Rand Paul’s Civil Rights Fallacy

The property rights idea is irrelevant to the issue of segregation. Segregation cannot exist without institutional segregation laws supporting them.

If a private restaurant is white-only and a black person, for example, steps in and sits down, hoping to get served, what is the owner or manager supposed to do? In a world without the provision in the Civil Rights Acts that limit private property owners’ ability to discriminate based on race, the manager would have only so many choices:

  1. Serve the black customer which could obviously absolve the problem.
  2. Physically remove the customer which could possibly lead to criminal or civil liability.
  3. Call the police to have the customer removed

Choice number three would require public laws recognizing the right to discriminate based on race.

Essentially, segregation within the private sphere can not be enforced without public laws recognizing a private property owner’s right to segregate based on race. The concept that this is actually a property rights issue is incorrect. One can not possibly separate public segregation from institutional segregation. This is the problem with Rand Paul’s assertions on the issue.

This fact that the public sphere is required to enforce private segregation gives the government a very valid interest in legislating against discrimination. The decision to say whether tax money should support or pay arresting black trespassers on whites-only property is in the public’s interest.

History shows that southern public legislation required segregation in certain businesses. State laws that mandated racially segregated bathrooms in private hotels and restaurants, for example, were the norm. The idea that this is a property rights issue is even more ludicrous in the face of these facts. State law mandated segregation within the private sphere.

People like Rand Paul and other radical Libertarians can go ahead and make abstract arguments that have no basis in reality all they want. The people with a clear understanding of the issues from the proper anachronistic perspective will sit over at the intellectually segregated grown up table.


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