By: Dan Leach
There has been a major debate in this country and throughout the world over the past 48 plus hours about the comments that now banned-for-life Los Angeles Clippers Donald Sterling made. There are some who will say what Sterling said should be protected because it was recorded during a so-called private conversation. There are many more who believe what Sterling said was abhorrent, reprehensible, and completely unacceptable in a society where tolerance and acceptance should be priority No. 1.
The bottom line is that what newly minted NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced on Tuesday was not only completely the right thing to do, but an absolute necessity in the face of comments that no matter how they were attained – became public, and spit in the face of so many who have fought so hard and long for racial equality.
I recently spoke with a Marine who thought that there should be no sanctions for Sterling whatsoever. He explained to me that he fought for this countries’ freedoms , which I have the utmost and undying respect for him doing, and that whatever Sterling or anyone says should be protected under the First Amendment. Now that is one of this countries’ founding principles and its citizens most inalienable rights. But conversely what that Marine fought for, as so many others have as well, is freedom. Freedom from people making comments so vile that they inflame the entire country no matter what their race is.
Freedom from living in a country where there are no repercussions for saying something that literally makes it clear that a person or people of a certain race are inferior and should be looked at that way. That is offensive to people of that race as well as to the high majority of people of any race in this country and this world. While he has every right under the First Amendment to say those hateful words, that in no way means there should be no consequences of those actions.
As much as I hate what they stand for, I respect that the KKK and other racist organizations have the right to exist because that is what this country is founded upon. As long as they are not inciting violence, doing anything illegal, or purposely hurting people, as much as I disagree with them they do have the right to exist.
But shouldn’t we have a higher standard for someone like Donald Sterling who owns an NBA team that employs thousands, and affects millions? As much as some would like to say it shouldn’t matter if he owns a lemonade stand or an NBA team, I disagree with that. If we are going to tackle the major racial divide in this country it must start with unity and not accepting anything less then that. Donald Sterling was in a position of influence and had so many who worked for him and were affected by him.
The victims in all of this are the Clippers players, coaches, and fans. That is why what Silver did today was so powerful — There is simply no room for these kind of feelings in sports, yet alone in this country. We have come a long way with the issue of race in this country, but we do have a long way to go. Today Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, leader of a game that gives millions a reason for passion, happiness, and joy, helped make an inroad. Maybe just in a small way, he proved that we simply can’t, won’t, and should not have to tolerate intolerance.