It has been said that it takes an entire generation to earn a reputation, yet it takes 30 seconds to lose one.

The embattled NBA owner of the LA Clippers, Donald Sterling, is up to his eyeballs in controversy stemming from some comments he made to his ex-girlfriend in a taped private conversation in September of 2013.

It is interesting to see our society grapple with this explosive issue. 

Do individuals have any privacy concerning their own thoughts?

Does society have the right to take away your worldly possessions and livelihood if your views or preferences are against a certain race of people? 

The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, in an impulsive reaction, fined Sterling $2.5 million and banned him from the league for life.

Was that the only option? 

I think there are some people who would like to impose the death penalty.

Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, was the only level-headed person to comment:

“If it’s about racism and we’re ready to kick people out of the league, OK. Then what about homophobia? What about somebody who doesn’t like a particular religion? What about somebody who’s anti-Semitic? What about a xenophobe? In this country, people are allowed to be morons.”

Mr. Sterling pledged $3 million for kidney research to UCLA, and because of his distasteful comments the university has decided to return the money.

Everyone can agree that we all need to love one another, yet there can be no law or regulation that can change a person’s heart.

We live in free and open society that allows contrarian speech.

Once again, political correctness is shaping norms and customs that include penalties for failing to adhere to those set standards.

The questions that each of us should ask ourselves are, “Does the penalty truly fit the crime?” and “Are there times in our lives when we are in an emotionally strained situation and make impulsive comments that may not represent our core values?”

If so, should those acts determine whether we can live and work in our communities?

What are the rules of privacy for individuals to be able to exercise their own free thoughts regardless of their content?

Whatever happened to the concept of forgiveness, grace and restitution?

Let’s subscribe to the words of the famous civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.: “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” 

Granted Mr. Sterling is a flawed and jagged man, yet his case set a precedent for others who may find themselves in a similar situation. 

In the future, could business owners lose their operation because of a racial slur?

Punishment should be rendered on the physical act, not on the thoughts and words of the potential offender. 

I look forward to a time when our culture can be tolerant of all people, even those people who don’t share our views, and that we can influence those individuals not by destroying them but by showing them, through our actions, a better way. 

James M. Rankin lives in Jamaica Beach.

(27) comments

Gary Miller

“Does the penalty truly fit the crime?”
Was there a crime? Political correctness was violated but was any law broken?
If racism was illegal the KKK and NAACP couldn't exist.
Sterling's problem is he signed a contract with the NBA that endangers his membership in the NBA partnership.
The NBA has the problem that Sterling only owns half his franchize.
If the other owner refuses to sell what then?

George Croix

Sterling made an ass of himself in private.
His 'girlfriend' broke the California law requiring two-party consent by revealing the private comments.
Once made public, a lot of other people made comments just as bad, or worse.
And the usual suspect opportunists piled on with calls for changes in areas not even related to basketball, or to the comments.
Without excusing anything, I note what a strange nation we've become.
We say it's nobody's business what they do in the privacy of their own homes, then want to punish people for what they say in private.
We iimediately assume that such comments are reflective of a particular political Party, until we find that in fact the commentor is a member of another one...oops...
We watch some of the responses made to the idiot Sterling's words, and unless one is living in an alterante universe, must note that, in large measure, they are even worse, and more divisive.
I think many of the players, curent and former, showed a lot of class in their remarks, and are to be commended.
I think many others were looking for a camera to get in front of, and showed simply a portion of themselves that rhymes with class.
If we are to say that we cannot have such speach in America, then that would, and should, include ALL of America.
Too harsh punishment?
The only crime committed was by the girlfriend.
A noted civil rights organization has looked the other way for years while awarding Sterling for his financial contributions to CR initiatives, and only backed off another award about to be given by them to him when the 'news' became much more openly known.
Are the players on the team playing for the game and the salary, or for the owner of the team, and is it even possible that they knew nothing about his history of accusations and settlement of discriminatory issues.
As Hillary Clinton said about 4 dead Americans, what difference does it make now.
A billionaire is now a pariah because of what he said in private.
A nation is yet again arguing with each other over what that ONE man said.
A sport has been yet again turned into a political theater.
The nation's grievance hucksters are out in full dress making absurd associations with the rest of the nation.
It has now been decided that saying something bad, even in private, is reason to be forced, or try to, to divest yourself of your property, as punishment for being found guilty in the clourt of public opinion.
Seems like to me it would have been far better to let people vote with their money, and stop patronizing events or businesses owned by someone who's comments you don't like - just like the Church's Chicken protestors. Players are grown men, and could decide for themselves whether the comments were bad enough, and quit or stay accordingly.
Can anyone think of any other business where the owner made charged comments, of any kind, racial or otherwise, and was ordered to sell it?
VERY slippery slope, indeed... but then, we are 'evolving' into a place where we just don't seem to care about long term consequences as long as today's actions make us feel better...

