Ron Paul may be be polling well in Iowa, but he’s had a tough few weeks denying responsibility for racist and homophobic material once published under his name. Now, we can add women’s rights to the list. And this time, it will be hard for Paul to place the blame on another author.
As highlighted by CNN on Friday, in his 1987 book, Freedom Under Siege: The U.S. Constitution After 200-Plus Years, republished in 2007, Ron Paul made some eyebrow-raising statements about sexual harassment and women’s rights in the workplace:
Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity. 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.
Harassment isn’t the only area where Paul’s ideas came into conflict with workplace equality. Paul is also against equal pay laws in the book.
The concept of equal pay for equal work is not only an impossible task, it can only be accomplished with the total rejection of the idea of the voluntary contract. By what right does the government assume power to tell an airline it must hire unattractive women if it does not want to?
On the one hand, Libertarians in general often come out against workplace protections which are perceived to impinge on individual rights. But Paul’s past opposition to laws which are meant to correct historical biases and inequities could get the candidate in trouble. Paul’s also made comments about problems he had with the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which he voted against commemorating in 2004).
Other passages in the book include jabs about LGBT people and AIDS. Like the notorious newsletters which include unsavory passages about the AIDS epidemic, Paul writes that the Founding Fathers probably wouldn’t favor AIDS research and that insurance companies should have the right to refuse care to patients with HIV/AIDS:
Victims of the disease AIDS argue…for crash research programs (to be paid for by people who don’t have AIDS), demanding a cure…The individual suffering from AIDS certainly is a victim — frequently a victim of his own lifestyle — but this same individual victimizes innocent citizens by forcing them to pay for his care. Crash research programs are hardly something, I believe, the Founding Fathers intended when they talked about equal rights.
And of course, Paul also takes issue with minority rights, wondering, if there’s a black and hispanic caucus in Congress, why not a white one too?
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.
The campaign defended the book to CNN. “Rights come because we are all individuals, endowed by our creator, and Americans must look beyond race or creed and recognize that we all deserving of the same Liberty,” a spokesman wrote in an email.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.