Sorry guys, the arrival of spring, baseball, high school activities, college campus tours, work, and generally life have been conspiring against me these last few weeks. I have had a most difficult time actually finding time to get something typed up, and it isn’t as if we have been news free for the last half of the month. But here it is May already. So let me throw something out there. I don’t really want to talk about Donald Sterling and the Clippers, but it seems that is what the entertainment people have been buzzing about lately.
Forget the Ukraine and Russian aggression, the crap coming out of Sotamayor’s mouth, China’s economic dominance or any of the other important political news out there right now, Sterling’s racism is all anyone wants to talk about. So we’ll do that.
Donald Sterling is a racist, of that there is no doubt. He said some very distasteful things that were recorded by his mistress and then somehow leaked to the press. However, it was pointed out by more than a few people to include all time NBA scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that it has been an open secret for years that Sterling is a racist. As far back as 2003 tenets living in Sterling’s properties filed a federal lawsuit against him for, “numerous discriminatory statements and housing practices,” in 2006 when Sterling was sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination and then again in 2009 when he was sued by the general manager of the Clippers, Elgin Baylor, claiming that he was wrongfully terminated and underpaid because of his race. Sterling’s list of lawsuits for racism are consistent and numerous, going back more than a decade and suddenly the NBA is up in arms for his statements recorded in private and released to the press?
The NBA ought to be ashamed. Now I know that Adam Silver hasn’t been in charge for very long, but this is a knee jerk reaction to bad press that just happens to be practically worldwide. So basically my understanding is that as long as Sterling’s racism only came up in a court of law and didn’t make the nightly news that the NBA wasn’t going to do anything about it because the league is all about one thing, revenue.
Hell, the NAACP was going to give Sterling a lifetime achievement award this year for the work he has done in the black community for the last twenty years. The Los Angeles NAACP president said, “God teaches us to forgive, and the way I look at it, after a sustained period of proof to the African-American community that those words don’t reflect his heart, I think there’s room for forgiveness. I wouldn’t be a Christian if I said there wasn’t.” Then again Jenkins also said, “We are negotiating with him about giving more moneys to African-American students at UCLA, and so we are in preliminary discussions.” So his lifetime achievement wasn’t so much about the good works coming from him as it was his open wallet in regards to their pet projects. They had just as much access to public sources as anyone else and they could not have been blind to his past racism, but they were also willing to overlook it as long as it stayed within the local area, didn’t make the big news, and the money kept flowing in.
Kareem said it best when he said we have a moral outrage problem. We as Americans need to be consistent about what we believe and going out and persecuting someone over their words, recorded secretly and released to the press is just not the way we need to handle this situation.
If the NBA wants to use a ¾ vote by the owners to force Sterling out of ownership of the Clippers that is fine, that is well within their authority as the governing body. But they shouldn’t be punishing him for this one-time rant, which was possibly done illegally. I’m sure the courts aren’t done with this one. Instead they should be ousting him for his continued racist actions spanning over decades that have been in the courts.
Stifling a business owner and taking his franchise away for the things he says is a bad precedent towards freedom of speech. Don’t get me wrong. The Constitution clearly says that government shall not infringe, but at the same time I don’t think many of us want to live in a society where our jobs and livelihoods can be taken away from us simply because we had a moment of buffoonery and said something we might later regret. Think about poor Paula Deen, fired and vilified for reports of a word she said some twelve years before her firing. No, if the NBA wants to take his franchise from him they should be taking it away for the continued actions that have landed him in court over the years.
People should be able to speak their minds without fear of reprisal at all levels, it is when their actions become criminal that we need to worry about how their image affects the whole of their organization.