The Sterling Precedent
This morning I awoke with an uneasy feeling about the Donald Sterling matter.
Not necessarily because I think Sterling got a raw deal here. Sterling is an 80-year old slumlord who just a few years ago settled a housing discrimination lawsuit with the federal government originally filed by the George W. Bush Administration. He promised the city of Los Angeles a homeless shelter in 2006 that has still never been built. He married the mother of his three children in 1955 and then left her for his 29-year old girlfriend. Over the course of four decades he’s overseen perhaps the worst and most embarrassing franchise in all of professional sports.
But as Ben Shapiro points out over at Breitbart News, Sterling is hardly the NBA’s lone villain. Shapiro details NBA figures who have killed people, strangled people, attacked NBA customers in the stands during games, pressured their girlfriends to murder their own children, and pointed a gun at their fellow player—yet none of them received lifetime bans from the NBA. Heck, according to Shapiro it appears Sterling isn’t even the NBA’s lone racist owner.
Now, I know why the NBA did what it did here. It’s a business, and its brand was being tarred and feathered ever since these controversial recordings of Sterling were released by TMZ. Not to mention I believe a private business has a right to decide who it wants to do business with and associate with
Yet herein lies why I am uneasy about all of this.
I have been working and interacting in national media for several years now, including many places considered “mainstream” or “liberal” media. So I have a pretty good idea how these things work, who these people are, and what they think. And that’s exactly what has me concerned.
Sterling was a slumlord and there was no external pressure brought to bear on the NBA to get rid of him. That’s something that truly ruins people’s lives, especially people far less fortunate than either Sterling or any active member of the NBA, yet nobody said anything.
Zip. Zilch. Nada.
In fact, most of us didn’t even know about this until the current controversy surfaced.
But the minute Sterling says some stupid and offensive stuff (to his fellow adulterer no less), suddenly now words of discrimination stings more than actual discrimination does. Maybe it’s just me, and I just can’t possibly understand as a suburban white guy that typically votes Republican, but I kind of think there’s something wrong with that.
Shouldn’t actions speak louder than words? Whatever happened to “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?”
I understand the black players on the Clippers being gravely offended by what this guy had to say in the context of the edited portions most people heard, but the day before the recordings came out did any of them protest working for a guy that settled a racial/ethnic discrimination lawsuit with the Feds? Did any of them protest the guy not following through on a promise to provide a homeless shelter? And since we’re talking about Los Angeles, it’s sadly a safe bet a good deal of those homeless Sterling didn’t follow through on assisting would’ve been minorities.
Those are things that actually change/ruin real people’s lives. Yet nobody of any skin color had a problem taking a seven-figure paycheck from Sterling until his racist pillow talk to his mistress was illegally taped.
Almost 95% of the public school kids in Detroit are black, yet only 8% of them are reading proficient. Where is the outrage for them? Where is the media vigil demanding justice on their behalf? Are any of those black kids better off today because we now have Sterling’s head on a platter? Will getting rid of Sterling do anything to reduce the almost 70% of black kids born out-of-wedlock, reduce a black unemployment rate that is twice the rate of whites, or stop even one of the 1800 black mothers from killing their unborn child today?
These are true injustices, yet the victims of these injustices have no voice. But when multi-millionaire Magic Johnson is offended by multi-millionaire Sterling, he is given a voice to air his grievances. Many of the same NBA players speaking out about Sterling have said nothing about these injustices.
I don’t care what color you are or where you came from. I believe we’re all made in the image of God, and that’s why I believe there’s something seriously wrong with that.
I also know several of those pursuing the Sterling prosecution to its culmination this week will use this precedent to go after Christians who disagree with homosexuality. For the same people who say it’s ok for the NBA to not want to do business with a racist believe it’s not okay for a Christian to refuse to take part in a ceremony honoring immorality. Now I don’t believe there’s a moral equivalence, and neither do many black Christians I know, but that’s not the point.
See, several of those currently driving the Sterling train do.
We already have a case of former ESPN broadcaster Craig James suing Fox because he believes he lost his sports casting job for saying homosexuality was immoral during a Texas U.S. Senate primary. Then there was CBS Sports’ hatchet job on Pastor Robert Jeffress in Dallas last year, which resulted in Tim Tebow canceling a speaking engagement at his church. How about those that wanted ESPN to fire Chris Broussard, who is black, for his on-air comments last year repeating what the Bible says about homosexuality?
Know this: for some here the Sterling matter isn’t about racism—it’s about “tolerance.” They are using this matter to purge those they deem lack the “tolerance” to have a public platform, without really defining what “tolerance” means. Based on how they apply their standard we can only assume being a slumlord isn’t intolerant, but sounding like a Neanderthal nitwit to your mistress is. Ever noticed that every time we turn onto “Tolerance Boulevard” it’s a one-way street?
The Bible says I am supposed to feel good when justice is done, but since I know several of those who pursued Sterling’s public execution here know almost nothing about true justice, I’m feeling uneasy instead.
Unfortunately, I’m anticipating the day several of these same people will lump me in with Sterling because I believe the Bible is true.
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