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Thoughts on Donald Sterling: In America, Jerks Have Rights Too

Donald Sterling

Freedom of speech and thought means protecting the right of people to say and think ignorant offensive things. 

If you want to tattoo a swastika on your forehead, you’re free to do that.

This leads to the case of one Donald Sterling, who made racist remarks in private while in an argument with his ex-mistress Maria Vanessa Stiviano — more than 50 years his younger.

It’s worth noting that Sterling is a loyal Democrat. The real racism in America resides in the Democrat Party.

The Ku Klux Klanis a Democrat organization. Opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came not from Republicans, but from Democrats — led by Senator Robert Byrd (a leader of the KKK, recruiter for the KKK). Byrd led a filibuster against the Civil Rights Act, personally speaking against the Act for 14 hours and 13 minutes on the Senate floor. He went on from there to become Senate Majority Leader for the Democrats. Byrd was President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate and continued to be a leading voice of the Democrat Party in the Senate (affectionately referred to as the “Lion of the Senate” by Democrats and the Media) until his death in 2010.

Byrd really was a racist. He really did hate blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Catholics, and the rest of the KKK’s enemies list. The KKK really was lynching blacks. Yet Byrd was revered by Democrats.

Whatever Sterling is guilty of, at least he’s never been a member of the KKK, like Senator Robert Byrd.

So why was Byrd revered by Democrats and the media up until 2010, but Sterling’s offense is considered unforgivable?

There’s some selective outrage here — something out of proportion, out of whack.

Is Sterling a racist? I don’t know. What he said certainly sounded racist. I won’t print his comments here because they are offensive.

In summary, what he told his ex-mistress over the phone was to stop bringing her black friends to LA Clippers games.

She secretly recorded the conversation, which is a crime in California and in most states.

California’s wiretapping law makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation.

By “confidential,” this means the people talking have a “reasonable expectation” of privacy.

So you can record a public lecture. You cannot record a private conversation without all parties agreeing to be recorded.

Arguing with one’s mistress would certainly fall under the category of private conversation.

It’s also clear from the context of the conversation that what he was upset about is his mistress flaunting in public the fact that she’s sleeping with these basketball players, bringing them to LA Clippers games – the team he owns.

If the people she was sleeping with happened to be Jewish instead of black, he might have made anti-Semitic comments in anger.

He was angry, and used very offensive language — which might or might not reflect his true views during what he thought was a private fight with his mistress.

He has been found guilty of a thought crime. He has now been apprehended in Orwellian fashion by the Thought Police.

Is this the society in which we want to live – where every private utterance might be recorded, shared with the world, and then used to deprive you of your livelihood?

Not that Sterling will be deprived of his livelihood. He’s a billionaire.

He’ll be fine.

But something like this can happen to you – could happen to anyone.

Everyone says things in anger they don’t really mean and would like to take back.

Everyone says things in private they would prefer not go out to the public.

That’s why we have laws against the secret recording of conversations.

Otherwise, there’s no end to where this can lead.

Would it also have been fine if the mistress had stolen Sterling’s private diary to have the more salacious entries published on the front pages of the tabloids?

After listening to this recording, it’s obvious to me the ex-mistress set him up – probably as a way to show the world what a bad guy Sterling is, or perhaps as part of a blackmail scheme Sterling refused to cooperate with. Or maybe she just wanted to make a few bucks by selling the recording to TMZ.

Who knows?

So the NBA has now stepped in to ban Sterling from attending NBA basketball games for the rest of his life.

What? Huh?

He can never again attend another NBA basketball game, for life!?

But wait, many of these arenas are funded and owned (at least in part) by taxpayers. They’re public places — which means open to the public. These arenas are not the property of the NBA.

Can he also be banned from public parks, from riding the subway, from lying on the beach, from viewing the Grand Canyon, from driving on the roads?

Can he be stopped from eating at restaurants, buying groceries, going to the movies?

Will the utility companies now turn off his power and water for his racist remarks?

You see where this can lead.

He can also never enter the offices of the LA Clippers. He can never again have any connection or association with the NBA again.

But he’s the owner of the team!

He actually built the LA Clippers into the playoff team it is today.

No doubt convicted felons attend NBA games all the time. Sterling has not committed any crimes.

What also struck me is the glee the media expressed after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver “dropped the hammer” on Donald Sterling.

Silver stood in front of microphones to announce what “I” (meaning Adam Silver) am doing to Sterling.

No trial. No hearing. No due process. Apparently, just Adam Silver decides — based on one day of news reports.

It’s strange how authoritarianism and dictatorship are all the rage on the liberal side these days.

Obama regularly boasts that he’s going around Congress, going it alone. Paul Krugman of The New York Times praises China’s authoritarian political model . . . because they get things done.

I have not read the NBA bylaws.  Apparently, a three-fourths vote by the owners can force Sterling to sell his team.

It’s hard to believe the owners would set this kind of a precedent — forcing a fellow owner to sell his team for saying something offensive in a private conversation that was illegally recorded.

A precedent like this would put all the owners in jeopardy of losing their teams.

Have we reached a point in America where you can’t even speak in your own house anymore?

