In the news this week is the owner of the Clippers professional basketball team making disturbing, inappropriate and distasteful racial remarks. There is no excuse for what he said and no defending his thoughts and opinions as healthy. Having said all of that, I want to talk about where our outrage should be in all of this, and other situations like this.
First of all, the conversations in question were recorded at his request in confidence. This was a personal conversation. In our moral outrage, let’s not pass over that the privacy of the people involved was violated. We should be outraged over this. Let’s not forget that our freedom to speech, especially in conversation, hinges upon the freedom of others to say things that we find distasteful. A man is going to be punished in some measure for having a private conversation. We should be outraged over this. Listen or read the entire conversation. If you do, you will find that is mistress, now most likely ex, cajoles him into saying these things. He is baited and spun around to the point where he was bound to say something incriminating. We should be outraged that he has a mistress and further outraged that we have fostered a society where, for whatever reason, this sort of revenge tactic on her part is allowable and even celebrated. For years, the man has been doing what he could to deny African American and Latino families from receiving housing to the point where the justice department got involved. We should be outraged that there was not any outrage over all of this. The news media has made this a massive story and told us to be upset. We should be outraged that we are so easily led.
I want to finish up with a couple paragraphs from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the subject:
“Make no mistake: Donald Sterling is the villain of this story. But he’s just a handmaiden to the bigger evil. In our quest for social justice, we shouldn’t lose sight that racism is the true enemy. He’s just another jerk with more money than brains.
So, if we’re all going to be outraged, let’s be outraged that we weren’t more outraged when his racism was first evident. Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars.”
Let’s be outraged, but let’s be certain it is for the right reasons.