told him what movie he was looking for. The man said "No-no-no, not here! No White movies, please leave!"

These are all true stories, by the way. All happened within the last 10-12 years. All involving a variety of different people.

Okay, I'll tell you one more story. I was on South Street in Philadelphia, PA. South Street, for those who don't know, is a very young, hip place-- there was a song sang by The Orions that went "Where do all the hippies meet? South Street, South Street." Anyway, I walked into a store that sold cute little knick-knacks and things, with a girlfriend of mine (she was Hindi). The store was owned by Koreans. After about 5 minutes, my girlfriend grabbed me by the arm and said, "Come on, Charles-- we're leaving right now!" I had no idea what the hell was going on, until we were out of the store and she told me that the Korean woman in the store was following me and watching me the entire time I was in there. I hadn't even noticed.

These are not First Amendment issues. These are issues of people being bigoted assholes. Period. Sure, they can be reported. But most of all, people should just spread the word about these places. Let the market dictate what happens to them. When word gets out about how they treat people, and they start to lose business...well, that will do a lot more damage than trying to prove that someone is a racist. They would just lie about it anyway, so what difference does it really make?

I know Libretarians like Rand Paul want limited government involvement, but we need things like The Civil Rights Act. People, if left to their own devices, make stupid decisions about certain things-- particularly when it comes to social issues like race relations. Plenty of innocent people from all walks of life, and all races and ethnicities, are effected by this legislation-- not just Black and Brown folks...White folks (yes, you White folks too) can be protected just was well.

Many Libretarian views tend to clash a bit with the Constitution. This is one of them. People can't be equal, if they can be denied services because of their race, religion, or sexual orientation. If you say you believe in the American way of life, you believe in the constitution, but yet don't want Mexicans in your town, or Blacks in your restaurants, or Whites in your stores...that doesn't really work. And maybe you should think about whether this country is right for you.

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