Posted by Brad @ 10:21 pm on August 26th 2007

“The ACLU is a conservative organization”

Here’s a nice five minute clip of some remarks Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, gave recently, wherein he discusses what he considers to be the conservative legacy of the ACLU. It’s not something that you’d be unfamiliar with per se, but for some reason in light of the Ron Paul campaign the case for the inherent conservatism of civil liberties protection took on some added meaning for me.

11 Comments »

  1. “…in light of the Ron Paul campaign the case for the inherent conservatism of civil liberties…”
    Well I am enjoying the Ron Paul compaign and your blogging of it, but that sentence fragment gave me a chuckle. I really have a hard time with this “Ron Paul = civil libertarian” concept, particularly in light of repeated comments such as this one, in an interview with John Lofton (far right christian conservative):

    LOFTON: We’ll try to stop anyone from getting in the military who is a homosexual, who is an adulterer, who is a fornicator, and then other categories that indicate a character flaw. Why we shouldn’t try to do that?”

    PAUL: Looking it in protecting the military if they are going to perform the services, and they are imperfect — because we’re all imperfect and we all sin. If a heterosexual or homosexual sins, that to me is the category of dealing with their own soul. Since we cannot have only perfect people going in the military I want to separate the two because I don’t want to know the heterosexual flaws, nor the homosexual flaws and that’s why I got in some trouble with some of the civil libertarians because I don’t have any problem with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Because I don’t think that, for the practicality of running a military, I’d just as soon not know every serious thing that any heterosexual or homosexual did, and those flaws have to do with all our flaws because each and everyone one of us has those imperfections.

    That is a weasel dance par excellence. What a massive conflation of “not wanting to know every serious thing” with the fact of having to hide their orientation. Everything I read further enforces my perception that Ron Paul is an ardent supporter of states and local government powers, but he is hardly a civil libertarian.

    Comment by Misanthrope — 8/27/2007 @ 11:25 am

  2. I should have mentioned that I like the theme of the ACLU speech and your take on civil liberties as inherently conservative. Should have lead with that before jumping you as Ron Paul proxie.

    Comment by Misanthrope — 8/27/2007 @ 11:27 am

  3. I’m starting to think that Dr. Paul genuinely does not understand what the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy actually is. His reasoning, here and elsewhere, is completely inconsistent with the actual policy.

    Be that as it may, DADT is only one small part of the civil liberties equation, and Paul is pretty consistently excellent on CL issues.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/27/2007 @ 12:31 pm

  4. Misanthrope –

    I agree insofar as I too was sort of taken a bit aback by his DADT answer the first time I heard it (which was in the third debate, I believe). However–and maybe this supports Rojas’ assertion–the answer he gave was completely right, the logic of it was perfect “the gays in the military issue is a canard; it’s a conduct issue, not a sexuality issue. If a gay person is engaging in bad conduct, censure or discharge them on those grounds, but there’s nothing inherently negative about the sexuality itself” But, he gave that logic in the “I support DADT” answer, and followed it up with a bit of mealy-mouthed shruggery “I guess it’s working, I’m fine with it”. I haven’t yet completely figured out what he means with his DADT answers (it would be very easy to figure out, btw, if he just supported it on its own merits and that’s that, which is wrong, I believe, but defensible I guess).

    I think also he has such a strong federalist streak that on answers like that, when he’s unsure or unclear, he almost always defers to the states, the organizations, the courts, what have you.

    So, I’m sort of with you there, in that he’s wrong on DADT, but I haven’t yet quite figured out why he’s wrong. It’s certainly not because he believes in sexual orientation as a basis for state-sanctioned discrimination: his voting record there is not unclear.

    But I don’t know how you can justify the statement “Everything I read further enforces my perception that Ron Paul is an ardent supporter of states and local government powers, but he is hardly a civil libertarian.” If Ron Paul is not a civil libertarian, frankly I don’t know who is. DADT would be sort of ridiculous as a deal-breaking litmus test for somebody’s civil libertarianism. Really, in the whole constellation of civil libertarian issues, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is just one, very small piece (which is not the same as saying it’s unimportant). I think your sort of criticism comes from two places (actually, I’m just spinning off what you said to wildly generalize, but bear with me).

