The racial remarks by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling — no matter how despicable — were made in a private phone conversation, and the fact that he is being punished for them is chilling to free speech, says Michael Meyers, president of the New York Civil Rights Coalition.
"The majority of us believe that free speech and privacy are fundamental values of America and we should be able to say anything we want without being punished," Meyers told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"In terms of free speech . . . in the privacy of one's home . . . it's opening the door to a slippery slope."
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In a private phone conversation leaked to gossip website TMZ.com, Sterling is heard telling his girlfriend she should not bring black guests to Clippers games. It is unclear who taped and released the audio.
As a result, the National Basketball Association banned Sterling from the sport for life and fined him $2.5 million
"Your private thoughts, your most personal thoughts, your bedroom conversation, this is worse than a slippery slope. This is a trap door, especially for minorities," Meyers said.
"Especially for blacks who talk all the time, for example, about loving black, being black, staying with blacks, sticking with black, and that is racism, too, but nobody is going to come after them."
Meyers also said that anybody's comments can be taken out of context at any time.
"If you can be banned for life for racist comments, you can be banned for life for homophobic comments," he said.
"Everybody doesn't agree about same-sex marriage, everybody doesn't agree that everybody is equal — but that's your personal point of view.
"I believe everybody's equal, but that's my personal point of view, we can't have . . . free speech for me and not thee."
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