Kevin Lang

gecroix, I would suspect that Taco Bell would expel one of its franchisees should that franchisee turn out to be tainted merchandise, too.

Allegedly, Sterling knew he was being recorded. Allegedly, he knew he was in the middle of legal issues either with the parties to the conversation, or people close to those parties. From what I understand, there were 3 people in that room, and as far as I know, both Sterling and Stiviano assert that they didn't release the conversation.

If Sterling had kept his mouth shut, he could have continued merrily with his head up his rear, and it would have continued to attract little if any attention. However, once one gets outed as not only having their head up their rear, but also with their foot in their mouth, that's a visual spectacle that people won't let go of.

Overall, I tend to think that an ingredient in the punishment is that he doesn't appear to be apologetic or remorseful.

Yes, someone in that room, or someone with access to the recording afterward, did violate trust. However, how much should one trust someone that is recording your conversation? But, once the recording got out, and he admitted it was him, it damages his credibility in an industry that is dominated by type of people he appears to disdain--bad for marketing--and attracts lots of fans that fit the same mold--also bad for marketing.

The party line, I'm sure, is that he's being ousted for his overt racist views. In reality, though, it appears that he's being ousted, at least in significant part, for being bad for marketing.

Does this fit the "crime"? It doesn't matter what we think. It only matters what his 29 co-owners think. If it's a bad decision, the Clippers and those 29 other franchises will be the ones most directly impacted.

George Croix

IF bullfrogs had wings, etc.
Using this model, one guy in Pennsylvania says somethign bad, and everyone in a similar capacity coast to coast gets hurt?
THAT says a lot more about the level of twitness to which too many people have devolved, than it does about the bad actors.
Again, there's no justification for Sterling.
But, I wonder how we figure there's any justification for the overreaction to it...
Why, because it makes us feel better, of course...
Next week, Al Sharpton will be forced to dump his National Action Network, because of his public statements against other races.
Hold your breath...
The population is rapidly becoming 330 million people with about 445 million faces...and growing...[wink]

Kevin Lang

Is it overreaction? Are we in position to judge that for everyone? The NBA will neither rise nor fall due to whether any individual is allowed to own one of their teams. Once this blows over and the new ownership is in place, Donald Sterling will become a mere blip in the memories of NBA fans, and an even smaller blip everywhere else.