    The first is a principle that I’m going to coin at some point, if I can put a phrase to it, wherein the longer shot a candidate or party has, the higher the bar they’re held too. Nobody blinks an eye when, say, the Democratic party helps Bush pass his FISA bill, or when Hillary Clinton supports the Patriot Act (and does still), or when Rudy Giuliani tells his city to not enforce federal immigration laws, or pushes for gun control, or when John McCain passes a law legalizing torture, or whatever. But if a third party, or a longshot candidate, has one issue that somebody doesn’t like they declare the whole thing dead to them. It’s almost like the closer to power a person is, the more willing people are to accept their compromises and just assume it part for the course. We demand, say, 51% agreeability of our Hillary Clinton’s or Rudy Giuliani’s, to consider voting for them. We demand 100% or close to consider voting anybody farther down the scale of electability. Which, unsurprisingly, leads us to vote and support candidates 49% of whose positions we actively wish to work against. I’ve never quite understood that impetus, but the more times I get involved with causes or candidates that aren’t the designated mainstream obvious ones, the more I run into it, where people are far, far more apt to nitpick and cherry pick as a basis to declare that person completely unsupportable (even if the difference between how much of their platform you agree with is 90% vs 51% for the candidate you wind up voting for).

    The second thing, and part of the reason civil liberties are in such a sorry state, and–full circle–part of what I like about Romero’s spiel, is the cause of Civil Libertarianism in this country, as an umbrella, is massively worked against by single-issue advocacy groups. People, for instance, that fight their asses off to make sure, say, government bends over backwards for gays, but as far as religious people go…well, fuck them, they don’t need rights. Or people big on racial issues that give two shits about generic immigrants. Or, as another example, pro-choice groups who give out scorecards and, amazingly, will then go after the Democrat running in a general election if they fall under a certain line but not the Republican (because, I guess, it’s just sort of assumed, or it’s considered that the Republican is out of their purview entirely). So what you essentially get are single issue groups that spend all their time using all their various litmus tests to beat over the head the people they feel should be held to a higher standard. Gay groups do this a lot, as do reproductive rights group, where it’s not uncommon to see them break the knees, Misery-style, of a wishy-washy Democratic candidate, thereby electing a very NON wishy-washy Republican to the seat, and getting more or less the exact opposite agenda.

    That’s sort of an extended rant for another post sometime, but my point is, there are a couple of issues so fundamental that I think they do deserve to be immediate deal-breakers. Torture, for instance. But for the most part you have to have perspective. The Clintons, for instance, make all the right gesticulations on sexual orientation issues, and, arguably, have done more damage to the actual cause than most moderate Republican would even dream of (DOMA, for instance)(Andrew Sullivan, incidentally, very persuasively makes this case frequently). I don’t think that Clintons’ gesticulations should garner more attention from gay rights advocates than Ron Paul’s entire WORLDVIEW and voting record, which speaks far, far louder than anything Hillary Clinton ever has, or ever would, do to advance the agenda. Does that make sense?

    So, DODT–yeah, I think that’s a negative mark for Ron Paul. But in the entire constellation of civil liberties, that black mark puts Ron Paul at, say, a 95%. Whereas the other leading candidates are, at best, in the 50s. It’s worth noting the black mark, but it’s also worth keeping it in perspective.

    Comment by Brad — 8/27/2007 @ 5:34 pm

  5. I appreciate (yet again) your reasoned and substantive reply to my Ron Paul burst. Let me lead by saying I have no deal-breaking litmus test, RP remains on my short list of acceptable candidates. I’m just keeping you guys honest;) Couple of points (edit, more of a fisking, my apologies):

    DODT is not a litmus test, but I am unconvinced that RP has such an extraordinary civil liberties record. I view repeal of DODT as one of the least challenging and obviously “righteous” gay rights-civil liberties positions you can take. If you can’t even bring yourself to say we should remove this federal ban on mere participation of gays in service to their nation, then what possible position are you gonna take on the more controversial issues in this arena?

    I too am mystified by RPs understanding and explanation of his support for DODT. My concern is that it is premised on the basis that being gay is inherently wrong! Or he is at least willing to slide into this theory to retain or attract religious right voters, and he seems to tolerate the grouping of homosexual activity with adultery.

