Skip to content

Sterling’s remarks were private, protected

LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling (Image: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling (Image: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

There’s a good editorial in the Boston Globe today about LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling; it expresses some ideas that we should be hearing from a lot more sources. Among those I’ve seen, former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar came closest to echoing my thoughts when he wrote on Monday:

“Shouldn’t we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media? Didn’t we just call to task the NSA for intruding into American citizens’ privacy in such an un-American way?”

Sterling’s racist remarks were offensive and would and should not be acceptable in public. But the remarks were made in a private conversation. And they were recorded surreptitiously and illegally — and then leaked to the media. Yet we’ve heard virtually no condemnation of the girlfriend who made the recording, nor of her releasing it as an act of vengeance against Sterling. She committed a crime; he said some nasty things in private. She’s walking away; he’s received a lifetime ban from the NBA and will likely be forced to sell his team. What’s wrong with this picture?

Once again we are seeing a massive outpouring of public outrage and condemnation, totally disproportionate to the offense. A figurative mob mentality. Or a bunch of guilty consciences. Or an effort to appear more politically correct than the next guy. Or all of these. Not to mention throwing in past offenses which have no direct bearing on Sterling’s NBA activities. It’s as though there’s a new McCarthyism sweeping the country, only now it’s racism instead of communism.

I’m not defending Sterling. He sounds like a truly unpleasant person. But what he said was said in private. Had his words not been publicized to and by the media, nothing about his relationship with the Clippers would have changed. Has he behaved poorly with them? Has he engaged in discriminatory or racist behavior toward them? If not, why should something he said in a private conversation cost him his NBA relationship?

I harbor some private thoughts and beliefs that are not politically correct, and you probably do, too. We all do. We have thoughts and opinions that are not very nice, that wouldn’t be acceptable to a lot of people. But we don’t act on them. We keep them to ourselves, or perhaps confide only in close friends or family members who share similar beliefs. There are no laws against thoughts and opinions, only against actions and behavior. We don’t have thought police in this country. Yet.

 

15 Comments »

  1. I agree 100%, Susan ! It’s mob mentality, and I detest that. I also detest that the NBA has done nothing about him for a long time, and then leaped onto this bandwagon. If there’s anything that makes me puke, it’s bandwagons …

  2. I agree with your assessment of the Sterling mess. Even though the latest revelation confirms his background of racism and bigotry, it ought not be a crime to express one’s thoughts privately. This morning during my workout at the Y, I listened to a recent history of the ACLU, something I recommend to anyone who hasn’t really looked into it. It would not surprise me if that organization were to help Sterling with his legal problems, just for the reasons you well describe. After all, they once defended the first amendment rights of the Ku Klux Klan.

  3. Love your last 3 paragraphs. Ditto. Ditto Ditto
    It’s become so much of a knee jerk emotion driven crowd mentality so much recently.
    Basically, an old rich guy having trouble with his mistress (scorned woman…and why is she recording so much, Honey Sugarbaby?) who had a pretty cushy life by her own choice – and a mad (with reason) wife (also scorned woman) who filed a lawsuit against someone she sees as a gold digger and home wrecker.. No fool like an old fool?
    So what else is new?
    Rabid and drooling media. Careful what you say to anyone these days.
    We’ve probably not seen the last of this. He’s got money for lawyers.
    One thing confusing me is why Kerry says something – and it gets out – and immediately people say how sorry they are that got released as it was a private conversation – not in public and not intended for public ears….(good for the goose, good for the gander, media?)
    SIGH.
    Excellent post.

  4. We all “harbor some private thoughts and beliefs that are not politically correct” PT. I know my own views on things like African-American racists, the treatment of non-believers by religious folk, and the teachings of Ayn Rand, have gotten me in hot water with friends and family on many occasions. But no one has started a massive campaign to deny me my right to say those things.

    I had an interesting conversation on this subject with my middle son, who is way more into sports-related news than I am (I’d actually never heard of Stirling before this). We were both amazed by how few people followed up on, or even mentioned, the point made by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the violation of privacy issue.

    My son went on to tell me about an audio-only interview video with ESPN sports journalist Bomani Jones that he’d posted on Facebook. I think everyone should listen to it, as Mr. Jones makes some very good points about the hypocrisy involved here and how little has been done to deal with the actual damage Stirling and others like him have done – something he’d been reporting on for years with little effect. You can listen to it here.

    As far as Mr. Stirling’s offensive speech is concerned, I think that is better addressed by things like the Harper Lee quote image posted by Always Question Authority. At least that’s how I’d handle it…

    • Harper Lee was right. Such men are trash. Too many wealthy people think that in addition to everything else, their money can buy class. It can’t. You either have class, or you don’t. You can’t buy it.

  5. Abdul-Jabbar was making thoughtful, intelligent statements as far back as his early days in the NBA. I hope people like him once again will seek to do public service through the election process. We badly such voices of moderation and common sense, yet indignation at excesses in many areas, as our representatives.

    • It’s sad our political system has gotten so screwed up that intelligent, honest, thoughtful, well-intentioned individuals will not run for office. Who’d want to become a part of that dirty mess? And it seems the few good candidates who do get elected inevitably succumb to the deal-making, compromising, etc. that apparently is necessary to get anything done. There are too many days now when I feel there is just no way for good people to retake control of our government.

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: