Rand Paul: Imprison people who attend radical political speeches. Well, Muslims, anyway.
Rand Paul, libertarianesque freedom-lover, makes me sad…
PAUL: I’m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they’ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they’ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders. It wouldn’t be that they are Islamic. But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison.
Like all good freedom-loving conservatives and libertarians, Rand Paul knows that sometimes, you just have to throw people in jail for saying things… well, not for saying things, but for being present while other people say things. This is known as the “unless we don’t like you” subclause of the First Amendment, written in lemon juice and visible only during a full moon.
Should you be able to imprison someone for “attending speeches”? Not making a speech, mind you, but attending a speech? That seems rather far afield from the Founder’s original intent, but more to the point, I wonder if Rand Paul would really be comfortable applying his proposed rule of imprisonment-for-listening-to-violent-rhetoric across the board.
Say, to the followers of people who advocate “Second Amendment remedies” if an election doesn’t go the way they want.
Or to people who support politicians who make bold claims that breaking up the United States may be needed, if their particular state doesn’t get to override the federal government.
Or to people that use gun-inspired imagery against their political opponents, or hold events in which they shoot live ammo at a representation of their political opponent. Well, not those people directly, but anyone present during such speech.
For that matter, what should we do with people who attend speeches by people who merely want to reform the country to do away with the more inconvenient sections of the Bill of Rights? Isn’t that an “overthrow”?
I think what Rand Paul clearly means to say here is that he doesn’t want to profile Muslim Americans… he’s just suggesting we investigate their religious leaders and, if he deems their speech unacceptable, imprison their followers for listening to it. But somehow I don’t think we’ll be subjecting Christian ministers to that level of scrutiny. Or militia-affiliated groups like the “Minutemen”. Or Republicans.
I credit Rand Paul for this much: he knows profiling would be wrong, which is an improvement over many conservatives. But he still seems to have a weak grasp of our other national values, especially for a supposed protector of our freedoms.