Life, Toons, and Politics











Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky has recently come under fire for his use of a Canadian rock band’s songs in his political campaign, both at rallies and in campaign videos. Apparently, Rush doesn’t want Dr. Paul using their music for political purposes. The Louisville-Courier Journal reports:

In Web ads and at campaign appearances, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul sometimes has called on the music of the band Rush to give his message a little pop.

It turns out the campaign wasn’t using the music with the band’s permission, according to Rush’s attorney, Robert Farmer.

Farmer, general counsel for the Anthem Entertainment Group Inc. in Toronto, which is Rush’s record label, has sent a letter to Paul campaign officials informing them that they have violated copyright laws — and urging them to stop. “This is not a political issue — this is a copyright issue,” Farmer said in an interview. “We would do this no matter who it is.”

Rush believes in upholding copyright laws. That’s understandable. This has nothing to do with Paul’s political beliefs. In fact, Rush’s works are known to have libertarian inclinations. Neil Hart, the band’s lyricist and drummer, is a devoted disciple of the late Ayn Rand, a writer known for her promotion of individualism and free markets.

But is sharing “intellectual property” equivalent to theft?

The law says, yes. Modern copyright laws protect the creative works of artists, musicians, writers, and other owners of “intellectual property” from copyright infringement. Works protected by copyright laws can’t be used for non-private purposes without permission from the copyright owner. These laws are permissibly enforceable under the U.S. Constitution.

Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, however, found error in the concept of legally protected “intellectual property.”

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.

“Intellectual property” isn’t tangible. An idea is the exclusive right of an individual, so long as he keeps it to himself – but once he shares it, he has relinquished his exclusive right to it. That doesn’t mean the idea isn’t his, per se, but rather, that his willingness to share that idea with others places it in the public domain. Once people absorb the ideas of others, spreading it becomes inevitable. Every idea is at least partially inspired by other ideas. In fact, much of Rush’s music was inspired by the works of Ayn Rand.

Furthermore, it is not possible to steal an idea. It can only be shared. If I take someone’s idea and share it, I haven’t stolen anything. The idea I shared is still ingrained in the mind of the person who conceived it. I have not stolen it. When that person shared his idea, he ingrained the idea in my mind, and there is no way I can prevent myself from sharing that idea, with or without deliberation, because ideas seep into the subconscious once absorbed. I have not taken away his ability to hold the idea in his mind and share it with others. Every word spoken is an idea. As long as humans absorb ideas against their will – and as long as ideas are intangible – ideas cannot, in any conceivable way, be considered property.

Not all ideas are protected as “property” under the law. Leaders pick and choose which ideas are considered “property” and enforce the laws accordingly. This is a dangerous power that can be abused.

The concept of “intellectual property” is abstract in and of itself. Personally, debating it gives me a headache. How do you argue that some ideas are property and others aren’t?

Copying a CD and playing it in public is not the same as stealing it. The video below illustrates the difference.

Case closed. Copying is not theft. Playing music that was voluntarily shared with the public is nothing like stealing. If I took Rush’s records and physically stole them, that’s theft. But if I copy and play Rush’s music, I haven’t stolen anything.

Shame on Rush for harassing poor Dr. Paul.

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{June 7, 2010}   In Defense of Rand Paul

A few weeks ago, Rand Paul, a Republican candidate running for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, ignited a political firestorm with his controversial comments on key parts of the Civil Rights Act. It began when Rachel Maddow, a liberal commentator on MSNBC, featured Paul as a guest on her daily television program, in which he’d made numerous appearances throughout his campaign. Before interviewing Paul, Maddow referenced comments he had made in interviews with National Public Radio and the Louisville-Courier Journal, respectively. On NPR, responding to Robert Siegel, Dr. Paul suggested that, while he was opposed to institutionalized racism, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 may have been a federal overreach.

SIEGEL: You’ve said that business should have the right to refuse service to anyone, and that the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA, was an overreach by the federal government. Would you say the same by extension of the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

Dr. PAUL: What I’ve always said is that I’m opposed to institutional racism, and I would’ve, had I’ve been alive at the time, I think, had the courage to march with Martin Luther King to overturn institutional racism, and I see no place in our society for institutional racism.

SIEGEL: But are you saying that had you been around at the time, you would have hoped that you would have marched with Martin Luther King but voted with Barry Goldwater against the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

Dr. PAUL: Well, actually, I think it’s confusing on a lot of cases with what actually was in the civil rights case because, see, a lot of the things that actually were in the bill, I’m in favor of. I’m in favor of everything with regards to ending institutional racism. So I think there’s a lot to be desired in the civil rights. And to tell you the truth, I haven’t really read all through it because it was passed 40 years ago and hadn’t been a real pressing issue in the campaign, on whether we’re going to vote for the Civil Rights Act.

SIEGEL: But it’s been one of the major developments in American history in the course of your life. I mean, do you think the ’64 Civil Rights Act or the ADA for that matter were just overreaches and that business shouldn’t be bothered by people with a basis in law to sue them for redress?

Dr. PAUL: Right. I think a lot of things could be handled locally.

In an interview with the Louisville-Courier Journal, Paul said that he, for the most part, held a favorable view of the Civil Rights Act, but was bothered by the idea of telling private business owners what to do with their property.

INTERVIEWER: Would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I’m all in favor of that.

INTERVIEWER: But?

PAUL: You had to ask me the “but.” I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners—I abhor racism. I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant—but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that’s most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind.

Paul continued, telling the Louisville-Courier Journal that, although he found discrimination abhorrent, and would’ve protested against it, the government should not interfere with the rights of private business owners.

INTERVIEWER: But under your philosophy, it would be okay for Dr. King not to be served at the counter at Woolworths?

PAUL: I would not go to that Woolworths, and I would stand up in my community and say that it is abhorrent, um, but, the hard part—and this is the hard part about believing in freedom—is, if you believe in the First Amendment, for example—you have too, for example, most good defenders of the First Amendment will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things. . . . It’s the same way with other behaviors. In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people, who have abhorrent behavior.

After referencing some of these statements in her opening segment, Maddow proceeded to offer her audience a critical interview with Dr. Paul, who was slightly surprised by her opening segment. Paul said, again, that he viewed the Civil Rights Act favorably, but only opposed the title banning discrimination in so-called public accommodations, which he views as private property. Paul went on to make comparisons to free speech.

MADDOW: Do you think that a private business has a right to say that ‘We don’t serve black people?’

PAUL: I’m not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. We still do have private clubs in America that can discriminate based on race.

But I think what’s important in this debate is not getting into any specific “gotcha” on this, but asking the question ‘What about freedom of speech?’ Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? I don’t want to be associated with those people, but I also don’t want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that’s one of the things that freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn’t mean we approve of it…

Paul made another comparison to private restaurant owners enacting their own gun policies.

MADDOW: How about desegregating lunch counters?

PAUL: Well what it gets into then is if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says ‘well no, we don’t want to have guns in here’ the bar says ‘we don’t want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other.’ Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant?

Maddow explained that this was not a hypothetical discussion and that people, primarily minorities, were physically beaten for civil rights activism. Paul went on to say that he did not condone violence against activists and that he would have stood up for their cause. After the interview, neither party was pleased.

That’s when the incident transformed into a nationwide media circus.

MSNBC spent the next 24 hours bashing Paul for his statements. In addition to Maddow’s hit piece the day after, other MSNBC pundits were in hysterics. Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, and Ed Schultz raveled in attempts to paint Dr. Paul as a heartless human being. Every anchor, every correspondent, every network analyst, and every guest joined together in an “enlightened” crusade against the conservative, Constitutionalist candidate and Tea Party favorite that had won a difficult primary against a formidable Establishment candidate backed by Dick Cheney, Mitch McConnell, and Rudy Guliani.

CNN, CBS, and ABC were more than happy to join MSNBC in bashing Paul and the Tea Party movement as regressive and hyper-idealistic. Bill Maher, Lizz Winstead, Joy Behar, and even Harry Shearer of The Simpsons were eager to hop on the Rand Paul hate-wagon. Article after article was featured in The Huffington Post and The New York Times, painting Dr. Paul as an extremist and a radical fringe candidate. Cartoon after cartoon appeared on editorial pages and political websites. Comments on Politico were filled with accusations of “racism,” implied associations with Stormfront and the KKK, and claims that the Paul dynasty “would take us back to the Dark Ages.”

I, for one, tired myself out reading about the supposed “evils” of libertarianism. What a long week that was.

Although his defenders were vastly outnumbered by the crowd of militant detractors ready to demonize him as a closet “racist”, Paul had friends in conservative and libertarian circles. Tom Woods, John Stossel, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Lew Rockwell, Jacob Hornberger, and even black economist Walter Williams all rushed to his defense. As was expected, Palin was mocked, Stossel was accused of “racism” (surprise, surprise), and Williams was called an “Uncle Tom.” Woods and Rockwell were, for the most part, spared. Liberals were already exhausted from demonizing both men as “racists” in previous incidents of no concern to anyone with better things to do. After all, no one wants to end up like the Southern Poverty Law Center, who demonizes anyone and everyone who disagrees with them as “hate groups.”

How dare Rand Paul question the conventional wisdom? How dare Rand Paul challenge one part of the liberals’ sacred cow? How dare Rand Paul think for himself instead of reciting the bumper-sticker slogans school children are indoctrinated to accept as “truth?”

