When Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) makes public appearances, he routinely likes to tell audiences, "You'll find nobody in Congress doing more for minority rights than me right now -- Republican or Democrat."
And though the boast is itself dubious, the latest BuzzFeed report raises questions about just how much the Republican senator actually understands minority rights on a conceptual level.
Sen. Rand Paul said he doesn't buy into the concept of gay rights because they are defined by a gay person's lifestyle. "I don't think I've ever used the word gay rights, because I don't really believe in rights based on your behavior," the Kentucky Republican told reporters in a videotaped interview that has received little attention since it was recorded in 2013.
Admittedly, the senator's quote is a bit old, though it's apparently surfacing in earnest now for the first time. That said, a Rand Paul spokesperson yesterday "did not reply to BuzzFeed News' question seeking clarification on gay people's rights not associated with their behavior."
Regardless, the senator's comments suggest Rand Paul doesn't recognize gay rights as a real issue at all because, in his words, rights based on "behavior" lack legitimacy.
The Kentucky Republican may not have thought this one through.
By Rand Paul's reasoning, gun rights don't exist because buying, carrying, and/or firing a weapon is a "behavior."
By Rand Paul's reasoning, religious rights don't exist because embracing a faith tradition, practicing its tenets, and attending services is a "behavior."
By Rand Paul's reasoning, free-speech rights don't exist because expressing one's opinions and speaking one's mind is a "behavior."
By Rand Paul's reasoning, voting rights don't exist because participating in an election and exercising the franchise is a "behavior."
There are a great number of issues the unannounced presidential candidate claims to take seriously, but he does not seem to understand beyond a superficial level. Paul has largely gotten away with this so far -- much of the Beltway media is too preoccupied with how "interesting" they find him to notice his confusion -- but once he's a candidate for national office, this will become much more difficult.