NBA's Sterling Ruling Is a Blow to Freedom

Monday, 05 May 2014 11:04 AM

By Chris Freind

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He grabbed his boss and violently choked him. After being restrained, the man attacked his victim again, threatening his life, just the latest in a string of serious incidents involving the employee.
 
However, for this violent offender, there was no jail time.
 
Incomprehensibly, he wasn’t even fired, and for good reason: He played in that bastion of hypocrisy, the NBA.
 
Latrell Sprewell received a suspension and fine, with the NBA sending the message that a player physically attacking his coach will merely get slapped on the fingers. Yet Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, gets banned from the NBA for life, fined millions, and may be forced to sell his team for making (inappropriate) comments during a private conversation, which, if Sterling didn’t give his consent, was illegally recorded.
 
The NBA has shown immense hypocrisy, allowing criminal acts but banning legal, though repugnant, activity. Welcome to Amerika.
 
Ironically, race relations will take a hit because of the NBA’s actions.
 
In the most elegant parlance, Donald Sterling is a scumbag. He has an unsavory past, possessing what clearly seems a discriminatory mindset. As a real estate mogul, he received a $2.75 million fine for racial discrimination in renting, and could even have faced criminal charges. But harboring racist tendencies, especially in private, isn’t a crime.
 
Unfathomably, the NBA claimed it had no real knowledge of Sterling’s past, so it never addressed those issues. Going from zero to all-the-way smacks of unfairness, especially since Sterling didn’t make his comments in public.
 
The specter of voluntarily giving up privacy rights is terrifying, for if there truly is “no more privacy,” America’s uniqueness is gone. Respect for freedom of speech and privacy rights, even for the most reviled, has set America apart. If those things dissipate, the world’s last beacon will be extinguished. And we become worse than Saudi Arabia and Russia, because we had greatness but voluntarily gave it away, whereas those places were always disdainful of individual rights.
 
Where does it end? If an NBA owner or player laughs at an ethnic joke, or doesn’t turn the perpetrator in, will he receive a lifetime ban? Will political beliefs (supporting someone another deems “racist”) now be censored? Will terms like “Muslim terrorist” be inappropriate? Will everything related to race and ethnicity be sanitized? Sure seems that way.
 
Most important, does an “offending” player or owner, who happens to be a particular color, get a free pass? If so, the NBA, and those cheering Sterling’s ban, should have the guts to admit such a double standard.
 
It’s great for leaders to chastise Sterling, stating that bigotry won’t be tolerated. But how many are consistent? How many cut off ties to Jesse Jackson when he disparaged Jews by calling them “Hymies” and referring to New York City as “Hymietown,” or the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the president’s pastor, after his virulent racist and anti-American outbursts? Not many. Both still operate free of protest and condemnation.
 
And what of the “experts” who think using the “N” word during NBA games (as it often is) doesn’t merit sanction by the League? “The ‘N’ word is just second nature and habit for some of them,” one said.
 
In other words, certain language should be tolerated for a particular group of people.
 
Sorry. Wrong. That apologist mentality is warped. Racism is racism. You can’t excuse and justify it in some cases, but not others. Doing so will never move society ahead.
 
The gulf between races widens when leaders espouse blatant hypocrisy, picking and choosing which racist comments (and by whom they are said) to criticize. Selective condemnation only builds a powder keg of resentment.
 
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is urging NBA owners to force Sterling to sell. Two points:
  • Every owner voting against Sterling should personally put up a share of the team’s $575 million value, and, upon buying it, donate proceeds to nonprofit organizations fighting racism (in all forms). Additionally, they should then sell the team to the highest bidder, with the proceeds again going to charity. But of course, they won’t do that.
  • Assuming Sterling legally fights a mandate to sell, the NBA will almost certainly settle. Sterling’s lawyers will, during discovery, uncover many skeletons of hypocritical owners. They should be mindful of the proverb, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
This issue is bigger than the NBA. It is about how we view each other as Americans, as people. It is about how solutions can only be realized if all are treated equally, with special privilege for none. It’s time to stop seeing things in black and white, and start living in a color-blind society, since we are all members of the only “race” that matters: the human race.
 
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
 
 
 
 

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