I say we either criticize parts of the Civil Rights Act, or we declare the Constitution and the Bill of Rights null and void.

At the height of the Civil Rights movement, Senator Barry Goldwater – a friend of John F. Kennedy and a man that no one accused of being racist, hateful, or bigoted – was faced with a challenge. As a defender of individual liberty, Goldwater had taken part in voluntary desegregation efforts at the private level and the repeal of various forms of institutionalized segregation at the state level. These efforts, he said, were both constitutional and fundamentally moral.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, on the other hand, was clearly unconstitutional, economically irresponsible, and counterproductive in its efforts to alleviate racial animosity.

This was not a time for pseudo-sociologists or white liberal do-gooders to impose their “enlightened” vision upon the rest of the country. This was a time to interpret the Constitution and the rule of law. I, he said, took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and I must carry out my duty.

Unlike most politicians today, Barry Goldwater took a principled stand and defended the Constitution.

The Civil Rights Act, Goldwater rightly noted, violated the Tenth Amendment. This was a matter to be fought at the state and local level. This was a matter of states’ rights and local governance. And if the white liberal do-gooders wanted to pass the Civil Rights Act without violating the Constitution, they had to enact a constitutional amendment.

That, of course, didn’t happen.

Today, disrespect for the Constitution is more rampant than ever. And if you dare question the constitutionality of any piece of legislation on the basis of the Tenth Amendment, states’ rights, or Article I, Section 8, be ready to hear, “So you would’ve opposed the Civil Rights Act?” Most Constitutionalists are reluctant to say yes, even though they should. But we’re taught in school that only government overlords know what’s best for the world.

Author Zora Neale Hurston, a person of color herself, took a principled position against federal expansion of government, even when such expansion was under the guise of liberty and equality. She opposed Brown vs. Board of Education, and criticized historical worship of post-Civil War Reconstruction policy. Issues close to home should stay at home, she thought. Fight oppression at the state and local level, but be careful of those who claim a desire to expand liberty through centralization. As the federal government consolidates more and more power into its authority, the ability to fight oppression and totalitarianism becomes much, much harder. For if a state enacts a bad law, it only affects that state. But if the federal government enacts a bad law, it affects all 50.

Most libertarians, including Dr. Paul, disagree with me on many of my aforementioned statements. Usually, only the most radical decentralists, such as myself, will oppose a federal ban on institutionalized racism in the states. Of course, that doesn’t mean I support institutionalized racism. I would’ve enthusiastically encouraged protests, boycotts, and civil disobedience at the state and local levels, especially as a colored person. Goldwater took this position, Hurston took this position, and even Dr. Paul’s father, Congressman Ron Paul, takes this position. (Ron is what you’d call courageous and dignified. He doesn’t always have in mind what everyone wants to hear, but he says it anyway. Ron will defend the Constitution even when it isn’t popular or politically feasible.)

What of the title in the Civil Rights Act that banned racial discrimination in so-called public accommodations, the only part Rand Paul actually opposed, despite outcries insisting the contrary?

Title II was probably the worst part.

Private property is private property, whether it’s a person’s home or a restaurant that serves the public for profit. Like freedom of speech, we ought to protect even the most abhorrent forms of free association – or disassociation, in this case. Sure, a whites-only policy is terrible and racist, but in a free society, racial integration should never come about through the barrel of a government gun. In a free society, we ought to protest, boycott, and picket the place out of business without the use of government initiating force on our behalf. Indeed, if a whites-only policy was enacted today, this is the very thing that would happen.

As a colored person, I’d rather know whether the person serving me hates me for my race. If they do, I don’t want to give them my money.

Racism can’t be eradicated through the stroke of a government pen, social engineering by a central authority, or threat of violence. Racism is internalized. It is an attitude shaped by one’s most deeply held beliefs, values, and prejudices. The only effective way of changing those prejudices is through peaceful and voluntary means – education, art, music, poetry, speeches, protests, books, films, and even capitalism.

Forced integration doesn’t work, and it never will. The Civil Rights Act failed miserably in its attempts to alleviate racial animosity. As President Eisenhower once said, you can’t force people to like each other. To some people, that sounds “racist,” but to me, it sounds like common sense. If people of different races integrate voluntarily, they do so out of desire. But if people of different races are forced to integrate against their will, it causes violence and tension. It spreads further hatred and animosity. In this case, the Civil Rights Act may have actually delayed progress. There is no doubt that we’ve made great strides in race relations within the past five decades. But, as Ron Paul pointed out in his classic dissent of a resolution commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act’s passage, these advances were made in spite of the Act, not because of it.

