By Jeff Jacoby
May 1, 2014
A few thoughts on the Donald Sterling scandal, but first a personal disclosure: I have sometimes uttered words in the heat of a domestic squabble that I later regretted. I have expressed thoughts in personal conversation that I would never want to share with the world. On occasion I have yielded to impulses in private that I would be loath to be judged by in public.
Maybe you have too.
Torrents of contempt have been raining down on Sterling since the release of an audio recording, apparently genuine, in which the billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers tells his mistress to stop posting online pictures of herself with black men, including Magic Johnson, “and not to bring them to my games.” Sterling’s comments are repulsive, vulgar, and saturated with bigotry. His girlfriend – who is black and Mexican – effortlessly goads him. “If it’s white people, it’s OK?” she asks at one point. “If it was Larry Bird, would it have made a difference?”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver yesterday suspended Sterling for life and imposed a $2.5 million fine as a penalty for “the hateful opinions” heard on the recorded audio clip.
My sympathy for Sterling is nonexistent. His racist remarks are odious, and they couldn’t have come as a shock to anyone who has followed his career. Yet the most alarming part of this story has less to do with basketball or the racial prejudices of an 80-year-old plutocrat than with what it says about the rapidly disappearing presumption that things we say in our personal lives will stay personal.
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