KELLY: Rand Paul is a libertarian. You are a libertarian. He is getting excoriated for suggesting that the Civil Rights act -- what he said was, "Look it's got 10 parts, essentially; I favor nine. It's the last part that mandated no discrimination in places of public accommodation that I have a problem with, because you should let businesses decide for themselves whether they are going to be racist or not racist. Because once the government gets involved, it's a slippery slope." Do you agree with that?
STOSSEL: Totally. I'm in total agreement with Rand Paul. You can call it public accommodation, and it is, but it's a private business. And if a private business wants to say, "We don't want any blond anchorwomen or mustached guys," it ought to be their right. Are we going to say to the black students' association they have to take white people, or the gay softball association they have to take straight people? We should have freedom of association in America.
KELLY: OK. When you put it like that it sounds fine, right? So who cares if a blond anchorwoman and mustached anchorman can't go into the lunchroom. But as you know, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came around because it was needed. Blacks weren't allowed to sit at the lunch counter with whites. They couldn't, as they traveled from state to state in this country, they couldn't go in and use a restroom. They couldn't get severed meals and so on, and therefore, unfortunately in this country a law was necessary to get them equal rights.
STOSSEL: Absolutely. But those -- Jim Crow -- those were government rules. Government was saying we have white and black drinking fountains. That's very different from saying private people can't discriminate.
KELLY: How do you know? How do you know that these private business owners, who owned restaurants and so on, would have said, "You know what? Yes. We will take blacks.
STOSSEL: Some wouldn't.
KELLY: We'll take gays. We'll take lesbians," if they hadn't been forced to do it.
STOSSEL: Because eventually they would have lost business. The free market competition would have cleaned the clocks of the people who didn't serve most customers.
KELLY: How do you know that, John?
STOSSEL: I don't. You can't know for sure.
Posted by Ron at 5/21/2010