It hurt a bit — listening to Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul say he sees nothing wrong with private business owners deciding who can enter their establishments even if those decisions are based on race, physical disabilities, sexual orientation, or any characteristic that marks a person as a minority.
For a moment Wednesday evening while watching the Rachel Maddow Show, I was transported to a time decades ago when similar words were rolling from the lips of noted segregationists Lester Maddox in Georgia and George Wallace in Alabama.
Back then, those men proudly proclaimed their beliefs that states' rights superseded federal laws when it came to equality for African-Americans.
I don't think Paul is racist, not in the vein of a Maddox or a Wallace back when the civil rights movement was gathering steam.
I truly believe he is an intellectual with conservative views that haven't really been tried out in the real world.
Paul honestly said he was in favor of most of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and I believe him.
The only part he didn't like, apparently, was the part that required private businesses to get with the program.
When pushed, Paul had to stick to his Libertarian/Tea Party guns. He believes that government has the right to rule over public institutions, but no right to dicker with the policies of business owners. If he abandoned that idea, he would have to join the rest of us in reality who know that selfish policies negatively affect lives.
My brother, who was an electronics engineer, said he was always glad he had been an electronics technician first, because he understood both the worlds of ideas and implementation in the real world.
Paul needs more real world experience.
As I watched that show, my 19-year-old son entered the room and focused on the exchange unfolding. Maddow tried to pin Paul down about his views of the Civil Rights Act. He did a verbal tap dance. After several minutes, my son said, "He's not answering the questions. He's dancing around the subject."
Well, he has to, I said. Paul's a politician, one appealing to his conservative base.
Paul did say he wouldn't frequent discriminatory businesses and might even picket them to get them to change their ways. But, he said, no matter how boorish, those owners had the right to determine who they served or admitted.
In reality though, Paul is saying those owners have a right to live in America and enjoy American privileges, but they don't have to extend those privileges to others or be subjected to the laws of the land.
I have heard those arguments for decades. My parents had hoped I wouldn't hear them and I had prayed my children wouldn't. Their hopes and my prayers were denied.
Wednesday evening, sitting with my son, I knew yet another generation of minorities was going have to continue the fight for equality.
And it's not just the Civil Rights Act that Paul has issues with. He's not too keen on the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act and just about any other law that tries to ensure equal, basic freedoms.
Instead of creating the disability act, Paul said he favored having handicapped workers relegated to the first floor of a two-story building rather than having the business owner provide high-priced access to the second floor.
It is "separate but equal" in a different form. That didn't work before the Civil Rights Act and it won't work now.
What Paul doesn't get is that these "rights" arguments will never hold sway over moral justice.
The Civil Rights Act was about justice; it was about equality; it had nothing to do with money or individual rights. It was about treating human beings humanely.
If we can't manage to do that on our own, the government has to step in and correct that.
This is not an interesting intellectual discussion. This is about my life and the lives of my children.
If the doors of your business or your apartment building are open to the public, then it is open to me as well.
The good thing about the Civil Rights Act is that everybody won. Those business owners Paul talks about have daughters who watched barriers fall in their own lives because of that law's influence on the women's movement. They have friends who have gained a foot up. They themselves have even gained a dollar or two through anti-discrimination contracts.
It's about people. People with feelings.
Mine may have been a bit hurt Wednesday. But I've been hurt before.
Seeing the disappointment in my son's eyes, however, indicates he will have to start praying his children won't be considered disposable by folks who believe more in "me" than in "we."
Frank A. Clark, the author of a one-panel newspaper cartoon in the 1960s and later, once said, "We find comfort among those who agree with us — growth among those who don't."
Our government has given private business owners a chance to grow. Paul should do the same.