    Rojas, this quote really bothers me, and I suspect I just don’t understand what you mean: “the answer he gave was completely right, the logic of it was perfect “the gays in the military issue is a canard; it’s a conduct issue, not a sexuality issue. If a gay person is engaging in bad conduct, censure or discharge them on those grounds, but there’s nothing inherently negative about the sexuality itself”” How is RPs position possibly the same as what you just said? The only way you can reasonably reconcile his statements and your interpretation is if we define any gay sex as bad conduct. And I think that is exactly what RP is saying. If this is not the proper interpretation, then are you suggesting that RP wants the military to start investigating and discharging all instances of premarital sex, including with straight people? (Keep in mind sexual contact between service members is already clearly addressed by both the UCMJ and military regulations for each service, and would require no additional provisions at all to address gays, and would not be impacted by repeal of DODT.)

    I agree he has a strong Federalist streak. How does “deferring to the states” have anything to do with support for a federally legislated DODT?

    I am largely sympathetic to the concept of civil liberties distortion by single issue advocacy groups. This statement, however, seems absurd: “People, for instance, that fight their asses off to make sure, say, government bends over backwards for gays, but as far as religious people go…well, fuck them, they don’t need rights.” Might such advocacy be because religious people are allowed to serve in the military, allowed to get married, allowed to adopt children in all states, and protected from every form of discrimination known to man, whereas gays are not? I mean seriously, “fuck them?” I wonder, what is the stated religion of every President in history? Now, does the line for interpreting the establishment clause vs. free exercise get distorted against religious groups in various and sundry situations? Yes, but your statement is a bit much.

    And as to the single issue gay and reproductive rights groups going after the Dems vice Republicans, I would have to say I see the opposite. I also think you counter your own argument with a later siting of HRC and Andrew Sullivan, but we will get to that. The tendency of these advocacy groups is to endorse Dems almost exclusively, even if they have a Rep contender with just as solid a record in the area of concern. Since you later site Andrew Sullivan, let me present as Exhibit A the Human Rights Council, a virtual branch of the DNC and strong support group for Hillary. Andrew has explicitly and extensively condemned organizations like HRC for supporting Dems regardless of the actual record.

    As for HRC’s supposed damage to the gay rights cause: She has fallen far short of where she should be. While, I can forgive the original implementation of DODT as a best possible compromise 16 years ago when we had Do Ask, Do Investigate, Do Witch Hunt (DODIDWH?), I am much more troubled by her failure to rectify this situation. Heck, she is Senate Armed Service Committee, ideally position to propose a repeal of DODT! But at least her stated position is to repeal it! And RPs is to retain it! And HRC’s position on DOMA is, if I am not mistaken, similar to RP’s, though approaching it from a different direction. Correct me if I’m wrong, but RP supported DOMA as a means of preventing the federal government from legislating national marriage, whereas HRC supported DOMA as a means of preventing a possible future conservative definition of marriage as one man one woman. I admit to being fuzzy on this.

    On your theory of long shot candidates: I am open to the idea, but all of the examples of mainstream candidate positions that supposedly no one bats an eye over? Are you kidding? Those candidates get the crap beat out of them about it! I hear and read about those positions regularly in the MSM. By contrast, RP’s DODT position gets play on a couple of blogs! But I am open to your 51% theory stated later in the para. Here is my working theory: For every issue in which you take a clearly stated and publicized position, you alienate a small percentage of voters who will NEVER vote for a candidate with such a view. (Though you place me in this category for DODT, I’m really not). Let’s say that number of single issue auto-opposers is only 5% on any given issue. Now you do the same thing for 20 different issues, and even with assumed overlap, you have probably made yourself entirely unelectable. This is why candidates/politicians speak the way the do, in wishy-washy generic language that gives them flexibility and deniability. Pick a FEW key issues to help categorize yourself with target voters, but stay centrist on the rest. RP, outspoken and direct like many long shot or third party candidates, does not do this. As to the standard or bar for long shot candidates? Yeah its probably higher as well, but I suspect a lot of it has to do with voter electability assumptions

    I’ll have to look back at your blog and others to further investigate RPs supposed 95% civil liberties rating. I am stuck by the idea that RP would, in general terms, prefer to have half of the states in our nation legislate decidedly uncivil laws if it would prevent a federal law on the same subject. I’ll look into it more, but would certainly appreciate your further thoughts.

