What is Rand Paul up to?

It appears that the airport scanner in Nashville’s airport found something on Rand Paul, but he then refused a pat down and was instantly detained, according to Presidential Candidate Ron Paul. The TSA claims that Ron is lying about Rand, and that the latter was not detained.

Apparently, later, Paul booked another flight and got through the screening. Presumably he dumped whatever he was holding during the first attempt through security. I wonder what it was.


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22 thoughts on “What is Rand Paul up to?

  1. As much as I despise Ron and Rand Paul, let’s not pretend that the only reason one would refuse a pat-down is that one is “hiding something.” One could be making a stand for civil liberties, and we should respect that (strictly in this context, though…the Pauls’ refusal to consider any freedoms or government protections that are not of use to rich white men causes me no end of facepalms, but even a broken clock is right twice a day).

  2. Respect what? Pretend? Only reason? There is no only reason being pretended here!

    Rand Paul has shown himself to be a dishonest and despicable hypocrite. I don’t care why his scan showed an anomaly, but I would feel rather stupid assuming that he was standing on some moral high ground as the default assumption. If I had to guess, I’d guess he was carrying something he should not have been carrying or that he did not want people to see, rather than that he was making a stand. And I emphasize guess.

    The thing is, if one lets one’s imagination run (and I do like KathyO’s suggestion!) then one would probably think of all sorts of possibilities more … interesting … than reality.

  3. Actually, protection from unwarranted searches is one of the few things libertarians get right. Ron Paul even proposed an American Traveler Dignity Act when the naked scanners and pat-downs were new (and reintroduced the legislation earlier this year), so this is one particular instance where they are not being hypocritical.

    Now, it is perfectly fair to say, “Ron and Rand Paul are total douchebags in just about every area of their politics [and boy, are they ever!!], but they still don’t deserve to be made fun of for objecting to an unconstitutional search, because no one, no matter their level of douchebaggery, deserves that indignity.”

    Or, we could even be honest and say, “My schadenfreude at Rand Paul getting detained is based entirely on his other right-wing equality-hating positions, and as much as I love to mock him at any turn, this particular incident has no bearing on his heretofore well-established douchebaggery.”

  4. Left, you should try to stick to the facts. There was no refusal on constitutional grounds, the story put out by Paul and Paul is in major conflict with the TSA version; There is no indication that this was a political act but there is specific evidence … the anomaly … suggesting that Paul had something on him that was disdcovered, and specific evidence … his refusal of a pat down, and apparently a refusal to just give up whatever was under his clothing (belt buckle? Wallet? metallic dildo? Who knows?) for inspection … that he was possibly hiding something.

    I am being quite reasonable in my refusal to assume that Rand Paul was acting in some sort of flurry of libertarian morality as the default assumption.

    And you are done telling me that I’m being unfair and dishonest.

  5. Well, you are being unfair. Refusing a scan or pat-down is a perfectly legitimate thing to do. The Pauls’ illegitimate stances far outweigh their legitimate ones, but that does not mean you can assume illegitimacy in all things. I did not say ever say you were being dishonest, nor do I now. I just think you’re deeply misguided in this case.

    Frankly, statements do not have to be overtly political nor does someone have to make a speech about their refusal in order for it to be based on constitutional grounds or personally-held principle. I do not have the luxury of being able to afford missing a flight to refuse a pat-down, so I have to undergo one, and as much as I would love to make a bigger fuss, I can’t. However, when I refuse a backscatter machine I generally do not go into a long-winded discussion of the Fourth Amendment, I just say I opt-out, because I’ve learned they won’t listen to anything else (and the more I speak up the more it increases the chance of them touching my private parts punitively). That doesn’t make my refusal any less principle-based, nor is it any indication that I (or anyone else) am hiding anything by refusing to comply with an unconstitutional demand.

    As for “anomaly,” do you realize what those machines will call an “anomaly”? Here is some actual evidence of what has been considered an “anomaly.”

    Dave Barry got one for a blurred groin:


    A service member (and rape survivor) had a very triggering TSA groping because her feminine protection product registered on the screen:


    An “anomaly” might also be a prosthesis for breast cancer:


    This “anomaly” could have been anything from movement artifact to a kneebrace to a kilogram of cocaine. I just plain don’t care.

    In conclusion, acting like “Well, if they’ve refused a search they’re hiding something” IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. Please stop pursuing this repulsive and totalitarian line of reasoning. Part of being an ethical human being includes respecting the personal rights of our enemies as well as our friends. There are plenty of good reasons to pick on Ron or Rand Paul. Please use one of them and do not engage in a smear tactic that drags rape victims, cancer survivors, parents of small children, and people with anxiety disorders into your accusations of being untrustworthy.

  6. What you are telling me is that you know what happened, or at least you know what the default assumption should be, and that my thinking that there is a range of possibilities is unfair. I suppose this is what I should expect from a Paul supporter.