Mr. James Rankin wrote:
"Everyone can agree that we all need to love one another, yet there can be no law or regulation that can change a person’s heart." Mr. Rankin also said this:
"I look forward to a time when our culture can be tolerant of all people, even those people who don’t share our views, and that we can influence those individuals not by destroying them but by showing them, through our actions, a better way."
You are right on both counts Mr. Rankin, but don't expect everyone to line up and say you are. The reason I say that is because of the same reason we are having problems out of Mr. Sterling now! Not everybody is going our way!
You mentioned this is a free country, well yes, but not all countries exists in a free society! With God we all have a choice to embrace his ways and word or not,...this is the reason we have the alternative call HELL ...just sitting and waiting on more clients!
What I'm saying is this,...America is not a UTOPIA SOCIETY,...and nobody is going to make it one anytime soon,...outside of the millennium when Christ Himself will return to rule for a thousand years, on this earth, and the enemy, the deceiving spirit who speaks to a man's soul/flesh.....urging him to rebel, to be evil, and to do wrong will be restrained doing that time.
I'm preaching to the choir, because you sound like you already know what I'm talking about! I congratulate you too,..because it is easy to defeat and overcome a person with Mr. Sterling's attitude and disposition, when you are armed with the love of GOD, and the POWER of his might! If people like Mr.Sterling was all I had to worry about, man I'd be happy as stink on a pole cat! ( East Texas for skunk ).
One of the thing gecroix said was so true,...and makes one wonder,...why was the NAACP prepped to give him a lifetime achievement award until this incident came out, when it was well known that this man held and harbored racist views? Come on now!! This guy has been sued for many of his actions by others and they were well known to the public, and THEY were poised to give him a LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD?
I think what driving the NBA now is the potential loss of sponsorships and boycotts etc.etc, and lets face it, that can be very detrimental and damaging to the NBA. I personally think the man ought to be able to keep his team even though he is a fool and a clown! I don't think he will continue to make much money, but that is beside the point.
I also believe several of his players knew in advance what kind of man Mr. Sterling was, and the agreed to play for him anyway!( money ) So a very disturbing point here is that as long as a measure of secrecy shrouded the character of Mr. Sterling, what he stood for was tolerated! However, when the cover was JERKED from over the darkness and light shined in,..."ALL HELL HAS BROKEN LOOSE!"
One thing of note,.. I try to live by, and so far have.. is this, "I WILL NOT LET NO MAN PULL ME DOWN SO LOW AS TO MAKE ME HATE HIM!"
Dr. King said that, and another one of his quotes which I like is this one:
"We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools!"
Amazing Saving Grace, has gotten Ole JBG this far, and I figure, it is highly capable of taking him on to the house! I'm to busy doing what Matthew 25:35-40 says to lower myself to the level of a fool, or to seek vengeance against him because vengeance is not mine to take. ( Matthew 25:35-40: )
35) "For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36) "naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me." 37) “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?" 38) "And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39) When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? 40) “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me."
Lastly, we cannot legislate morality, integrity, nor character! If we could we would have no need of the police. The only thing which can pierce a man's heart and cause a cold blooded murder, a hard core pedophile, or an old ignorant racist to change is the Word of God, partnering with the conviction of the Holy Spirit piercing the heart of the individual, cutting asunder between the soul and the spirit in order to transform and transmogrify the mind, changing the way a man thinks because: ( ..AS A MAN THINKETH IN HIS HEART,..SO IS HE..! (Proverbs 23:7)
I know an admitted ex Skinhead racist, who if he sees me today, I could not get away from him! He want to carry me to lunch, buy my dinner, talk about how good GOD has been to him and his family! That is how it works! Take Sterling's team, you might even take his money,...but without a transformation,...he will still be a fool! Poor, "PO" or rich, a fool is still a fool. The Word says because he says in his heart, there is no GOD! ( Psalms 14:1 ).

Mick Phalen

Sterling was just a horny, 80 year old, billionaire bigot who bought "toys".

He bought his way into the inner circles. Live the LA lifestyle- hide your bigotry with a basketball team and "citizen of the year awards" from the NAACP. (Some people focused only on the billionaire part.)

Sterling is a scumbag, but so are those he bought. Sooner they are all a fading memory, the better.

Carlos Ponce

Joe Biden, Harry Reid, and John F. Kerry have said worst in public and Sterling said his in what he thought was the privacy of his own home! George Orwell wrote this would happen in his book 1984. The walls have ears and so do cell phones so beware. Unfortunately it is still permissible to spew hatred towards Christians and Right wing Conservatives.

Kevin Lang

And it's still permissible to blow things out of proportion.

Just because politicians (and don't just single out Democrats, because we both know they all do it) speak disrespectfully when trying to score points, doesn't mean that we shouldn't take others to task. We need to take the politicians to task, but every time someone does, a whole bunch of operatives jump to their defense.

