Not being a basketball fan, I have never heard of Donald Sterling before, but from what I have seen, he seems to be a slimeball. Having said that, he is a private citizen and what he has been recorded as saying, he said entirely in private concerning a private matter between him and his girlfriend. The proper response to hearing this illegally recorded conversation (unlike Canada, recording somebody’s conversation without their knowledge is against the law in California) is to say that it is none of our business.
But in the land of the free and the home of the brave, it seems every private utterance an American citizen makes is a public matter that needs to be adjudicated and, if necessary, punished.
I might be able to see the justice of that if he were, say, a public official, or a candidate for office. In that case, it would provide a window for the voting public on what the pol really thinks. As a result, what Reverend Wright said in his public sermons to his parishioners was of interest to American citizens in 2008 because one of them - who had publically praised his teachings - was running for President. Also, the fact that Jay Carney has commie propaganda posters on his living room walls provides important perspective on the man who speaks for the President.
But Donald Sterling is not a public official. He is a private individual with private interests that are none of our business. On CNN Monday evening (I know, I know, it was on TV at my gym and I couldn’t help overhearing) various black basketball players took turns denouncing him and demanding that he be stripped of his team. I believe it was Charles Barkley who said that Sterling stepped over the line because the NBA is 80% black and Sterling has power over those players. First, black NBA basketball players of 2014 are not illiterate sharecroppers, exploited by a cruel system that stacks the deck against them to keep them in the depths of poverty so as to better control them. They are multimillionaire celebrities with options galore. But OK, it is still wrong when a racist team owner conspires to keep a player’s salary down at $1 million per year when it might be $2 million in a fair world. So, got any proof that that is actually going on? And if it were, wouldn’t the disenfranchised player be able to move to another team whose owner just wants to win and isn’t animated by racial politics? Unless of course, all the NBA owners are in some kind of anti-black cabal. Any proof of that? (Spike Lee, I’m looking at you.)
In their zeal to burn the witch, Sterling’s accusers also play down the context of his infamous conservation: he was in the midst of a dispute with his much younger girlfriend, who was posting pictures of herself (without him) on the internet with black athletes. In other words, the dispute was not over black people in the abstract but on specific black men who he had reason to believe where having affairs with the young lady who he had been lavishing his money on. The conversation also sounds like she may have been coached by her lawyer to steer his pronouncements to politically incorrect conclusions. None of this turns Sterling into the reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi, but a man’s guilt or innocence cannot be properly judged without considering such mitigating details.
That is, if he actually did something that is our business to judge him for.