The Letters of Randal H. Paul (Biology '85) to the Baylor Lariat

The college-age Rand was a man of many opinions—which he expressed in a series of letters to his college newspaper.

on February 26, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Concerning his college years, Rand Paul is already notorious for his Aqua Buddha misadventure, apparently a sort of sui generis ritual of his secret society, NoZe. But he was a good student and an active political mind, if anything more contentious than he is today. The young Rand sent at least nine letters to the student newspaper between 1981 and 1983, reflecting his political ideas in embryonic form. They include a letter criticizing an earlier anti-gold standard op-ed ("Name-calling is a very illogical method of argumentation"), two letters on just how bad the U.S. Postal Service is, one about the nuclear industry calling for all subsidies to be returned to the individual taxpayer, and another calling draft registration "simply a symbolic act on the subjugation to government coercion."

—In a letter in the Nov. 6, 1981, issue, Paul argued that anti-discrimination legislation “ignores one of the basic, inalienable rights of man—the right to discriminate. Discrimination has become a dirty word in our society. However, Webster defines discrimination as 'the ability to perceive distinctions; perception; discernment.' Now then, don't we all discriminate? Don't we discriminate in the selection of friends, mates, employees, students? Discriminaton thus implies the recognition of individual talents, the discernment of inequality between individuals. The structure of affirmative action programs as well as quotas ignores this basic concept. These programs place the collective needs of a group above the talents of the individual. Thus, these programs will inevitably lead to injustice.”

—In a retort to an anti-nuclear “vigilante” in the Sept. 17, 1982, issue, Paul wrote: “That 6 million Americans could have died from man-made radiation does not imply radiation strictly from nuclear power, radiation also stems from such items as television sets, microwaves, X-rays, airplanes (jets) and atomic bombs. Radiation, moreover, is also a natural phenomenon. The average American receives over 100 mrems per year from natural sources, such as cosmic rays, radioactive minerals, and the radioactive potassium in one's own blood. Compared with the natural radiation, the 1-5 mrem per year for a 1,000 MW nuclear power plant is negligible.”

—In a March 25, 1983, letter on gun control, Paul wrote that “laws that wish to halt crime before that crime has occurred are merely attempts by those planners of society who would invoke their personal beliefs upon others. Gun control is such an attempt, and as such should be denigrated and condemned.”

—In a June 30, 1982, letter referencing the recently kiboshed Equal Rights Amendment, Paul wrote: “Now what is equal work? Have you some magical equation to determine equality in work? The answer must of necessity be a resounding 'no!' Equality is a thing of the mind, originated, conceived and promulgated on a subjective basis. […] And yet, all must agree that bigoted discrimination is detrimental to the peaceful interaction of different sexes and races in the marketplace. [...] Should we preach in order to bring about change, or should we compel? And if you doubt the power of persuasion through voluntary cooperation, look around. Women inhabit virtually every sphere of our economic lives without the ERA. Change comes slowly, but it does come.” 

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