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Ron Paul on Sexual Harassment

As controversy over his now-infamous newsletters continues to rage, CNN has dug up some passages from a book written by Paul in 1987 and reissued in 2007. From that book, here is how he views sexual harassment:

“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.”

He also has, I think, a very distorted view of how inalienable rights come to be protected:

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.”

Now, he’s partly right here. I have said many times, and believe very strongly, that all rights are individual. There is no such thing as group rights. But when we talk about gay rights or women’s rights, we are talking about individual rights. We are talking about rights that were denied to individuals on the basis of their placement in a particular group — gay people, black people, women, and so forth. So when those individuals band together to demand that the rights denied to them as individuals based on their identity as a group, that is, in fact, what he claims to support.

Comments

  1. jamessweet says

    The other thing about the individual rights thing is that while I think some meaningful debate could be had over whether some progressive policies constitute an undesirable “separate set of rights for groups like Hispanics, African-Americans,” etc., is he really saying that there shouldn’t be a “separate set of rights for…children”?! Um, I sort of think it’s obvious that, at least in some cases, children and adults need to have a different set of rights….

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    “Why don’t they quit once the so-called harassment starts?”

    Gosh, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because unemployment is not very profitable.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    “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.

    Then why does he want to take rights away from individuals and give them to the states?

  4. mingfrommongo says

    If it is “dangerous to craft a separate set of rights for groups”, as Paul claims, then corporations should not exist. Surely that’s not what he is arguing, although that would be consistent with increasing liberty for individuals.

  5. Tualha says

    I think what it comes down to is that, in true capital-L Libertarian fashion, he champions the right of business owners to be as bigoted as they want, which necessitates disparaging the right of their customers or employees to equal treatment. All of which is perfectly in character for a privileged and powerful white male conservative politician who’s never been on the receiving end of bigotry.

  6. FlickingYourSwitch says

    I would love to hear an explanation on why people other than the most crazy ones can possibly support Ron Paul. Has he ever been right or remotely sensible on more than one or two things in his life?

  7. says

    Ron Paul isn’t even partially right here, as you just demonstrated by quoting his own words. You only embarrass yourself when you try to salvage some pretense of credibility for him. He’s nothing but an uncaring con-man pandering to bigots who don’t want anyone to even admit that bigotry is real.

    RP doesn’t give a shit about individual rights; he’s just there to blather about “individual” this or that to discourage individuals from working together to fight large-scale injustice. It’s nothing but a thin ideological veneer for the same old divide-and-exploit strategy the powerful have always used to keep their power and avoid accountability.

  8. d cwilson says

    Gosh, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because unemployment is not very profitable.

    Don’t you know? On Planet Wingnuttia, the unemployed are all lazy welfare queens living high off the hard won sweat of good people like Dr. Paul. There reason why people are unemployed is because they don’t want to work, not because the job market is in the toilet.

    Paul’s advice to victims of harassment demonstrates just how out of touch he is with average Americans. Most people can’t afford to just walk off the job when their boss has them pinned against the copy machine, even when the job market is good. In fact, harassers bank their victims not being in a position to complain or quit. That’s why such legislation was passed in the first place.

    Of course, as an OB/GYN and congresscritter, he probably has never had to worry about whether they can pay next month’s rent or have to decide whether to buy food or pay the electric bill.

    And does he really think the local police are going to come running every time a supervisor grabs his secretary’s breast?

  9. Phillip IV says

    Employee rights are said to be valid

    Meaning he’s heard rumors, but he doesn’t believe them?

    White people who organize and expect the same attention as other groups

    …missed the point.

  10. harold says

    There is no such thing as group rights. But when we talk about gay rights or women’s rights, we are talking about individual rights.

    And Ron Paul is just blowing a dog whistle and engaging in a little deeply dishonest Orwellian distortion.

    His true meaning is clear. If a group of people are systematically denied rights for a ridiculous reason like skin tone/hair texture combination, and they ask for an end of systemic discrimination against their group, he will call that “asking for ‘group’ rights”, as a fig leaf mechanism for denying individual rights while simultaneously making pompous, hypocritical claims to support individual rights.