Liberals used to defend the “right to privacy.”

Wasn’t the “right to privacy” the entire basis of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion? — not that abortion has anything to do with the “right to privacy.”

But the “right to privacy” used to be a big deal to liberals.

Sterling’s ex-mistress certainly appears to be in a heap of trouble. Not only has she apparently violated California’s wiretapping laws (a crime), but she’ll be liable for triple civil damages if Sterling sues her – which he probably will.  Damages might be Sterling’s loss of his NBA team.

Don’t get me wrong. I am in no way defending Sterling’s abhorrent remarks. He appears to be a scoundrel.

He had to settle a racial discrimination suit with the U.S. Justice Department. He was sued for racial discrimination by NBA great Elgin Baylor, though Baylor’s suit was dismissed. So this isn’t the first time the race issue has come up with Sterling.  

But in a free society, jerks have rights too.

The free market has a way of dealing with situations like this.

Advertisers will boycott the Clippers. People will stop showing up at the games. Players won’t play for the team. The team’s value will plummet. He might then want to sell the team.

I doubt the NBA will be able to force him to sell his team under these circumstances. 

Sterling says he’s not selling the team. And it’s almost impossible to believe the NBA has the legal right to prevent Sterling from attending NBA basketball games for the rest of his life.

Sterling looks like he has a strong lawsuit in the making against the NBA. I can see a judge ruling that the jury can’t hear the recorded conversation because it was obtained illegally and that Sterling is the victim of a crime.

To read more by conservative writer Ben Hart go to

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Silver's Dictatorship!

Regardless of what you think or feel about Sterling's comments, he has a RIGHT to privacy to say whatever he wishes in his own home, on his own telephone, to not be illegally wiretapped and his conversation sold to the highest bidder!

This would NEVER hold up in court. Not only is he being fined for his "thoughts" but his personal property is being confiscated because of his personal "opinion"! What's with that? Does that apply to only white... or to black racist comments, as well?

If you agree with what NBA Silver's "one man proclamation" puts in motion, I suggest you:

1. Stop talking on your telephone..cell and land line..Ipad, computer etc...they are all recorded...NSA at work.
2. Never utter a derogatory comment on FB, Twitter, about the president etc...your home could be confiscated!
3. Never utter a non PC word (and who decides who is PC) in your home or outside of it ever again.
4. Realize that anyone can record you at any time, blackmail you, or publish your "personal" thoughts and feelings, wherever it will do you the most harm, and the consequences are'd best have deep pockets!
5.Know that, you have effectively given up your right, guaranteed under the Constitution, to
exercise your right to FREEDOM OF SPEECH under the FIRST AMENDMENT.

Be very careful what you want to deny to others. The next victim could, and will very well be you! Think on it!


More desperation Mr. Hart? Ostensibly your article is about Mr. Sterling, but before you get into it, you apparently feel compelled to obfuscate! Yes the Ku Klux Klan once was populated by southern Democrats, but unless you have a time machine and have chosen to permanently live in 1955, you are either being disingenuous or you live in a cave and are unaware that with rare exceptions like Senator Byrd, the racist Southern Democrats are now racist Southern Republicans!
As to your contention that the "market" will cull out bad apples, when will it work in regard to the Koch family? Fred and the boys have been behaving badly for over fifty years! You must believe in reincarnation!

I have to disagree

The NBA, as a private entity, does and always should retain the right to decide who is and is not allowed to be a member of their exclusive organization. Sterling has in his past had controversy on race related matters, too.

Sponsors were pulling out, the players and fans were extremely upset, and when you have all of this in play, Adam Silver didn't have a lot of choice here.

If you are a major stockholder of a big dollar corporation, and your words and actions cause distress, controversy, image problems, and potential loss of revenue streams, I cannot even begin to imagine that the rest of the board wouldn't pull out all of the stops in getting you removed. No different here.

But, let's say that you can get around all of these points, and can talk yourself into the NBA can't ban Sterling. It doesn't take into consideration the "nuclear option" each and every major sports league ams association have in their arsenal. Contraction. The NBA can always just simply dissolve the franchise completely.

There should be absolutely no legal action against Sterling for this conversation, but the NBA and the owners, coaches, front offices, players and fans shouldn't be forced to deal with this nonsense they find detrimental, either.


The NAACP whored itself to the NBA for the money.
The NBA is not the innocent long as it's not public..look the other way.
They are both overreacting to a private conversation because they got hoisted on their own petard!


He was in a privet argument and it is no bodies business. He was set up by his girlfriend, he was taped without his permission, that should count for something. It is not society's place to mess with his team or anyone else's .if his players are unhappy they can go to another team when their contract is up. He has rights I hope he uses them. He should not sell the team nor should he be made to . This is a free country . People worry about your self.

All that looks to be true

And that is why we should not see Donald Sterling sued in court. No law should even exist or be created to handle his situation. He may have some legal standing to go after this gold-digging "girlfriend" of his.

But why can't the NBA rid themselves of this problem he should have been smart enough to avoid in the first place? They may not be able to force him to sell below market value, but they never had to approve his being an owner in the first place, either.