  7. Yes, I do know what the default assumption should be: innocent until proven guilty. It’s kind of a big deal. I also consider it highly unlikely that Rand Paul was actually planning to blow up a plane, and that is the only even remotely defensible justification for such a search. Yeah, he may have had something embarrassing on him, but I believe in respecting people’s privacy, and unconstitutional searches are not an acceptable means to find embarrassing or incriminating items, NO MATTER WHAT the political leanings of the person in question are.

    I also provided evidence as to how “anomalies” may be utterly benign, so it is by no means an unreasonable position to ask someone to refrain from speculating about someone’s personal habits (even when their politics are disgusting) because TSA searches are rather famous for making a big deal out of nothing.

    Finally, I am not a Paul (Ron or Rand) supporter. I think I have made that abundantly clear. How many times do I have to say that I “despise” them, that they’re “douchebags,” that they’re privileged and self-interested, that whatever they get right on civil liberties are the result of a “broken-clock” phenomenon, that most of their political stances are “illegitimate,” “right-wing”, and “equality-hating,” and that I consider them “enemies,” for me to make a point about civil rights that is entirely divorced from any support of them as people or politicians?

    As I said in my prior comment, my concern is based on the effect that these searches have on the well-being and civil rights of the American public in general, and I think the “if you don’t have something to hide then what are you afraid of” attitude is very dangerous to our national discourse. I do not think it is appropriate in any context, even (partly?) in jest. Moreover, I consider it a human right not to be touched in intimate areas without one’s consent. The thing about human rights is that they even apply to total douchebags like the Pauls.

  8. And, to add to the general irony, I just found out that apparently Rand Paul found himself taking this stand about the necessity of keeping his body free from governmental intrusion when he was on his way to a forced-pregnancy rally so that he could demand governmental intrusion on women’s bodies!!! Oh, boy, you just can’t make this up!

    While it is certainly true that no one deserves to be coerced into submitting to a groping in order to travel, I humbly suggest that being forced to have something grow inside you for nine months, risking various medical complications, and then enduring what is often a very painful birth and/or surgery, is a SLIGHTLY bigger invasion of bodily integrity than a pat-down!!

    But, even though Rand Paul is a total asshat who loves to chip away at my freedom for political gain, I will not deny him his right to be free of search or assault, because I have a baseline respect for my fellow human beings. Even though I could never vote for him or his racist blowhard father, and disagree with him on just about everything else (and this whole situation perfectly encapsulates my stance that he can be right about civil rights **only when it’s relevant to him** and is otherwise an insensitive pompous asshole), I will not let my general dislike of Rand Paul seep into allowing me to disparage constitutional freedoms.

  9. I’m too tired right now to engage in a full-on discussion, but after reading these comments, I’m quite annoyed with Greg Laden’s reasoning abilities. I agree with LeftSidePositive’s take on this. For whatever reason, Rand Paul refused a pat-down, which is a decision that’s should be protected by the 4th Amendment.

  10. I’ve never stepped foot in the US, but I get a strong sense that the TSA is very unpopular. The Paul’s are politicians…
    I’ll stop there because somehow I don’t think Grandma needs me to teach her how to suck eggs.

  11. Actually Greg, it appears that you are the one making the strong implications that you know what happened. LeftSidePositive is raising appropriate questions that we do not know what really occurred, and that there are actually multiple reasons why he might have refused.

    Rather than acknowledge that you have no evidence for your suspicions, you have dug your heels in and even put in a bit of an ad hominem attack in post 6. I strongly recommend that you reread the exchanges above.

    And, no, I am in no way a Ron or Rand Paul supporter. I personally find libertarians to be hopelessly naive idiots in general. And while I suspect the worst of all politicians, without something more than “He refused to be patted down” for unknown reasons, I have to reserve judgment.

  12. Greg, you are being unfair here. LeftSidePositive is clearly not a Paul supporter. Read the above posts!!! “The Pauls’ illegitimate stances far outweigh their legitimate ones…” Anyway LeftSidePositive’s political leanings have no bearing on the validity of his argument.

  13. It’s easy for Rand Paul to pretend to take a brave stand on this matter. He may be the stoopidest person currently sitting in the Senate, but he is smart enough to know that he’s a white Christian Republican, and that means he won’t actually be treated as a suspected terrorist. And as his second attempt to fly shows, he didn’t end up on a no-fly list.

    When I first heard the story, I was inclined to think he was actually right about something. Now I’m hearing about these conflicting stories, and I’m starting to think he’s either too stupid or too dishonest to be right about even this.

    If he was searched arbitrarily, I’d sympathize. But if he (knowingly or not) carried something that would have raised alarms, then I’m not so sympathetic. The TSA’s actions are not all reasonable, but the threat they’re responding to IS real, and has been long before 9/11.

  14. Wait a second here, I implied that maybe Paul was hiding something. Left said that he almost certainly was taking a moral stand. There is no evidence except way after the fact that there was a moral stand being taken, but reasonable but certainly not definitive evidence that he might have had something on him he didn’t want discovered.

    To assume that this was most certainly a moral stand over libertarianism and that this is much more likely than anything else seems to require a significant amount of faith that Paul is morals driven and not a hypocritical dick. To lean towards the idea that he was MAYBE carrying something, presumably by accident, that he didn’t want discovered requires no such leaps of faith.

    We do not know what happened. I never claimed we knew what happened. I’m being told that we know what happened. I’m sticking to my guns.

    Plus, you do realize, do you not, that this post was rather tongue in cheek? Oh, I guess maybe not.

    Carry on.

    Sorry for all the moderation of comments by the way, I’m not entirely sure why that is happening. People are hitting keywords of some kind, I suspect.

  15. I suspect Rand Paul forgot he had something on his person that he couldn’t carry onto a plane, but didn’t want to relinquish, so he refused the pat-down. He booked another flight, put the item into his checked luggage, and got on his way.

    I recently had to relinquish a corkscrew because I’d forgotten it in my bag, so I can sympathize with the guy, even if more generally I think he’s a tool. I think what LeftSidePositive was saying is that schadenfreude is not appropriate given the common interest we all share with Rand in this situation.

    I think you might also apologize to LSP for mischaracterizing him as a Rand or Ron Paul supporter.

  16. If RPJr was taking a principled stand, he would have made some (very effective) political theater out of this (apparently unplanned) episode.

    We can fairly conclude that he declined the opportunity presented by the TSA challenge because he didn’t want the nature of the problematic package made public. To keep that secret, he was willing to miss a flight – a non-trivial trade-off for anyone, and especially for a tightly-scheduled US senator.

    Good catch to LeftSidePositive @ # 9 for revealing that the Aqua Buddhist was on his way to an anti-privacy-rights event when he chose to assert and prioritize his own privacy.

  17. Greg, I never said that he was “almost certainly” taking a moral stand. I said he “could be” and I showed that people do not always need to make a big speech for their principles to be a motivating factor (indeed, some people who refuse various things assume their principles go without saying), and I discussed my own experience in airports as to how making a statement is not always practical (in fact, the whole “opt-out” movement against body scanners often just says to say you opt out, and doesn’t necessarily advise lecturing the poor schmuck working there).

    Moreover, Rand Paul has been consistently opposed to TSA practices, so it’s entirely reasonable that he was likely opposed to the invasion of privacy. Hypocrisy is something that hypocritical people do when it is in their best interests, but it doesn’t follow that everything they do therefore MUST be hypocritical–if their previous positions actually support them in this case, they will stick to their prior positions.

    I’m not telling you what definitely happened–I am telling you what the ethical attitude is toward whatever happened, and that is that unconstitutional searches are wrong and therefore speculating about the victim of an unconstitutional search is wrong. And, I just plain don’t think it’s funny.

    Now, Rand Paul making a big deal about the sanctity of his body while trying to make the state violate other people’s bodies? THAT is hypocrisy. Make fun of him for THAT, and it would be funny as hell.

  18. @Lou Jost:

    Anyway LeftSidePositive’s political leanings have no bearing on the validity of his argument.

    Sorry to be picky, but it’s her argument. Can we do something about this default-on-the-Internet-is-male thing?

    Not that I’m offended at all–it’s just, well, a bit of an out-of-body experience if you know what I mean 😉

  19. @Pierce R Butler, #18:

    Okay, so this point has nothing to do with Rand Paul per se, but there seems to be a misconception that comes up a lot in harassment/assault cases, so I might as well address it here:

    Generally, it’s virtually impossible to know what someone “would have done” in a situation when you weren’t there (and this isn’t a matter of just “having the facts”–even very hard-to-define things like others’ tone of voice, how tired someone is, any vague implications that they might be unsafe can have a role in how people react). People (especially women) get their claims of all kinds of abuse disbelieved because people on the sidelines (who may have never been in any situation even close to the issue) have a lot of folk-wisdom about what people would “really do” and how someone “should have reacted.” People get very unpredictable when they’re uncomfortable.

    Actually, with most instances of intimidation/coercion/unexpected or uncomfortable situations, it’s really quite the norm to be rather passive or to make a less-than-effective stand for yourself, and then try to address the issue later when you’ve had a chance to compose yourself.

    Again, this really isn’t about Rand Paul (he seems to be doing exactly the grandstanding you describe after the fact, and even during his spokesperson was promoting the event on Twitter), but it’s just a line of reasoning that is damaging to a lot of people, so I want to squash it where I see it.

  20. W/E on the hypocrisy or not, what Im wondering is how he wasn’t arrested for refusing to be searched. Once your in security and set off the scanner they dont exactly give you the choice of “oh gee I think Im going to skip this flight after all”.

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