  11. d cwilson says

    Meaning he’s heard rumors, but he doesn’t believe them?

    One of the central tenets of Paul’s brand of libertarianism is that the only rights that truly exist are property rights. Therefore, employees only have rights so far as things might impact their propertyl. And if they don’t own any property, well, then they ARE property.

  12. says

    Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended…

    …but here’s Ron Paul defending them later in teh same sentence anyway…

    …but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem?

    Yep, that’s what “libertarianism” is: the powerful blaming their victims for the misery and injustices they cause.

    Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable.”

    This is one of the most despicable things about Ron Paul: he knows there’s a real injustice going on, he knows it’s bad and indefensible, and I’m sure he knows that Federal intervention is indeed a proven and effective remedy; but he doesn’t want people to have the power to do anything to correct the problem. There’s nothing even slightly “libertarian” about this old fraud; he’s a private-sector authoritarian.

  13. Sadie Morrison says

    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?

    His empathy is touching. Then again, in the Randian mindset that Paul embodies, empathy leads to Hitler.

  14. says

    Hispanic, black, and Jewish caucuses can exist in the U.S. Congress, but not a white caucus.

    Only as long as you don’t count the Republican Party.

  15. F says

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

    Well, duh. This is exactly why such less-privileged groups have to spend time demanding their damn rights be recognized, and why their rights need to be specifically protected by legislation. Otherwise, someone will always contend that it wasn’t the intent of the Founding Fathers™ that women and brown people and Jews and Muslims and anyone else not a Christian white male property owner should have any sort of rights or equal protection or the mere recognition that they are human.

  16. magistramarla says

    I am truly dismayed at the support that this old guy is getting from young active duty military members, like my son-in-law.
    My husband is career military, and he keeps sending the SOL information like yours that disproves what Paul is telling these young people.

  17. says

    “His empathy is touching. Then again, in the Randian mindset that Paul embodies, empathy leads to Hitler.”

    Sadie Morrison:

    Well played, well played! Godwinish but not a Godwin so it’s up to me.

    “…Otherwise, someone will always contend that it wasn’t the intent of the Founding Fathers™ that women and brown people and Jews and Muslims and anyone else not a Christian white male property owner should have any sort of rights or equal protection or the mere recognition that they are human.”

    Oh, yeah, well you know who thought a LOT of people were sub-human, that’s right!

    I was havin’ a slice this afternoon and CNN was on the box. The talkingshitheads were nattering on about the Iowa caucuses and pretty much saying that Paul was toast. I’m sure that CNN got twitterbombed by the Paulturds immediately after that segment.

  18. Michael Heath says

    magistramarla writes:

    I am truly dismayed at the support that this old guy is getting from young active duty military members, like my son-in-law.
    My husband is career military, and he keeps sending the SOL information like yours that disproves what Paul is telling these young people.

    I think the fact a lot of young people gravitated to Ron Paul is kind of a good thing, they were rejecting conservatism where most Americans didn’t and still don’t really know the negatives on Rep. Paul. I qualify that since it’s disturbing people are attracted to those who are economically and scientifically illiterate due to their sharing that quality.

    I’d be surprised if Paul’s political popularity lasts long or grows similar to the fall of Perry, Cain, Bachmann, and Palin. Like them he can’t withstand scrutiny. Paul’s case is also temporarily helped given all his competitors are horrible at acting authentic, consistent, moral, and principled whereas Rep. Paul is a very fine actor at playing this part, though even a little sustained light also reveals a true wingnut who can’t act his way out of that attribute. He simply can’t withstand our review of his rhetoric and therefore will never become more than a niche attraction. I’d even predict that if he wins Iowa and SC, it would hurt his positions even more than if he didn’t since the glare of the spotlight would produce even cognizance across voters of what a hateful wingnut he actually is.

  19. says

    Hispanic, black, and Jewish caucuses can exist in the U.S. Congress, but not a white caucus.

