All things considered, it’s unfair to prematurely criticize Rand Paul over his college years.
By Micah Hanks
LAST UPDATED: 5:04 PM 8/10/10
This weekend at the Fancy Farm Picnic event in Kentucky, Senate candidate Rand Paul received some glowing endorsements from Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, as well as Secretary of State Trey Grayson, amidst a lively crowd of supporters gathered together for a loud time under a metal roof. Bluegrass music played in the background while Kentucky Democrat and Republican candidates squared off in short debates, and all the while a group of Paul’s supporters carried large boxes with “U.S. Tax Code” etched on them above their heads, symbolizing the weight of taxation on the populace.
The events of this weekend were to be politics as usual for the Libertarian-Republican candidate, but Monday morning turned out to be a different story. Courtesy of GQ Magazine, Rand Paul received some press of a different kind, with allegations that the Kentucky Senate hopeful engaged in a variety of peculiar antics while attending Baylor College, a Christian university in Texas, back in the 1980s.
Among the unconfirmed allegations made, it is said that Paul belonged to a strange secret society that, in an obviously tongue-in-cheek fashion, claimed to worship “the Aqua Buddha.” According to the story of a former classmate from Baylor speaking on conditions of anonymity, Paul and a student “kidnapped” her one day in an attempt to get her to smoke marijuana with them. When she refused, she was taken to a creek and asked to bow in worship to this nefarious false-god, the “Aqua Buddha.” Writing for Salon.com, Alex Pareene notes that Paul’s campaign staff initially had not denied the incident in an official capacity, but the following day Paul announced plans to sue GQ over the story. “This stuff is just outrageous and ridiculous,” he told Fox News. “No, I never was involved with kidnapping. No, I never was involved with forcibly drugging people.”
The “victim” who allegedly gave the details of the bizarre story to GQ writer Jason Zengerle did point out that Paul and his accomplice “never hurt me, they never did anything wrong,” and that the event “was some kind of joke.” While the truth of the matter remains unclear at present, what GQ characterizes as a devilish, idolatrous act gone awry, seems more likely to have been a prank visit from a friend and fellow swim team member, according to the anonymous source.
Looking at the available evidence, the alleged photograph of Paul’s fraternity, the “NoZe Brothers,” at the GQ website doesn’t appear to depict a dangerous gang of hoodlums, per say. And when it comes to secret societies, considering the number of journalists, doctors, politicians, and even U.S. Presidents who have been members of secret fraternities while attending Ivy League universities, the so-called NoZe Brothers seem far-less dark and mysterious; still, these factors rest on the assumption that the allegations from Paul’s younger days are even true to begin with. At present, Paul vehemently denies all allegations.
Even in the event that a kernel of truth were to emerge from the story, it would be unfair to say that many, if not most people who have attended college in their youth haven’t engaged in a good bit of silliness. Though it likely won’t conflict with Paul’s more libertarian voter-base, some of the conservatives who plan to support him may frown on the allegations of drug use; Paul denies that this ever occurred either, but would it be much different from President Obama admitting to using cocaine, or former President George Bush’s DUI arrest, or even former President Bill Clinton’s admission of trying marijuana, but choosing “not to inhale”? All things considered, it would seem a bit hypocritical for most politicians–or anyone else–to reprimand Rand Paul for such activities, even if they were found to be true.
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr.