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Donald Sterling. When words speak louder than actions.

Image credit: Blake Griffin

Interesting dialogue about Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

As much as I’d like to see every bass-ackwards racist moron ousted from their organizational protected throne, it’s a slippery slope around freedom of speech to use personal recordings and comments to legally oust someone.

If Sterling counter sues and wins to keep the Clippers then unfortunately he wins. I lay bet however, he won’t get a big welcome home party by the Clippers and the NBA. 

Thank God the NBA made a forceful statement and threw Sterling out and are (trying) to take the Clippers away from him. (Why bigots-in-charge are allowed to continue is another issue altogether. Priests protected, systemic sheltering of the sacred establishment for fear of losing jobs and image). 

The NBA has a right to fine, suspend or boot anyone they find in opposition to their organization’s brand and so, best interest. Sterling’s actions have been discriminatory and in some instances he’s spewed blatant hate speech. Hate speech isn’t protected.

In 2009, writes The Daily Beast, former longtime Clippers executive Elgin Baylor sued Sterling for discrimination on the basis of age and race, during which Baylor alleged that Sterling wanted a team composed of “poor black boys from the South … playing for a white coach.” 

Wikipedia – Hate speech is, outside the law, speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of e.g. race, religion, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.[1][2]

In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by certain characteristics.[3][4][5][6] In some countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil lawcriminal law, or both. A website that uses hate speech is called a hate site. Most of these sites contain Internet forumsand news briefs that emphasize a particular viewpoint. There has been debate over how freedom of speech applies to the Internet.

Critics have argued that the term “hate speech” is a contemporary example of Newspeak, used to silence critics of social policies that have been poorly implemented in a rush to appear politically correct.[7][8][9]


Among many of Sterling’s racist gems he allegedly told his girlfriend the following…. “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you are associating with black people. Do you have to…..You can sleep with (black people). You can bring them in. You can do whatever you want. The little I ask is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games….. In your lousy … Instagrams you don’t have to have yourself walking with black people.”

So let me get this straight….

The black people who hang with the woman you’re cheating on your wife with make you a mint with their extraordinary hard work and talent but you don’t want your mistress to be seen with them at the games?  Go ahead and have sex with black people if you must but don’t get all “I’m with a black-man” and cozy up with them at my games. For Gods sake woman, use some common racist sense. What would the season ticket holders think?

I can hear the Sterling supporters but.. but… butting…. he gave a boat load of money to the NAACP so clearly he isn’t totally racist, just a tiny bit. We can forgive a little racist when big money is involved.

Sometimes words just speaker louder than actions. A big check isn’t restitution for racist comments. It’s like Sterling knows he can get away with “Listen to what I do, not to what I say.”

So, when does a point of view, even one you loathe, become unlawful hate speech?  It’s not cut and dry.

Say you’re against same-sex marriage (a view) but not against gay people. Or, maybe you hate gays and lesbians with every fiber (which then I just feel sorry for you) but you keep your views inside your private life and away from your company dealings. If you don’t use or incite hate speech in your organization (“fags, perverse people, an abomination”) then you’re not directly harming anyone (accept that your soul is dying a slow and inevitable death, but that’s just me).

Maybe you secretly think people of color are inferior.  But, you keep your mouth shut at corporate dealings until one day, you start slipping up. You get cocky because your plantation mentality gets a chuckle here and there over cigars and Manhattans at the club. Despite getting sued for say, housing discrimination, none of your fawning or fearful posse has the balls to tell you to keep your mouth shut or you’re out. You’re the owner, who tells off the owner?

Anyone who can afford to lose their job, in other words, a very small list.

Chick Fil-A’s owner Dan Cathy’s views against gay marriage aren’t mine but he has every right to say them. He’s not known for spewing hate speech against the gay and lesbian community.  If he discriminated hiring gays and lesbians (he doesn’t) then we have a legal issue. 

But say Mr. Cathy spewed hate speech about the LGBT community, “perverse, lazy workers, an abomination,” yada yada nonsense I’d EXPECT Mr. Cathy to be ousted by his Board even if he didn’t employ discriminatory practices because his views are hateful which I gather wouldn’t sit will well with the Chick Fil-A family brand (that is anti-gay marriage but not anti-gay, per se).  

But, if Mr. Sterling wins his lawsuit will he still want to belong to a club that for the most part doesn’t want him? Probably. Most larger than life egos don’t care about being liked, they care about being in charge.  



Laura G Owens

Writer. Blogger. Essayist. My focus is wellness, social commentary and personal essays that explore the messiness of being human. Our ambivalence. Our uncomfortable feelings that when revealed, shed shame and reveal our authentic selves.

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Site last updated March 14, 2024 @ 3:00 pm; This content last updated May 5, 2014 @ 5:25 pm

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