Civil liberties

Sexual Harassment Laws? Meh. Who Needs’em?

During an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Ron Paul, the supposed champion of civil liberty, reiterated the position stated in his 1987 book, Freedom Under Siege, that sexual harassment laws are unnecessary and that it should be left up to the individual to deal with on their own.

WALLACE: Let me just interrupt, I’m sorry but we have limited time and we want to get to the other two candidates as well. I want to ask you about one other thing that you wrote back in your book in 1987 about sexual harassment in the workplace.

You wrote this, “Why don’t” — this is about the victims of sexual harassment. “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?”

You said that sexual harassment should not be a violation of someone’s employment rights?

PAUL: Well, the whole thing is, is you have to get a better definition of sexual harassment. If it’s just because somebody told the joke and somebody was offended, they don’t have a right to go to the federal government and have a policeman to come in and put penalties on those individuals. I mean, they have to say, well, maybe this is not a very good environment, and they have the right to work there or not there.

But if sexual harassment involves violence as libertarians, we are very opposed to any violence. So, if there is any violence involved, you still don’t need a federal law against harassment. You just need to call the policeman and say there’s been an assault or there’s been attempted rape or something.

So, you have to separate those two out. But because people are insulted by, you know, rude behavior, I don’t think we should make a federal case out of it. I don’t think we need federal laws to deal with that and people should deal with that at home.

According to Ron Paul's own words, both in his 1987 book and during his interview with Chris Wallace yesterday, if "sexual harassment," and I'm putting that in quotes because Paul seems to think there's no such thing, occurs in the form of sexual innuendo or a joke, we don't need laws for that. And if it occurs in the form of sexual violence, well, we don't need laws for that either.

What would be the purpose of calling the police if there is no law against sexual harassment? If your only solution is to "take care of it at home," which roughly translates to "either quit your job or stop bitching."

I can't see how any of Ron Paul's views have changed since the creation of his newsletter and his book in the 1980s. The only thing that has changed is he has learned which views to keep to himself and which views are vague and dogwhistle-y enough to become a frontrunner in the Republican primary.

And I would reiterate the fact that Ron Paul is running as a Republican candidate. The same Republican party that started the wars, ballooned the deficit, and presided over the largest expansion of government in recent history with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. The same Republican party that seeks to legislate morality.

He may wear libertarian clothing, but he's still a republican.

  • D_C_Wilson

    Ron Paul claims to be a libertarian, but he has no problem allowing states to establish an official religion or execute gays. He just wants the federal government to be completely impotent and allow each state to do whatever the hell it wants, no matter how harmful it is to its citizens.

    A true libertarian is opposed to government tyranny no matter what level it occurs on. Ron Paul is a neoconfederate who supports the tyranny of the majority so long as its being done on the state level.

    He doesn’t love the Constitution, at least not how its written. Just because he has a few good ideas about making Congress actually declare war before we start one, doesn’t mean he actually understands or likes the Constitution. What he really wants is a revival of the Articles of Confederation.

    • GrafZeppelin127

      That’s a good, and important, point. It’s a convenient rhetorical evasion to say, “Well, I’m not in favor of race discrimination, sexual harassment, child labor, air and water pollution, and locking workers in the factory without a fire escape. I just think it should be up to the states, not the federal government.” If requiring fair and decent treatment of women and minorities, keeping the air breathable, and preventing workers from being maimed or killed, is “tyranny” and “slavery” and is a threat to “freedom” and “liberty,” then it doesn’t matter where the requirement comes from.

