Rand Paul staffer Jack Hunter has found himself on trial in a court of public opinion for writing he’s authored in the past. The list of pieces criticizing hunter includes articles with names like "Racists Love Ron and Rand Paul," "Rand Paul's Troubling Ties to Racists," and "Rand Paul Can't Understand Why Black Voters Don't Vote GOP." I don’t agree with everything Jack Hunter has ever said — heck, I don't even agree with everything I've ever said. I'm sure happy I got a chance to say it though, and that risk-takers like Jack Hunter have that same opportunity.
There's an important issue being fought over in this trial. Does Jack Hunter get to work for a public official after having had an opinion in the past?
On the edges of the political system, holding minority viewpoints, sometimes one can speak and have the feeling that no one is listening. There's a great liberty to being exposed to that as a developing writer. It pushes one to extremes. It makes one dig down to the depths of one’s heart in an attempt to say something true enough that someone will listen. Other people at those very moments turn to marketing, never actually having said anything true in order to find a listener or to connect with the reader. I don't know which of those two Hunter did. He likely did both at different times. Focusing more thoroughly on that would be irrelevant to the debate.
What's relevant is the question, "Can a person involved in government have said anything controversial in the past, anything that was not politically correct?" Having opinions like that and saying them in public means you have guts — it means you have chutzpah.
In our society, those who prefer the status quo, a.k.a. those with no guts, along with those who are sheep-like, a.k.a. those without a mind of their own, would like to marginalize those with guts and minds of their own. After all, the risk-takers must be marginalized for society to remain as it is.
Should Jack Hunter be isolated? Fired? Promoted? For a country that seeks to distinguish itself from those without free-speech protections, promoting the Jack Hunters of the world is one step in the right direction. There should be a Jack Hunter on every congressional and senatorial staff. Every small business, every corporation should want one. Academic institutions and think tanks that seek to matter seek them out. They are called mavericks, revolutionaries, founders, and out-of-the box thinkers. They are the ones who do and lead others to do truly great things and who inspire others to shift towards uniqueness, even if those shifts take great battles to accomplish and are many times only slight.
Steve Jobs tapped into that spirit: "Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes." They cannot be ignored. Sick people exist in the world who would clip the wings of the ones who see things differently. They are people incapable of little more than cheerleading for the status quo and attempting to clip the wings of those who challenge it.
Yet we must not be angry at the petty and small-minded. To attack greatness in others is their greatest purpose on earth. It is their knee-jerk reaction. As sick as it is to say, it is all they can do. Yet they too play a role of significance. A butterfly leaving the cocoon leaves through a small hole, struggling for hours. The struggle strengthens that butterfly for flight. If you "mercifully" enlarge the hole, that butterfly will have lost that opportunity to grow stronger. In the same way, the struggle against the petty is the duty of those who would be great. The struggle strengthens. The petty and small-minded, as odious as they are, are like that small hole that only the strong and strengthening get beyond and pass through.
The risk-takers among us, the brave among us, the revolutionaries among us, whether you agree with them or not, should be praised, should be encouraged, and should be given room in our society. Those who would marginalize them would marginalize our society's potential for change, including our society’s potential to achieve greater freedom. Marginalizing greatness in our society marginalizes our society itself.
That is the debate before us today. More than any other reason, that is the reason that I support Jack Hunter. To marginalize him is to marginalize me. To marginalize him is to penalize each of us.