Who knew that NBA Commissioners enjoyed such plenary and sweeping powers?
Say something privately in your own home which NBA commissioner Adam Silver does not like, and he evidently thinks he can, without due process or any further ado, slap you with a $2.5 million dollar fine (I’m still trying to calculate how many dollars that is per word), ban you for life from attending any games or practices or setting foot in any facility or participating in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team you own, and then force you to sell your team.
(How I wonder do you sell a billion-dollar sports franchise while not participating in business decisions regarding that franchise? Are you supposed to be prohibited by the commissioner’s edict from declining any offer as too low? I hereby bid $1.)
Kings, popes, and presidents can’t, these days, simply wave a scepter and fine people they don’t like millions of dollars, or ban them from having any contact with or exercising any power over business entities (worth as much as a billion dollars) which they own. Those sports league commissioners are hot stuff.
It seems to me that, legally speaking, Mr. Sterling should have pretty good prospects of contesting all of this, if he chooses to do so.
Despite the enthusiasm of the media lynch mob, I’m not clear myself as to what Mr. Sterling’s actual racial views are or precisely what he is guilty of. The current scandal revolves around a leaked recording, made illegally and presumably released by Sterling’s former mistress “V.Stiviano” aka Maria Vanessa Perez, who is presumably disgruntled about being sued by Mrs. Sterling.
The conversation in the recording is less than completely clear. Ms. Stiviano refers repeatedly to racism and animosity toward blacks and seems to be deliberately attempting to elicit potentially inflammatory statements from Sterling. The context of the conversation seems to be a previous demand by Sterling (not heard in the recording) that Stiviano remove pictures of herself with black sports figures from her Instagram account and his request that she should not accompany them to Clippers games. Who precisely has a problem with the photos and the association at games is unclear. At one point, Sterling seems to be referring to the practical necessity of bowing to society’s prejudice, which he feels unable to change. It seemed to me, listening to the conversation, that it would hardly be surprising that a rich 80-year-old man would object to his youthful girlfriend flaunting public evidence of her association with much younger athletic men.
In any event, Sterling actually expressed no personal racial opinions at all. He also seemed to be noticing Stiviano’s efforts to put words in his mouth, and complained of her hostility.
The public record of Sterling’s career offers very mixed evidence. It seems on the face of it unlikely that anyone who invested in ownership of a sports franchise of a game dominated by black players is personally hostile to African Americans. The record indicates that Sterling, who is a major real estate investor, was obliged to settle a government lawsuit contending that he had practiced rental discrimination against blacks and Hispanics, but those kinds of lawsuits commonly confuse perfectly legal social class discrimination with protected class discrimination. If Sterling is obsessed with racial prejudice, why did he select a Hispanic girlfriend who was partially of African-American descent? Why was he a prominent donor to the NAACP scheduled to receive a lifetime humanitarian award this year? Why did Sterling hand out basketball game tickets in large numbers to needy inner city kids, and support charities and sports camps for their benefit?
The real question, though, is: So what if Donald Sterling was actually Grand Exalted Kleagle of Greater Los Angeles and, in his heart of hearts, hated all blacks like poison? The First Amendment guarantees Freedom of Religion, which surely must include freedom to adopt whatever social and moral opinions in a private context one likes.
When exactly did America become a leftist theocratic state, in which a strange alliance of capitalism and revolutionary bolshevism is able to impose tests of politically correct opinion? Apparently, today, if you donate money to political efforts to oppose Gay Marriage you are not allowed to become CEO of a major software company. Get caught on a secret recording telling your mistress not to post pictures of herself with black guys, and you get banned from basketball.
Dave Blount rightly wonders: The way we are going, how long exactly will it be before the community of fashion starts burning heretics at the stake?
For all the lockstep sanctimonious sputtering from everyone on TV and radio, this story is not about race. It is about freedom and its opposite, coerced ideological homogeneity.
At this point the stampeded cattle comprising the American public will probably agree that anyone who does not want his mistress hanging out with blacks is so awful that he should be burned at the stake. But if the thought police are successful at immolating Sterling, next time it might not be about race. Next time the thought criminal will be someone who said something not currently politically fashionable about homosexuals â€” and/or about the Bible. Soon it could be a remark expressing doubts about the dangers of global warming that turns someone into Emmanuel Goldstein. If we continue down this road, within a few years, criticism of government figures could bring out the lynch mob.