Struggling with our Speech.
Posted by matreames
So by now you have probably heard the controversy surrounding Donald Sterling. If you haven’t let me sum up. Sterling owns the LA Clippers basketball organization and was caught on tape making racist remarks. (Which is stupid for anyone, but especially when you make your money on the talents of African-American basketball players.)
In the wake and backlash of this tragedy, Sterling has been banned from attending any NBA game, and the commissioner is encouraging the remainder of the NBA owners to force sterling to sell his team.
This is being cheered by many, but is it really a good thing? Not everyone agrees on this. In fact the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban who is a bit of a media darling called the issue a slippery slope.
“Again, there’s no excuse for his positions. There’s no excuse for what he said. There’s no excuse for anybody to support racism. There’s no place for it in our league, but there’s a very, very, very slippery slope.” – Mark Cuban
So why is this a slippery Slope? Well because we live in America. We have a constitution that governs our nation. The NBA has a constitution that governs its operation. Both constitutions make no room for this decision. The US constitution guarantees the first amendment right of free speech. The NBA constitution says the only reason the commissioner can force an owner out is if he is gambling on the teams.
What does the decision of NBA Comissioner Andy Silver mean? It changes the system and now means that if you say something we do not like we can strong arm you out. This is the same attitude many had to chic-fil-a last year when Owner Dan Cathy made comments regarding his personal stance on homosexuality. There was a huge backlash on both sides. Many calling for chi-fil-a to be banned, and many waving the banner of free speech.
In the end, no matter what a person’s personal beliefs if they are a business owner the business is separate from their personal life. It doesn’t matter if a person is black, white, gay, straight, polygamist, man, or woman. A business is not the person who owns it. Further, to force someone out of their business because you do not agree with them is ludicrous.
The comments by Sterling were in a private conversation that was leaked to media. Do you want you job to hinge on things you say in private to your girlfriend? Probably not. Would you like to lose your job because you told your wife something that wasn’t politically correct?
Where does this end? What if the statement had been anti-muslim, anti-gay, anti-christian? Would there have been the same backlash? Should we be able to take your property (The Clippers organization is legally property) if you say something that we do not like?
The issue is that many right now are being moved by emotion and therefore are reacting quickly and harshly. When we do this we often make hasty decisions that do not think on the future implications of our choices. Remember that people are often dumb and often say dumb things, but as Cuban is quick to remind us,
“In this country, people are allowed to be morons, they’re allowed to be stupid. They’re allowed to think idiotic thoughts.” – Mark Cuban
While any racism is wrong and abhorrant, it is still America. This is why the KKK is free to hold rallies, and Westboro Baptist is free to protest everything. Because America is founded upon the fundamental position of free speech. We need to be careful to seperate person feelings, and personal statements from corporate decisions, and company positions.
I am not affiliated with the Clippers, I am not even a fan (Though Blake Griffin Dunks are fun to watch) Heck, to be honest I have watches almost no NBA this year. So when I make statements it is not about a team, not about fandom, and not about any players. Its about what this ind of action represents and what it can lead to.
In the ned, my thoughts do not matter in any sense. No one from the NBA, Clippers, ESPN, or anything remotely close is likely to quote me, or comment to me, or even read this. However it is an important discussin that we need to have. Where does personal liberty cross into corporate resposibility? When are the personal beliefs of a person equal to the positions of a business?
What do you think? Did Andy Silver make the right call? Should the NBA force Sterling out? What do you think? share in the comments section.