  • joseph2004

    I think Ron Paul is one hell of a bad communicator. Ron Paul the way I read him isn’t advocating for violence, racism, segregation, or sexual harassment, or lack of legal remedies for these things. He’s a libertarian who gets himself into libertarian quagmires.
    He believes that an honest read of the US Constitution shows that it grants far less power to the Federal Government than the Federal Government has assumed. Regarding sexual harassment, he thinks that if there are any laws, they should be at the state and local level, not at the Federal level. The Constitution doesn’t say anything about sexual harassment anywhere, and so for Ron Paul the question is, why is the Federal Government responsible for creating laws on the subject.
    If someone is physically assaulted, whether it be sexually or with a crow bar, he seems to believe writing laws against violent sexual assault and violent anything assault against a person is redundant. Assault is already a crime; why parse it out into different levels of crime? If I murder someone, whether I do it because I hate their religion or because I want their money, in which case is the act of murder less heinous?
    The minute you start creating laws that say it’s worse to kill this person than it is to kill that person … equality under the law erodes.

    I also think he is adamantly opposed to the idea that “thoughts” can or should be legislated by the government. That’s what the formulation of hate crimes attempts to do retroactively.

    Ron Paul seems oblivious to the possible implications of his more extreme views. He may just believe in the better angels of our nature, that, for example, the southern states would have by now abolished Jim Crow laws all by themselves. Or, that people acting on their own behalf would eliminate work-place sexual verbal abuse if they didn’t feel the US Government would be there to take care of it for them.
    A lot of people aren’t so sure.

    Ron Paul’s appeal to the Right stems primarily from his belief that the Federal Government has overstepped its authority, and size. But the majority of conservatives, while agreeing with him there, cringe at the implications of his extreme approach, which is why Ron Paul will not be the Republican nominee in 2012.

    • GrafZeppelin127

      Ron Paul’s appeal to the Right stems primarily from his belief that the Federal Government has overstepped its authority, and size.

      I’d like to believe that, but I don’t, because there’s no evidence whatsoever that “the Right™” gives shit one about the size and authority of the federal government “exceeding” or “overstepping” anything while there’s a Republican in the White House and Republicans control Congress. In 2004 the Right™ enthusiastically supported and re-elected an administration and a Congressional majority that had, between 2001 and 2003,

      – purposefully blown up a balanced budget and plunged the government severely and permanently back into the red;

      – created the largest new federal bureaucracy, and the most expensive new federal entitlement program, since the New Deal; and

      – enacted the most sweeping curtailment of individual liberty since the Alien and Sedition Acts.

      Dr. Paul is clinging to ideas about federalism, governing, law, etc. that have been discredited as far back as the 1860s. He wants a “do-over” on the outcome of the Civil War, the 14th Amendment, and every judicial decision since Lochner. And as you pointed out, he’s entirely oblivious to what the real consequences and externalities would be of arbitrarily undoing 160 years of law.

      • joseph2004

        Bush got a lot of flack from the Right, especially during his second term, for his expansion of the Federal budget. When Obama was elected and went nuts with his Democratic Congress, not only were Conservatives hacked off but a lot of other people as well. It was the final straw for many and it precipitated the 2010 Republican surge. I don’t think that Right-wing voters are the same animal they were during G.W.s tenure. They’re upset that the so-called Republican establishment has gone soft. They are looking for a “true conservative,” which Ithink just means they want someone who will act on the conviction that the Federal Government has gotten too unwieldy.

        You give the Republicans a lot of credit for “blowing up” the deficit, but of course, that’s not what bothers Democrats – not shit one. I guarantee you that when Barack Obama was signing all those bills his first year, including the stimulus of 2009, the last thing he gave one rip about was reigning in Federal Government spending.
        It’s a talking point against Republicans who you feel are not adhering to their principles.

        • D_C_Wilson

          “Bush got a lot of flack from the Right, especially during his second term, for his expansion of the Federal budget.”

          I call bullshit right there. No one of any significance in the right gave a rat’s ass about the deficit or Bush’s spending until he was out of office and even then, they retroactively blamed his spending on Obama.

          The only issue that Bush ever caught flack from the right on was his stance on immigration reform.

          • joseph2004

            Nope, not true. Sorry. I don’t know who you think of as “significant” but you can start with influencials such as Peggy Noonan.
            I’m not going to do the Google search for you, but Bush’s spending got a lot of Conservatives very nervous. They recognized that by obliterating “fiscal restraint” and “small, effective government” as tenets of Republican think, they might as well be Democrats.

