U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) earned a lot of respect from civil libertarians several weeks ago when he emerged as this country's foremost Fourth Amendment advocate. Rand tried single-handedly to stop some of the more authoritarian aspects of the Patriot Act from being renewed. His libertarian bona fides couldn't have been stronger.
But then Paul went and made some strange comments last week on Sean Hannity's radio show in which he said people who attend -- and merely listen to -- radical speeches advocating the violent overthrow of the U.S. government should be arrested or deported.
"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. 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," Paul said.
These convoluted comments appeared so completely divergent from Rand's positions on other civil libertarian issues many people hardly knew what to make of them.
Rand appeared to be advocating racial profiling -- but he didn't want to be accused of racial profiling -- so he skewed it some and tried to argue for profiling of people attending radical Muslim speeches, except he didn't want to say Muslim speeches. He ended up saying he's not for profiling while advocating profiling.
Comedian Stephen Colbert properly skewered these convoluted profiling-yet-not-profiling comments on "The Colbert Report" last night.
"The Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech, not freedom of listen," Colbert joked.