    Comment by Misanthrope — 8/28/2007 @ 1:55 pm

  6. Let me pull one thing out and get to the rest later.

    I too am mystified by RPs understanding and explanation of his support for DODT. My concern is that it is premised on the basis that being gay is inherently wrong! Or he is at least willing to slide into this theory to retain or attract religious right voters, and he seems to tolerate the grouping of homosexual activity with adultery.

    Rojas, this quote really bothers me, and I suspect I just don’t understand what you mean: “the answer he gave was completely right, the logic of it was perfect “the gays in the military issue is a canard; it’s a conduct issue, not a sexuality issue. If a gay person is engaging in bad conduct, censure or discharge them on those grounds, but there’s nothing inherently negative about the sexuality itself”” How is RPs position possibly the same as what you just said? The only way you can reasonably reconcile his statements and your interpretation is if we define any gay sex as bad conduct. And I think that is exactly what RP is saying. If this is not the proper interpretation, then are you suggesting that RP wants the military to start investigating and discharging all instances of premarital sex, including with straight people? (Keep in mind sexual contact between service members is already clearly addressed by both the UCMJ and military regulations for each service, and would require no additional provisions at all to address gays, and would not be impacted by repeal of DODT.)

    Actually, I think the later is more or less exactly what Ron Paul IS saying; that the so-called problems of gays in the military that opponents of homosexuality allude to–that gays would turn Marine barracks into bathhouses or somesuch–is a canard. It IS, already, as you point out, covered by conduct regulations, including that which covers sexual conduct, which are already regulations in the military, and already substantial. Ron Paul’s point was he doesn’t see it as a sexuality issue, but a conduct issue. Presumably (and this is the position I, for instance, might take), that there is no need to separate out who is gay and who isn’t; what matters is that they conduct themselves befitting a U.S. soldier. Don’t massage that too far; that’s not to say that gays are LESS likely to conduct themselves honorably, it’s not making any judgment like that at all. It’s point is, why do you need to parse out sexuality? If a soldier is acting dishonorably, gay or straight, there are already ample regulations in place to deal with it.

    That’s the reasoning, which I deem as “perfect” (obviously, hyperbole, but I mean that I don’t find a flaw in that logic), though extended to a perplexing conclusion.

    But let’s look at what Ron Paul has actually said on this issue. Here is his answer from the third Republican debate, when asked directly.

    SPRADLING: Congressman Paul, a question for you.

    Most of our closest allies, including Great Britain and Israel, allow gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military. Is it time to end don’t ask/don’t tell policy and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military?

    PAUL: I think the current policy is a decent policy.

    And the problem that we have with dealing with this subject is we see people as groups, as they belong to certain groups and that they derive their rights as belonging to groups.

    We don’t get our rights because we’re gays or women or minorities. We get our rights from our creator as individuals. So every individual should be treated the same way.

    So if there is homosexual behavior in the military that is disruptive, it should be dealt with.

    But if there’s heterosexual sexual behavior that is disruptive, it should be dealt with.

    So it isn’t the issue of homosexuality. It’s the concept and the understanding of individual rights. If we understood that, we would not be dealing with this very important problem.

    BLITZER: Governor Huckabee, I want you to weigh in as well.

    Do you believe it’s time to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the United States military?

    HUCKABEE: Wolf, I think it’s already covered by the Uniform Code of Military Conduct. I think that’s what Congressman Paul was saying: It’s about conduct; it’s not about [orientation].

    That’s pretty much exactly how I characterized it, wouldn’t you say? It certainly doesn’t support your fear that Congressman Paul is agreeing to a position that being gay is inherently wrong. For the record, he may well believe that, personally. I’ve no idea (and wouldn’t chide him for it if it were, so long as he legislated as if it wasn’t his responsibility to dictate his personal ideas of right and wrong to everybody else, which is indeed exactly how he legislates, which to me is one of the definitions of being a civil libertarian). But he’s pretty clear there that he doesn’t consider the issue of whether homosexuality, itself, is right or wrong to be salient, or even his own personal purview when dealing with this question.