Neither the government nor any of its spies bugged Sterling's home. He's not charged with a single local, state, or federal crime. Nothing at all like 1984. It's just someone in power with a poor choice of confidants saying outrageously stupid stuff.

Carlos Ponce

Just remember that when your cell phone conversations are being monitored by Big Brother AKA the Obama administration. The Obama administration has been spying on all Verizon phone customers by surveilling their phone usage on a daily basis for the last several years.

Kevin Lang

Are you inferring that it was the NSA that leaked that recorded conversation?

Victor Krc

If the government can monitor my Verizon cell phone then why don't they shut down those #$*&@ robo calls that harass me almost every day? They could really score some political points with that move!

Carlos Ponce

The original implication comes from the book 1984, that is because of "political correctness" your friends, family, or government may monitor your every action and conversation and turn you in. In the book a man was proud that his own son had turned him in for improper thinking. It wasn't just the government that was spying on everyone.The NSA is holding back now but who's to say what they have on you and me. One day we'll know and by that time it will be too late. What we thought was free speech and actions will one day be determined "hate". Just ask Brendan Eich.

Victor Krc

My thought is to follow the money. Apparently Sterling's bigotry was well known for a number of years, but his money was able to buy him a pass, even from the NAACP. Somebody decided to "out" him to force the sale of the Clippers. I am inclined to think that whoever the next owner of the Clippers will be the one who acted in collusion with Sterling's "significant other" to bring this about. Money talks, BS walks.[wink]

Kevin Lang

I don't think it was set up as a push to sell the Clippers. The Clippers are a growing investment. There are certainly people that want a piece of his pie. How much of a part of this Stiviano or Sterling's wife, or someone else that he's crossed--and I'm sure there are lots of those--that want big paychecks from him. Selling the Clippers would take a lot of gold off the gravy train.

Mick Phalen

George Orwell missed his vision of the future by 30 years .... The book (and Animal Farm) should be required reading in all high schools / colleges.

Victor Krc

carlosponce, I am sure I share most of your values and concerns. However, I am inclined to put more trust in the oversight responsibilities of congress - at least in the national security area. My point is that we have an entrenched two - party system in this country with each party more than anxious to score political points against the other. Both parties share oversight responsibility over the NSA. NSA surveillance did not start in the Obama administration and I am of the belief that further large - scale terrorist attacks did not occur because of NSA and other intelligence services activity during the Bush and Obama administrations.. If another large - scale terrorist attack had taken place you can bet there would have been a lot of upset folks banging on about the failure of our intelligence services to connect the dots, etc. The question for debate is whether or not the benefit of increased national security is worth some loss of privacy, and if so, how much are we willing to pay.

Carlos Ponce

The difference is that the NSA under the Bush administration scrutinized certain people with just cause for phone surveillance and under judicial review and approval. The current administration has extended the subversive label to include Catholics, Fundamentalist Protestants, American military veterans, and TEA Party members for phone surveillance all without a judge's approval.

Kevin Lang

The NSA has broadened the scope of data collection. Not because of the Obama Administration, but because Big Data technology has allowed them to do so now. In order to avoid missing a pattern that could identify terrorism in less expected places, the collect broad ranges of phone calls.

So far, we know what Snowden says. We don't know that everything he said is factual. The origin and destination phone number is something they have admitted to capturing. They have so far denied actually monitoring the content of phone calls of normal, unsuspected, citizens.

The GOP would probably like to know if either of us is considering a same-sex marriage. The Dems might want to know if either of us actively hates blacks or other minorities. The GOP would like to know if you're a Christian Conservative so they can pry money from you. That, however, is all information that the political parties want to know without the NSA getting it first.

When you get right down to it, everyone wants to scream about lack of privacy, except when it denies them the access to information they want to have on you. If you really want to understand how the parties value privacy, change look closely at the types of political phone calls and mailings you get. Unless someone in your household is a Democrat, I'll bet you never get any contacts from them. However, if you vote in a Democratic primary, you can bet you'll turn on a spigot of Democrat contacts. Why does that happen? Because the candidates have ensured that they will know who the voters are that participated in the party primaries. Yep, the parties are THAT concerned about our privacy.

