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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ron Paul gives libertarians a bad name

Ron Paul's run for the Republican Party's nomination in the US has many libertarians all a-flutter. He has set new fundraising records due to his anti-establishment libertarian message, and attracted rave reviews from libertarian media outlets like Reason magazine. However, reporters at The New Republic have done a little digging & come up with some unsavoury statements about blacks, gays & Jews attributed to Paul in newsletters put out by his organization in the 1990s. Here's what the newsletters had to say about homosexuals:

Like blacks, gays earn plenty of animus in Paul's newsletters. They frequently quoted Paul's "old colleague," Representative William Dannemeyer--who advocated quarantining people with AIDS--praising him for "speak[ing] out fearlessly despite the organized power of the gay lobby." In 1990, one newsletter mentioned a reporter from a gay magazine "who certainly had an axe to grind, and that's not easy with a limp wrist." In an item titled, "The Pink House?" the author of a newsletter--again, presumably Paul--complained about President George H.W. Bush's decision to sign a hate crimes bill and invite "the heads of homosexual lobbying groups to the White House for the ceremony," adding, "I miss the closet." "Homosexuals," it said, "not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities." When Marvin Liebman, a founder of the conservative Young Americans for Freedom and a longtime political activist, announced that he was gay in the pages of National Review, a Paul newsletter implored, "Bring Back the Closet!" Surprisingly, one item expressed ambivalence about the contentious issue of gays in the military, but ultimately concluded, "Homosexuals, if admitted, should be put in a special category and not allowed in close physical contact with heterosexuals."

The newsletters were particularly obsessed with AIDS, "a politically protected disease thanks to payola and the influence of the homosexual lobby," and used it as a rhetorical club to beat gay people in general. In 1990, one newsletter approvingly quoted "a well-known Libertarian editor" as saying, "The ACT-UP slogan, on stickers plastered all over Manhattan, is 'Silence = Death.' But shouldn't it be 'Sodomy = Death'?" Readers were warned to avoid blood transfusions because gays were trying to "poison the blood supply." "Am I the only one sick of hearing about the 'rights' of AIDS carriers?" a newsletter asked in 1990. That same year, citing a Christian-right fringe publication, an item suggested that "the AIDS patient" should not be allowed to eat in restaurants and that "AIDS can be transmitted by saliva," which is false. Paul's newsletters advertised a book, Surviving the AIDS Plague--also based upon the casual-transmission thesis--and defended "parents who worry about sending their healthy kids to school with AIDS victims." Commenting on a rise in AIDS infections, one newsletter said that "gays in San Francisco do not obey the dictates of good sense," adding: "[T]hese men don't really see a reason to live past their fifties. They are not married, they have no children, and their lives are centered on new sexual partners." Also, "they enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick."

Paul now claims that he did not write the articles in question. Jacob Sullum at Reason is inclined to believe him:
If I thought Ron Paul might be president in 2009, I'd have to admit that his newsletter negligence raises questions about his judgment and about the people he'd choose to advise him. But since the value of the Paul campaign lies in promoting the libertarian ideals of limited government, individual freedom, and tolerance, the real problem is that the newsletters contradict this message.

Give me a break. Ron Paul gives libertarians a bad name - he may not be a homophobic race-baiter himself, but at one time he must have surrounded himself with people like that who spoke on his behalf in a publication that carried his name. At the very least he shows appallingly bad judgement. Ron Paul's fifteen minutes of fame are up.


Anonymous said...

So Ron Paul has to be politically correct for you to like him? Why is that? You afraid of something?

Eric said...

Well, anonymous - there's a difference between expecting a candidate for President of the U.S. to be politically correct and expecting him to not be a hate-mongering bigot. And no, I'm not afraid of anything. Do you have some issues that are getting under YOUR skin?