    Now, how he takes that reasoning, which he has expressed as well elsewhere before, to the conclusion that DODT is a good policy, is the perplexing part, which I don’t quite understand either. I think, honestly, that it’s a little bit of naivety on his part as to how the application of the policy actually works. I think this is the only single issue I’ve found where I’ve had that thought about Ron Paul (I have it frequently with other candidates on much bigger issues), but it’s still a shame. Still, I am very very comfortable in believing that Ron Paul is not out to codify into law the idea that homosexuality is wrong. I think he would be the most pro-gay rights president in the history of the Republican, and honestly, I think his attitude on it is exactly right, from a legislative perspective, which is that he’s not obsessed with the legality of sex sexuality one way or the other. He’s dispassionate, even a little naive about it, but he doesn’t have to be anything but, because, in a Ron Paul administration (as in his legislative career), all he has to do is apply his usual civil libertarian philosophy every time one of these things comes up, and the issue becomes relatively easy to deal with, from his perspective (as he says at the end there). He’s wrong on DADT, but honestly, I think that’s a mistake on his part, not on the part of his view of government (meaning, I think he’s just getting his own views wrong here, though I know that’s an unusual assumption to make).

    Oh, and as one coda: I think you’re right that RP would, in general terms, prefer to have half of the states in our nation legislate decidedly uncivil laws (in the qualitative, not legal sense of it), if it would prevent a federal law on the same subject. Frankly, I think, if you’re honest, that’s the correct (i.e. ideal) position. To live in a republic, you have to accept that the majority may view things differently than you. It’s hard to argue that individual states don’t have the right to amend their constitutions (which, to my mind, they would have to do on many sexual orientation issues) as they see fit, as it fits the social and cultural mores that 2/3s of their voting residents wish to codify. You and I won’t agree that what they’re doing is good or just, but it’s certainly their right to do it. The good thing is, in a RP republic, the same yardstick goes for every state, so if your state (Virginia, for instance)) were to pass particularly odious and invasive laws on sex and sexuality, you could A. work to change the laws withing the existing legal framework, or B. move to a more permissive state (like Massachusetts, say). Another part of being a civil libertarian, I believe, and the point I made–and Romero in the clip makes–is to really live the principles behind it, you have to accept that odious things are going to come up, and even become odious laws. The trick is to make sure the SYSTEM works fairly and dispassionately as it pertains to passing those laws or allowing that speech or protecting that expression (not that it only passes laws allowing this particular kind of speech, or protecting this particular kind of expression, or legally enumerating this particular value only). To do otherwise, you’re not really a civil libertarian, you’re a social value crusader, which is exactly what most ANTI-gay socons are (i.e. not interested in the process, but rather only interested in imposing their value). There’s nothing particularly wrong with being a social value crusader, of course, but being liberal on sexual issues isn’t the same thing as being a civil libertarian. Civil libertarians would have to accept that Virginia, if it wants and is able to amend its constitution to outlaw gay marriage and civil unions, and if doing so is upheld on legal challenge, that that’s the process, and it has to, on some level, be respected.

    But that’s maybe a larger argument to this Ron Paul DODT thing. :)

    Comment by Brad — 8/28/2007 @ 2:31 pm

  7. Brad, I don’t see how you can possibly reconcile his very first sentence in the debate reply with your incredibly generous interpretation. “I think the current policy is a decent policy.” You choose to believe that on this one sole issue he is simply unaware of the very fundamental nature of the existing policy, despite its repeated debate at the national level. I think you are being willfully naive in favor of your preferred candidate.
    My interpretation: he does in fact view all homosexual behavior as immoral. This is consistant with, for example, his voting in favor of banning gay adoptions in DC in 1999.
    As for your second paragraph: I did not state hypothetical either/or choice well, I should have said “I think RP would prefer to have half the states pass decidely uncivil legislation if it would prevent a federal law that prevented such uncivil legislation.” If this is how you understood my comment, then I must tell you I do not agree at all. Miscegenation. Easy example, but there are plenty. Sodomy laws. To live in a republic you have to accept that the majority may view things differently than you? Well of course they may view things differently, I just don’t think their views justifies clearly unequal protection and due process under the law, unequal legal status, and overall tyranny of the majority.