Carlos Ponce

The NSA has but the NSA shouldn't- not without just cause and not without judicial approval. When are we going to take a lesson from the Israelis and only target people who meet certain criteria while the TSA targets everyone, even little children. If the local police used the same "big net approach" that NSA and TSA use then every car would be pulled over, every driver and passenger searched. We have given up too much freedom. "Die Gedanken sind frei"
And since same sex marriages are not permitted in Texas, your point about the GOP is moot.

Kevin Lang

As for same sex marriage, I'm speaking in broad terms. Think national level.

The NSA behavior is what was chartered through passage of the Patriot Act. Lots of people raised the red flags back in 2001/2002 when the act was being drafted. Generally, we decided that a little invasion of privacy was worth a perceived improvement in security. We were fine as long as it was "someone else's" privacy being violated. Now, we want to gripe because we think it's OUR privacy being violated.

We agreed to be taken for a ride to paradise. Now, we're complaining because we're finding that the destination doesn't appear to be anywhere near Disney World. Anytime we want to quit just complaining, I'm sure that we can make our government fix it. I don't think that's going to happen, though, as long as we're happy to believe that this is just one party's doing, and only one party is capable or even willing to fix it.

Victor Krc

OK, all of our rights as citizens are not absolute and unbounded, they are limited so as not to compromise the common good or the rights of minorities. We have free speech, but not the right to shout FIRE in a crowded theater. We have the right to assemble, but not as a mob. The press is free, but not to engage in witch - hunts or to incite physical violence. We have the right to bear arms, but not to publicly wave them around in a threatening manner. The right to privacy is not an enumerated right in our Constitution, but it nevertheless has become part of our unwritten Constitution, and in my opinion rightly so. But where are its limits, if any?

My question is, is the right to privacy absolute and unbounded, or are there limits to that right necessary for the security of the nation just as there are limits to the enumerated rights we enjoy as citizens of the United States?

George Croix

I don't see how Sterling's case is a right to privacy issue at the Constitutional level.
The State of California requires all parties on a recording to give consent to make same public.
Sterling obviously did not give consent, so his 'girlfriend' broke California law in releasing the recording. Sterling only had his privacy violated when an existing law was violated.
It doesn't appear that anyone cares about that, so far...

Victor Krc

gecroix, I agree with what you said. I apologize for my trying to open up this forum to the larger questions regarding privacy rights. I had stopped thinking about Sterling's case in particular a few posts ago.

I still believe my earlier post where I said to follow the money. This was a setup from the gitgo. I have absolutely zero sympathy for Sterling, but I believe this whole affair was set up to force the sale of the Clippers.

There does appear to be very selective indignation in this stupid affair, as you say.

George Croix

1) No apology necessary. These forums are absolutely a free-style event. If not an outright free-for-all...
2) I suspect that you are correct. It sure as heck isn't primarily about hurt feelings and stupid comments, or half the nation would be hung from a nail on the wall until their attitude improved at any given time. This is a classic case of the cure being worse than the disease.
3) VERY selective, for sure....
Sterling's a jerk.
He's got a lot of company from all points of the compass...

Kevin Lang

No matter the setup, Sterling would have fouled up the plan if he'd only spoken the way years of business experience should have taught him.

Lars Faltskog

Emperical observation would likely conclude that it scares the heebiejeebies of all the prejudicial folks who think "it's OK" to spew hateful words, even if you are at home in your underwear.

Well, it seems like Old Man Sterling should have known that his trophy spouse would act like a stool pidgeon so that she could instantly curry public recognition. It's not like this woman was Sterling's tried and true life-partner spouse of 50-plus years. I know if I were hanging around an old famous person and had a tape recorder, I'd go out and tell everyone what the old fool had said.

So, the millionaire loses a team he "owned". I know he's not worried about what we have down here on the island. Who knows, in his last few years of life he might become philanthropic and help Oprah with the schoolgirls in Africa.

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