Posts Tagged thought policing

The Thought Police

Donald Sterling is a racist scumbag and worthless human being. He is a white supremacist who has been hating on, harassing, bullying and discriminating against black people all his life and it is doubtful that anything is going to change about his behavior anytime soon, despite his half-assed, desperate, insincere “apology” about the things he had said to his girlfriend in a private conversation over the phone about black people.

It is entities like him that are part of the problem and if he is going to lose a tiny piece of a kingdom that he undoubtedly built at the backs of those he hates, harasses, bullies and discriminates against as a result of his gross rank racism, I will not lose any sleep over it.

That said, I completely and fully support Donald Sterling’s right to be able to say whatever he wants to anyone in a private conversation without fear of persecution and without losing his business, pay fines or be subject to similar reprimands. And I do so, not because I particularly care about Donald Sterling or the Donald Sterlings of the world (if you ask me, the only good one percenter is one behind bars) but because by upholding Sterling’s right to say whatever he wants in a private conversation without having to pay for it professionally, I uphold my own right to do the same.

I admit, it’s a difficult point to make given the collective outrage that sprung up once Sterling’s comments were broadcast.

But that is hardly the point, is it? Because what I am trying to get at is that people should be able to think what they want and say what they want in private conversations, without the fear of losing their business and their jobs.

We cannot, and should not, go after people for their privately held beliefs, especially if those beliefs are shared in private conversations with partners, spouses, friends or even on Facebook.

To be clear, this has nothing to do with the First Amendment. The First Amendment merely protects a person’s right to free speech without government interjection and persecution. Since the federal government did not go after Sterling after his remarks to his girlfriend were published, this is not a First Amendment issue here, and it is rather bothersome that people who do defend Sterling’s right to say what he wants erroneously use the First Amendment and “free speech” clause to make the point.

What this is, however, is a matter of living in a society in which people are able to express their personal thoughts to those around them without the fear that doing so may cost them a job, a promotion or their business.

Donald Sterling’s private words (just as your private words, and my private words and John Doe’s private words) should have remained private – even after they were published.

He was not talking to anyone in HR demanding, and thus in a business capacity,  that they not hire any more blacks or recruit any more black players for the Clippers; he was not having a conversation about his sentiments about black people in a business capacity; on the contrary,  he was talking to his partner over the phone about his racist views on blacks.

Sterling should have the right and freedom to think what he wants and say what he wants in private without fearing that once his thoughts are public, he may lose his business or have to pay a substantial fine for holding those thoughts. it is ridiculous.

Going after Sterling for thinking that blacks are less than sets a terrible precedent and tomorrow, in a not so cut-and -dry case, someone may use the same rationale to go after someone who supports Socialism, or atheism, or after someone who works in a Conservative firm but supports gay rights.

Do not think for one second that doing what was done to Sterling is going to be merely confined to the “bad guys.”

Liberty in America is a transactional experience. In affirming the right of a man to express an opinion in the privacy of his own bedroom (however obscene that opinion may be ) I affirm my right to express my opinion in the privacy of my home.

In affirming the rights of bigots to freely express themselves in any venue, I enhance my own freedom to oppose policies indifferent to popularity without fear of retribution.

It is a two way street.

In condemning the freedom of one man you condemn the freedom of all.

We must live in a country that punishes based on people’s actions, not based on their opinions or thoughts that they express to partners, spouses, friends and family in private conversation.

Simply because a man holds a view that 98% of Americans don’t like and it leads to declining revenue does not justify what the NBA did. By this logic, an owner who tells his wife in the privacy of his own bedroom that he supports the Communist party, can then be banned by the game due to capitalist outrage.

The irony here, of course, is that Donald Sterling was, in action, discriminating against blacks and racial minorities in his housing communities for decades and no one cared, not even these very black Clippers players who are now so deeply offended.

In response to the 2003 suit, one of his property supervisors testified that Sterling said all blacks “smell” and are “not clean,” that he wanted to “get them out” of his properties to preserve his image, and that he harassed tenants and refused to make repairs until they were forced to leave, according to depositions obtained by ESPN The Magazine

Gross and blatant housing discrimination is Sterling’s biggest offense and it was documented, even with the Department of Justice that sued him (and no one can tell me that the honorable NBA and Clippers players did not know about it).  Yet,  it took insulting and alienating a few wealthy athletes and sponsors during a private conversation to finally give this piece of shit what he deserves. 

Something is upside down here. Fining Sterling and pressuring him to sell his business because of what he said in a private conversation is going entirely too far.

I condemn this Clippers owner because he violates everything I have worked for and believe in but I defend his rights of expression just as ardently as they were my own.

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