    Comment by Misanthrope — 8/28/2007 @ 4:40 pm

  8. Well, then that’s a matter for courts to decide, yes? I agree with you; however, I don’t think it’s the President’s job to decide which laws are constitutional and unconstitutional, which is what unequal protection entails. Which is why, for instance, gay marriage laws (and anti-sodomy laws) get found unconstitutional (see the decisions in MA and TX respectively, and the result of appeals to the Supreme Court on both). Why do you think the current push it to amend constitutions? Because constitutions, as interpreted, don’t allow laws that provide for separate but equal institutions, or unequal protection under the law. The court decisions say “So, change the law, or change the constitution”. The recent spat of state petitions and attempted constitutional amendments is a direct result of that. And, of course, once that happens, the Supreme Court(s) might still find the state constitutional amendments conflict with the federal constitution, which would be more or less the final battleground (unless, as Bush desired and as Paul has worked very hard against, there is a push to amend the federal constitution.

    Point being, the system, on this issue, more or less works, and is getting better by the year. But, it’s not like the President dictates gay policy. About the extent that he’ll impact gay marriage or other such issues is by his appointment of judges. And if you think a Ron Paul presidency would appoint judges that are anything short of stellar on civil liberties…well, I’d have to question your judgment there.

    So, as far as “I think RP would prefer to have half the states pass decidedly uncivil legislation if it would prevent a federal law that prevented such uncivil legislation”, I agree with that, and I agree with him on it. I think RP would prefer over both that no states pass uncivil legislation. And I think over all he would prefer a system where uncivil legislation doesn’t pass muster at all, either legislatively or judicially, which really is the only thing that matters, and again, on Ron Paul’s record, you have the single policy you identified (I can’t say either way on gay adoptions in DC, I have no idea what the law entailed or what justification RP had for voting against it, though I’m sure there are many), against the best civil liberties voting record of any Republican in Congress, according to the aforementioned ACLU (the only reason it’s not a perfect score is that he opposes hate crimes legislation, which I think he’s right on). Do I think he would be a leading voice for GLBT Rights as President? No, I don’t. I don’t think he’s much interested in parsing rights down that far (as his answer in the debate says explicitly). I think he would be a leading voice for ALL rights as President.

    As far as the first line of his debate answer, you’ve missed what Rojas and I are saying, and/or you didn’t read any further. Continue to the second line and beyond and I think you’ll see what I mean. I agree with you, again, that the conclusion he reaches is wrong, which is why both Rojas and I have found the justifications he uses (which would seem to indicate an opposite conclusion) to be bizarre. You’re jumping to wild conclusions and not paying attention to what he’s saying. His justification doesn’t support your view that he just thinks gay people are immoral at all (unless you think that people have to support every pro-gay rights law or they are prejudiced against gay people, which I don’t believe; it depends on the law. There are plenty of bad laws proposed that are in favor of advancing gay rights but are nonetheless bad laws; being a proponent of rights doesn’t entail writing a blank check to every piece of legislation that passes across your desk ostensibly advancing gay rights, at least not if you’re a conscientious legislator).

    His justification DOES support my assertion that he isn’t all that concerned with gayness one way or the other, that he thinks orientation isn’t really salient to one’s conduct in the military. It’s easy to get defensive about votes that you disagree with him on, but listen to what he’s saying, and don’t take it at face value if you don’t wish to, but compare it to his voting record (which I would contend COMPLETELY supports my interpretation). On civil liberties, he walks the walk. Is he going to win any HRC scorecards? No, because he’s not interested in bending the law to advance any particular agenda, which is quite often the standard by which pro-gay rights group judge people. He’s neutral on sexuality, as far as I can tell, and a huge advocate for civil liberties generally, including for sexuality. If a person were a single-issue gay rights voter, I would put Ron Paul up against any other Republican in Congress as being the best bet for a president that would allow the rights of gays to organically expand, and protect them when Congress tries to pass nutty laws infringing them. If you include Democrats, sure, Kucinich, Barney Frank, a few others, would be better single-issue gay rights lawmakers because they march to whatever seems, from a liberal Democratic perspective, to be “progressive”. That’s not always wise if you’re interested in the kind of civil liberties that myself or Romero are talking about, and they are also significantly worse than Ron Paul on just about any other area of civil liberties you can name, which like I said is important to me.