    And the fact that he’s utterly oblivious to why this is so is itself one of the reasons Hispanic, black and Jewish caucuses exist.

  20. juice says

    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?

    I like Paul overall, but there are some things about him, that he says or writes, that make me cringe. This is one of those things.

    If he wanted to say that federal sexual harassment legislation is not necessary because there are more effective or efficient avenues to handle the problem, then say that, but to say that the person being harassed bears some responsibility for it is just…dumb. Maybe he means that it’s their job to handle the problem, not the government’s, but that’s still not a good answer.

    It’s a situation where someone’s rights are being violated in a coercive manner, and if you’re going to have a government at all those are the types of things it should be involved in.

  21. says

    “If he wanted to say that federal sexual harassment legislation is not necessary because there are more effective or efficient avenues to handle the problem, then say that…”

    Apparently his lack of knowledge or his lack of honesty is no hindrance to your voting for him, so why the fuck would he do anything but what he does. He’s got several millions of idiots like you convinced that he’s a decent person instead of the fuckbag that he is.

  22. organon says

    “Now, he’s partly right here. I have said many times, and believe very strongly, that all rights are individual. There is no such thing as group rights. But when we talk about gay rights or women’s rights, we are talking about individual rights. We are talking about rights that were denied to individuals on the basis of their placement in a particular group — gay people, black people, women, and so forth. So when those individuals band together to demand that the rights denied to them as individuals based on their identity as a group, that is, in fact, what he claims to support.”

    This to me is right on target. I’ve made attempts at articulating these points in past discussions I’ve had with various persons, wishing I could zero in on it like this. This is very helpful. Excellent.

  23. says

    If he wanted to say that federal sexual harassment legislation is not necessary because there are more effective or efficient avenues to handle the problem, then say that…

    If RP said that, he would then have to specify which more effective avenues he was talking about. And that, in turn, would mean admitting the problem was real and worth acting on, and that effective solutions did indeed exist — but both of those facts contradict the Republitarian religion, therefore they must never be admitted or discussed.

    …but to say that the person being harassed bears some responsibility for it is just…dumb.

    “Just…dumb?” Are you fucking kidding me? It’s flat-out false, and blatant, childish, cowardly victim-blaming. Calling it “just…dumb” is a despicable attempt to excuse a despicable person and a despicable mindset.

  24. interrobang says

    It’s pretty obvious to me that part of what he’s opposed to (but won’t come right out and say) is disenfranchised people getting together to collectively assert their rights. He’d be much happier if people did that individually, and since that never actually works in practice, it would absolutely guarantee that shitstains like him would never have to confront their privilege or be otherwise discomfited by uppity blacks/gays/Jews/women etc. in any way. Why do you think these dipshits are so ardently anti-union?

  25. Aquaria says

    The sooner this flaming bag of misogynistic, racist, corporate-fellating dog vomit dies off, the better the world will be.

  26. juice says

    Apparently his lack of knowledge or his lack of honesty is no hindrance to your voting for him, so why the fuck would he do anything but what he does. He’s got several millions of idiots like you convinced that he’s a decent person instead of the fuckbag that he is.

    You sound really cranky. Are you going to take that cranky energy into the voting booth to pull the lever for Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winning killer of babies and trampler of rights? I’ll bet you think he’s a decent person, maybe wanna have a beer with him. Gullible idiot. You want a war with Iran? Then you go vote for it. All options are on the table. Dumbass.

  27. says

    Excuse me, dumbass, but the killing of babies and trampling of rights began with the Republicans. You know, the party Ron Paul has been a member of since 1988 and did not leave when they started killing babies and trampling rights. And you really think putting another Republican in the White House will make that situation any better?

    Yes, Ron Paul makes a lot of promises that sound nice. But again, he’s a Republican — we’ve heard a lot of nice promises from that lot that never even came close to being fulfilled. If you think a proven liar like Paul would be any better at keeping promises, then you’re living in a very infantile fantasy world.

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