NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has received universal praise for his decision to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in the wake of his taped racist remarks. Universal praise from everyone, that is, except for our own Bill Zeiser who objects to the suppression of free speech in this country.
While I respect Bill’s dissent, I cannot agree with it. As I noted last night, Sterling is an owner in an industry where 76% of his primary employees are African-American. With the revelation of these tapes, Sterling’s comments that African-Americans were unwelcome in his company and that of his girlfriend hit a raw nerve. Consequently, his position simply became untenable. Indeed, NBA players were willing to walk off the job if Sterling wasn’t sufficiently punished.
Now Bill does object to the surreptitious nature of the revelations. Bill asks, “Can everyone calling for his beheading honestly say that they would be comfortable with their least proud private moments being released to the public without their consent?” He goes on to argue, “The views Sterling expressed were odious, to be sure, but I’d wager that we’ve all said and done odious things behind closed doors.”
Kind of like John Kerry did the other way when he said Israel could become an Apartheid regime. Now one might argue that a conversation with one’s mistress behind closed doors and a conversation with the Trilateral Commission is a different set of circumstances. Well, they are and they aren’t. They are different for the obvious reasons. But they are not different in these two respects. Sterling and Kerry’s remarks were a) not intended for public consumption and b) recorded without their knowledge.
Yet I don’t see Bill defending Kerry’s First Amendment rights. Nor for that matter are Senator Ted Cruz, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Charles Krauthammer, who are all calling for Kerry’s resignation as Secretary of State. Are Cruz, Bachmann, and Krauthammer telling free speech to drop dead? Not at all. What all three of them are arguing that Kerry’s position in the Obama Administration is every bit as untenable as Sterling’s position is within the NBA.