    But, running against other Republicans, there’s no question, to me, that RP is the best bet for a gay rights advocate checking out the field (and again, I don’t see a single bit of support for your interpretation that he views homosexuality as inherently immoral; certainly not with the evidence we’re talking about). And if you’re a civil libertarian looking at the ENTIRE Congress and the ENTIRE picture of civil liberties, name me one better.

    Comment by Brad — 8/28/2007 @ 8:19 pm

  9. Reflecting, I think I’m pushing too hard on the gay rights angle. Let me walk back a bit.

    Ron Paul, according at least to most GLBT organizations, would probably not be Congress’ Gay Rights Champion. He’d be in the top tier of Republicans, but he’s no Barney Frank, say. I would add two things to that.

    The first is that a lot of pro-GLBT legislation–the stuff that he would get marked down for not supporting (and there is a lot of legislation, much of it for good ends (say, giving Mother Teresa a medal) that he doesn’t support)–isn’t always based on the philosophy that the government should stay out of our business, overall. It’s sometimes based on the idea that the government should codify into law protected classes of people. That’s the kind of legislation that Ron Paul–and me–are likely to not support. To me–and Ron Paul–we shouldn’t pass news laws to counter-prejudice the prejudices of old laws. We should get rid of bad old laws that make distinctions amongst groups based on various characteristics. I’ll quote Dr. Paul here, in his answer on DADT:

    And the problem that we have with dealing with this subject is we see people as groups, as they belong to certain groups and that they derive their rights as belonging to groups.

    We don’t get our rights because we’re gays or women or minorities. We get our rights from our creator as individuals. So every individual should be treated the same way.

    […]

    So it isn’t the issue of homosexuality. It’s the concept and the understanding of individual rights. If we understood that, we would not be dealing with this very important problem.

    Now, how he gets from there to “DADT is a decent policy” is a question that mystifies myself and, it sounds, Rojas. I’m honestly not really sure. I DON’T think it’s because he thinks homosexuality is immoral, or at least I’ve seen no evidence for that beyond pretty spurious circumstantial stuff that would require a pretty big leap. But maybe he does think homosexuality is immoral; I have no idea, and certainly grant, as a 72 year old Christian Texan, that it’s possible. But I certainly don’t think that he believes his personal views on whether homosexuality is or is not immoral should create policy on the behalf of protecting America from said immorality. I don’t know that a human being, in their words and actions, can be any more clear on that than Dr. Paul has been.

    The second thing I’ll add, broadening the scope from just GLBT issues to civil liberties at large, is I think it’s the operating paradigm that matters. He’s wrong on the single issue of DADT. But his entire political and personal philosophy is right, and that’s what he’d bring to the table as President (and what he already brings to the table as a candidate). And that goes all the way down, to GLBT issues, to gun rights, to freedom of speech, to due process, to everything; it’s an umbrella paradigm that seems to inform everything he does. I would be very comfortable saying that the gay community would have less to fear–and much to celebrate–from a Ron Paul administration as compared to the administration of any other Republican running. I’d also say that that’s probably true when compared to a few of the Democrats running too, but even where Democrats might be friendlier to the gay community specifically (say, Kucinich), they would fall far short of RP on many, if not most, other civil liberty issues, because it’s the paradigm that matters.

    His paradigm, if not his vote, is what is expressed in that debate answer I gave. And though he’s wrong on the bizarre conclusion he draws in this one specific case, it would be hard to argue that he’s being disingenuous, given his almost superhuman consistency and commitment to that paradigm in everything he does.

    Comment by Brad — 8/28/2007 @ 9:06 pm

  10. Brad,
    Your Post #8: Some excellent points regarding the critical, wonderful role of judicial review, and I am influenced by this perspective. Keeping in mind that it took until 1967 before Loving v VA shut down miscegenation and until 2003 before Lawrence v TX did the same for sodomy laws, the essence of your position appears to be:
    1) RP is comfortable with these types of rulings, and unlike typical social conservatives, he does not cry “judicial activism” and “legislation from the bench” every time a ruling doesn’t match his morality.
    2) RP would appoint civil libertarian judges.