Some say forced integration of schools is a perfect example of its more positive results. I beg to differ.

In school, every student learns about the Kenneth Clark doll studies. In these studies, black kids were shown a white doll and a black doll, and then asked to pick which one they preferred. Most chose the white doll. The story usually ends right there if you hear the story from a teacher or see it in a film praising Brown vs. Board of Education. It usually ends with white guilt and weeping. “Those poor little black kids.”

It turns out that black kids in desegregated schools were more likely to choose the white doll than black kids in segregated schools. If you were to reach any logical conclusion from the real results of these studies, you’d be expelled from school or fired from work for extreme political incorrectness. Yet an entire court ruling was based on this study. Even though the words “doll study” appear nowhere in the Constitution.

Figures.

“But Michelle”, my fifth-grade teacher says, “in the years following the Civil Rights era, African American students oversaw an increase in academic performance.” This is true. But this was already happening before the passage of Brown, before the Civil Rights Act, and before forced integration of schools. There was no acceleration in trends after these landmark mandates were passed that did not exist in the years prior to their passage. You’re probably also forbidden from knowing that kids in segregated schools saw the same increase in academic performance – and, often times, an even higher increase.

And for those who argue that the commerce clause of the Constitution can be used to ban racial discrimination in so-called public accommodations (which are privately owned), the commerce clause wasn’t originally intended to regulate any and all gainful activity. It was intended to establish free-trade zones among the states to prohibit them from imposing tariffs on one other that hurt state industries. If we observe the commerce clause in its original historical context, regulate means “to keep regular,” and among the States means, for example, trade from Wisconsin to Minnesota, and from Minnesota to Wisconsin, but not within Wisconsin, and not within Minnesota. Thomas Jefferson himself clarified that the commerce clause only extends to external commerce – not internal. In regards to the states, the commerce clause intends to keep trade regular among the states. In its original historical context, this spells out free-trade zones.

In short, here’s what we know:

  • The Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional.
  • The Civil Rights Act unnecessarily infringed on the rights of private property owners.
  • The Civil Rights Act was not successful in its goal of alleviating racial animosity – and demonstrably so.
  • The Civil Rights Act led to affirmative action, racial quotas, and special compensatory programs for minorities by trying to legislate against thought. (You can’t always tell if someone is discriminating, especially if they don’t put up a “whites-only” sign or a “no darkies for hire” stamp on their employment applications. Also, if one race is hired more often than another in one particular trade or occupation, it’s not always the result of intentional discrimination, but because the job itself has a disparate impact on certain races due to racial differences in skills, talents, and credentials. An example would be more blacks in basketball than whites.)

I have been criticized for taking the aforementioned positions. Fair enough. But when people scream “racism” and “Nazism” at me, I feel as if the debate has been reduced to childish schoolyard name-calling meant for the likes of five-year-olds. And when people do this very same thing to Rand Paul, a man who stands up for the Constitution when no one else will, I have only to conclude that his detractors are nothing but tantrum-throwing tots who never grew up.

According to former Senator Jim Bunning, Dr. Paul is the only true conservative running for U.S. Senate. And it shows. Paul is the only man running who can answer to our trillion-dollar debt. He is the only man running who promises to cut taxes and spending, both domestically and abroad. He is the only man running who talks about the destructive inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve and promises to curb its influence dramatically. He is the only man running who has the guts to call several members of the U.N. “petty dictators” and expose the U.N.’s agenda for what it really is. He is the only man running who truly believes in the principles enshrined by the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and our Founding Fathers. He believes in free markets, sound money, and individual liberty. His vision of government is a limited government that protects our rights and leaves the people alone.

Sounds like Jefferson.

Rand Paul’s opponent, Jack Conway, on the other hand, supports the sweeping government takeover of healthcare by the Obamaites, wants to confiscate guns from private, law-abiding citizens, supports the merciless murder of unborn children, has no problem using force and violence on behalf of union thugs, wants to increase our taxes, believes we need more welfarism and more spending at a time when our debt is driving us into bankruptcy and our dollar is on the path to destruction, has the backing of politically influential Wall Street bankers who colluded with government for special privileges, and has no objection to the Federal Reserve looting the American people through the endless printing of money, without restraint and without our consent.

Shouldn’t it be obvious by now who the real extremist is?

Rand Paul has earned my respect. Those who twist his message for their own ideological agenda don’t even take the time of day to understand Dr. Paul’s message. Dr. Paul is the man we need to take our country back in the right direction. Our middle class is shrinking, exorbitant taxes are crippling the economy, reckless spending is destroying free enterprise by depriving it of its resources, and the tremendous debt America is forced to confront is no longer sustainable. I think we need a new Jefferson to fix this mess.

Is Rand Paul up to the task?



et cetera