          • D_C_Wilson

            Peggy Noonan? That’s you best example?

            So in other words, no one of significance.

            Thank you.

          • joseph2004

            Like we’d agree on “significant.”

          • D_C_Wilson

            Here’s a clue: When someone says, “I’m not going to do a Google search for you”, what they really mean is that they don’t have anything to back up their claim.

            And Peggy Noonan? Seriously? What has she done of any significance since the Reagan years?

          • joseph2004

            Yeah whatever.
            I’m not above doing a confirmation search on someone elses claims before assuming it’s all bunk.

            Despite your disdain for her credentials, I give you Peggy Noonan anyway.

            I don’t expect you to read it.. you know.. out of principle, or something.

          • D_C_Wilson

            “I don’t expect you to read it.. you know.. out of principle, or something.”

            Well, now you’re just being an asshole.

            And I did read it. Of course, I’m still not impressed that the most influential conservative you can come up with is a mediocre speechwriter who once said she didn’t want to hear about reports of waterboarding because they sullied her beautiful world.

            Keep trying, though.

        • GrafZeppelin127

          Bush got a lot of flack from the Right, especially during his second term, for his expansion of the Federal budget.

          Untrue. I pay enough attention to Fox News and the right-wing media to know that’s not true. Maybe there were a few (Sullivan, Frum, &c.), but a relative few expressions of concern from a few semi-influential “conservatives” in relatively obscure forums does not translate to “a lot of flack [sic] from the Right.”

          Obama … went nuts with his Democratic Congress[.]

          Also untrue, regardless of what “went nuts” is supposed to mean, and regardless of how badly our friends on Fox et al. want us to believe it. What “precipitated the 2010 surge” was this and other pure, outright fictions. (See, e.g., links below.)

          Right-wing voters want a Republican president; nothing more, nothing less. They don’t care one whit whether or not he is a “true conservative;” if they do at all, it’s only after he leaves office. I don’t believe for one second any of this phony “concern” that Republican enablers are now pretending they had and expressed between 2001 and 2008 about the Bush administration’s unprecedented fiscal recklessness.

          I don’t know what your point is in your last paragraph, but it has nothing to do with anything I wrote. The fact is that we had a balanced budget in 2000 and President Bush and the 107th/108th Congresses purposefully threw it out of balance; we were on pace to pay off the national debt by 2011 and they deliberately reversed that course. Now the GOP and its fans/enablers blame the carnage wrought by their own party on the current administration, disingenuously claiming (and believing the fiction) that things have been “made worse.” They haven’t. Democrats have no such record of cynically pretending to care so very, very much about a problem like this after doing the exact opposite and causing the problem themselves when they were in power, then blaming their opponents for it based on 1970s caricatures, not reality.

          And, you’re not supposed to care about “reigning [sic] in government spending” during the worst recession in eight decades.

          Krugman explains it well here. And here. And here.

          • joseph2004

            -Democratic voters want a Democratic president. Certainly few at this site want a Republican president, no matter what. If Obama had been the Republican nominee in 2008, this site among others would have ripped him to shreds, if with all his same views – because he was Republican
            What else is new?

            -Krugman has always been about spending more. He believes Europe’s mistake even now is that those countries should be spending more, not less. I’m betting Angela Merkel understands the price the Eurozone will pay if the ECB pulls out all stops and starts printing billions and billions of euros.
            Maybe Democrats are “prentending” when it comes to all their rhetoric about helping the middle class here at home? Nothing is doing more to crush the purchasing power of the middle class than printing $trillions of dollars, whether it be to bail out GM, stoke the stock market, or prop up failing European banks. And yet there’s Paul Krugman advocating for more more more spending spending spending. Our government/Europe’s governments are broke. It’s interesting how America insists that Europe get its house in order while blowing it off at home. But that’s right, I forgot. Krugman said we don’t have any problem.

            -You know, it’s not just GOP who blame Obama – if not for starting the carnage then – for continuing the carnage. There are those pesky independents.

            -Sorry, I don’t watch Fox News. Relatively few Conservatives in the country do. It’s impossible given the viewer numbers. Suggesting everyone who’s right of center has been unwittingly taken in by Fox isn’t supported by the numbers.

            -My point in the last paragraph, read it again.

            But this was about Ron Paul initially, who I think will be long forgotten soon enough.

          • GrafZeppelin127

            The right-wing boilerplate about Krugman is fairly standard, as is most of the rest of this, so you’re not telling me anything I haven’t heard many times before. You’re also responding to things I didn’t say, and changing the subject on things I did say. Since you haven’t therefore actually refuted any of my points, I’ll assume you agree with them.

            Thanks for the conversation, and have a good evening.

          • joseph2004

            “The right-wing boilerplate about Krugman is fairly standard…”

            Krugman is the Left wing boilerplate. LOL.

            Good evening.

    • JMAshby

      No, I don’t think he’s oblivious at all. Don’t believe him.

      • joseph2004

        Well, whether he is or isn’t, he seems rooted in a mode that suggests he never expected to get too far in this Presidential thingy so he talks off the cuff more to provoke. Defending his views, dealing with the “what ifs,” doesn’t seem to be a part of his program.

    • mrbrink

      He’s been campaigning since the 80’s reading from the same fucking book telling the same stories about the dollar, big government, anchor babies, and civil liberties as he sees them.

      It’s not his communication skills holding him back.

      Civil rights should not have to wait for you, Ron Paul, or anyone else to figure out how to fit others’ freedom into a tight-ass translation of constitutionality which, since Ron Paul has to ask if the federal government has the power to recognize and protect civil rights should immediately raise some red flags for anyone who holds the constitution in higher regard than a moonshiner’s campfire myth.

      Sometimes people can’t, and should not wait for protection in a sick society slow to figure out when they are ready to recognize and protect them from exploitation and prejudice.

      Not everyone gives a shit about the hill-billy scholars misinterpreting government overreach.

      • joseph2004

        Not saying I disagree, Brink.
        While I agree that when you think you are right, you should pursue it, it’s still a little disconcerting (is it not?) when you realize that someone has assumed the cat seat and been given the power to make policy regardless of public opinion. Maybe in America we can assume that that someone will “do the right thing.” But will it always be true?
        It’s not an easy subject.
        Some people think there should be laws prohibiting insulting people. Much of Europe (rather non-democratically) has assumed as much and made it law. Are they right? What if those same do-gooders were given that power over our Constitution, altering the 1st amendment free speech clause?
        It would kill free speech in this country. We’d never be the same. But I’m sure to a lot of people here and elsewhere, prohibition of insulting speech would seem an obvious “good and right thing.”

  • intoxination

    Oh he’s a Libertarian alright. He’s just one of those anarcho-capitalism brands of libertarianism that should be enough to scare the pants off of anyone.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    I’ll reiterate what I wrote in an earlier thread, which is that Paul and his disciples recognize the liberty of those in a position to abuse, exploit, harass, discriminate and endanger, but either fail/refuse to recognize the liberty of those on the receiving end, or limit it to the liberty to “deal with it on their own,” rather than the liberty to live and work in an environment where one is not, and does not have to fear being, abused, exploited, harassed, discriminated against and endangered.

    Dr. Paul and his supporters continually and repeatedly claim that “We don’t need laws for” this and “We don’t need laws against” that, ignoring the history and social conditions that made such laws necessary in the first place. In other words, they think these laws are entirely arbitrary, that some random person (meaning, some random Democrat) decided to make these laws for no particular reason, just to infringe upon the God-given freedoms of innocent God-fearing American discriminators, abusers, exploiters and harassers, and that undoing these laws in order to “return to” the days when is was up to the victims and potential victims to avoid or prevent abuse, exploitation, harassment, discrimination and danger, would be completely natural. On this, they have it precisely backwards.