    In answer to number one, I simple refer you to this essay by Ron Paul:

    Seems pretty willing to play the judicial activism card in support of social conservative issues. But, I don’t really want to focus on this part of the equation, I want to address the overall civil liberties record of the candidate.

    While I acknowledge the highest Republican civil liberties rating per the ACLU link, I don’t judge RP as a Republican, I judge his civil liberties record as a Congressman and presidential candidate, and by this measure, using the ACLU scorecard that you brought into play, he is middle of the pack. Hardly the 95% civil libertarian rating you alledge, although I grant you that the ACLU is not the best source of libertarian-style civil liberties ratings. Just for your possible future discussions on this matter, you might want to take a closer look at the link you provided, your description does not really match: RP abstained or no showed for three of the six votes including (using the ACLU descriptions) expansion of spying powers, government funded religious discrimination in head start, and the hate crimes legislation (which I would be perfectly OK with a nay vote, I’m not a big fan of a new special category for things that are already criminal.) The one for which he received a down check from the ACLU was for some kind of pay discrimination bill.

    What is interesting about the pandora’s box of ACLU scoring is the types of civil liberties that RP opposes via legislation: Yes on federal ban on partial birth abortions (multiple). Yes on preventing military women stationed overseas from receiving abortions in mil hospitals, even if privately funded. Continued opposition to D.C. domestic partnership benefits (approved by the local DC City council, overruled by the federal government!) Support in several establishment clause related bills that favor faith-based initiatives. But most telling, given the arguments you posit, various court stripping acts that discourage judicial review or remove it out right in certain areas important to the religious right: Yes on Public Expression of Religion Act which places establishment clause suits in a unique category different than all others by baring recovery of attorney fees. (Obviously designed to discourage establishment clause suits). Yes on Pledge Protection Act (stripping judicial review on any Pledge of Allegiance constitutional claim), Abstain/no show on stripping judicial review of DOMA.

    So what kind of judge would RP appoint? On the good side, they would be far less tolerant of unitary executive theories than the Bush appointees. They would probably be strong on first amendment expression. But on the down side, might we not assume they would be definitively pro-life, strongly defer to local/state government legislation and state powers (even when “uncivil”), and much more tolerant of religious-government involvement, perhaps even removing the lemon test in establishment cases? I think so.

    I do think you are right that RP isn’t all that concerned with gay issues. It’s just not high on his list, not on his radar. But where it does come up, he rather consistently opposes them. DC Domestic Partnership. DC Adoptions. Protected Class. DODT. (And I won’t even include DOMA and Hate stuff). This seems to point to a, as you put it, “72 year-old Christian” who vaguely feels that gay is immoral. As an aside, I think this is analogous to GW’s views of some social conservative issues, particularly when it comes to judicial appointments. GW doesn’t care all that much about abortion, his top judicial appointment criteria is deference to executive authority. And because of my agreement with you on this I remain perfectly willing to review openly the rest of RPs civil liberties record, but so far that research ain’t coming up roses. It’s not crappy, its just a hell of a ways from 95%.

    Not sure where to shoehorn this into the essay, but I am trying not to include those supposed civil liberties issues that liberals love and libertarians hate, e.g. affirmative action related items. I completely ignored immigration and voting rights assistance stuff in my ACLU review. I am trying to be fair.

    Post 9: I am glad to see you walk this back a bit. And I agree that a civil libertarian can righteously oppose major pieces of the gay rights legislative agenda and sleep with a clear conscience. I am not keen on hate crimes or hate speech laws at all. But the protected classes thing bugs me a bit. You already have a half dozen protected classes, and I think it is pretty clear that the LGBT community fits any reasonable definition of a class subject to discrimination that, by existing standards and already enacted protected class legislation or judicial determination, ought to be included as a protected class as well. On the gripping hand, I do understand the RP doesn’t look at things this way, and that even if he completely accepts that gays are as subject to discrimination as Hindus, he will still oppose on principle the expansion of protected classes.

    Lastly, I continue to be impressed with your willingness to engage openly on this issue. It is why I read and comment on your blog.

    Comment by Misanthrope — 8/29/2007 @ 12:33 pm

  11. Having trouble with HTML tags. Tried to refer you to this link after my opening paragraph:
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul208.html

    Comment by Misanthrope — 8/29/2007 @ 12:34 pm

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