Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Did I hear this right

Okay. So Donald Sterling, the soon-to-be former owner of the Clippers, was taped by his mistress, whom he was suing for embezzlement, making some vile racist statements.

And so now he's banned for life, and has to sell the team? (Though considering the profit he will make...)

I think of what my dad used to say: that the beauty of free speech is that the jerks out themselves. Should Sterling be banned? I don't think so. Should individuals decide not to go to Clippers games in protest of him? That's their right. Should sponsors drop him because they don't want to be associated with him? That's their right. Should some of the players leave for other teams? If they want to, and they get an offer, that's their right.

I suspect that even without the banning and forced sale, Sterling would suffer some pretty serious consequences. And yeah, I suppose he should. Though then again: of those of us who know 80 year old or older guys, how many of them HAVEN'T said something cringeworthy about another race. Or about women. Or about gays. Or immigrants. Or whoever?

I don't like the idea of doubleplusungood speech leading to immediate life banination. Let consequences work themselves out: sponsors drop the guy, maybe some players decide, "Hey, I want to go work for another team instead," loss of fans. Because beginning to attach extra-special-bad penalties to speech you don't like....well, I fear that leads down a bad path. Thoughts become, if not crimes, dang close to it.

Edited to add: On further thought - if there was some kind of a clause in the contract he signed to become an owner that prohibited certain actions, then OK. Though I know those things can be nebulous and can be interpreted more loosely or tightly, depending on how much some leadership entity wants to be rid of a person.

There are certain things I can't do and keep tenure. Oh, some of them would be pretty bonehead things - if I were convicted of a felony, for example. But some of the other things are more nebulous. What, for example, is "moral turpitude"? I have heard of faculty (not here) having affairs with undergraduate students. In my book, that would qualify as turpitude for several reasons. And yet, the people concerned kept their tenure....

Though I suspect at this point the guy is so tainted by what's happened, by the "gotcha" journalism, that he's gonna have to bow out.

Yes, what he said was vile. If an older male relative of mine said it, I'd walk out of the room and later tell him I didn't appreciate what was said. But it sounds like there's plenty of vileness to go around in the situation. (And for that matter, there are NBA stars who have said and done some fairly vile things).

Mostly this just makes me sad. Not just for what Sterling said but for the fact that it involved a much younger mistress (I wonder how his wife feels) who was allegedly embezzling and who set up taping in order to entrap him in saying something that apparently she could use against him. No one in this situations is dripping with virtue.

I confess, sometimes I think about that old Simpsons episode, where something bad is going to happen to the earth, and there are two spaceships: one with the Useful People on it (where Lisa gains a seat for her skill in proofreading - which would probably also be how I got myself on such a ship) and another one, bound for the sun, with the Useless People on it. And well, okay, I'm not as bloodthirsty as that, if there were two ships, one bound for a New And Better Earth and one bound for a Survivable but Just Meh Earth, I'd put Sterling, his mistress, and most of the people who called for his head on a platter on that second ship.

People. They never fail in their capacity to disappoint me.

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