Jon Chait, describing Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), recently said, “He’s not only an ideological fanatic, he’s not even a terribly bright one.”

The evidence to bolster this assertion keeps piling up. In the latest display, Kentucky’s junior senator chatted with Sean Hannity about his unique take on the First Amendment.

“I’m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they’ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they’ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders. It wouldn’t be that they are Islamic.

“But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison.”

I guess Sharron Angle’s fans would be in big trouble.

Look, I realize there are some dangerous folks out there, some of whom promote the violent overthrow of the government. But Republicans have not yet repealed the First Amendment, and simply listening to radical speech is not yet a crime. The idea of the United States government passing a law making it illegal to be in the same vicinity as someone engaged in radical speech is ridiculous. What if you’re a reporter covering the remarks? What if you’re just curious about how crazy the speech really is? Paul, apparently, believes you belong in handcuffs.

It’s all the more offensive coming from a senator whose raison d’etre is supposed to be an unyielding commitment to limited government, civil liberties, and libertarian ideals. To hear the self-accredited ophthalmologist tell it, he’s practically obsessed with constitutional freedoms.

In other words, Paul, of all people, should find his own beliefs deeply offensive. That is, if he understood what he was saying.

Alex Pareene recently said Paul appears to be “America’s dumbest senator.” There’s stiff competition for such a title, but the Kentuckian appears well on his way to earning it.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.