Sunday, April 27, 2014

Freedom of Speech

Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;or abridging freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people  peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Earlier this week, Donald Sterling, owner of the L.A. Clippers basketball team apparently made some remarks to his girl friend, who is of black and Hispanic descent, which were recorded.

I am not going to repeat them here partly because they seemed to be edited, but mostly because I found what was quoted as offensive to the American people regardless of whatever context they were stated. Not just blacks, Hispanics, Asians or any other ethnic group but also because they are and should be offensive to whites, which is also an ethnic group.

There were two other events that happened this week that has brought race to the forefront once again. Cliven Bundy, the rancher in Nevada that was involved in a standoff over the government charging him grazing fees for his cattle and the Supreme Court ruling on Affirmative Action.

As you can see, I opened this with the text of the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. When I see things happen, I wonder what could be done. If we assume that Donald Sterling meant what he said in the most vile way he could possibly be thinking and even if the edited quotes left out even worse comments, there is nothing that can be done to him legally for his own words and beliefs. The Consititution forbids it. I do not know if the NBA has their own rules for members of their club (the owners) regarding their speech.

Can anyone really take a man’s business from him? It’s not freedom if he’s forced out of business by organizations or government. But the American people can do something. The players can do things and without risking their livelihood. The fans can do things without affecting their desire to watch their favorite team.

Let’s start with the players. Were I one of the players for the L.A. Clippers, and asked by a reporter my thoughts of what happened, I think I might say something like “how many people in this country work for someone that they don’t like? I’m now one of them. Our team is the players on the court, the coaching staff, the front office and all of the workers from the secretaries to the mail room. Our team is just owned by someone that has no tolerance of people different from himself. The owner of the club is not a team member. He can sign my paycheck, but he doesn’t get my loyalty.” What is the owner going to do? Fire the team? Trade them all? Sell their contracts to other teams? The players will catch on with other teams. If they are traded, they’ll happily be away from that owner.

When a team wins the NBA championship, the owner is usually in the locker room for the celebration. Players could refuse to be interviewed with him. They could refuse to be seen with him. I’d be surprised if Sterling showed up for this, but imagine the players, coaches, general manager refusing to stand on the platform with the owner.

One thing a businessman does not want is to portray himself as negative. It’s not good for business. Even at the age of 80, he’s certainly not wanting to hurt his business interests and while it’s probably too late, he doesn’t want to leave a bad legacy for himself when he’s gone.

Fans could avoid going to the game and watch on television instead. What would that look like to the country to have a playoff team playing a home game with no fans in the stands? It would send a message to the owner that the players are backed but he’s not.

Fans could go the game with a person of a different skin pigmentation. Imagine a black man and a white man going to the game together. The white man wearing a black shirt and black man wearing a white shirt and everyone sitting black then white, black/white all around the arena. That sends a non violent message to the owner and shows support for the team.

While this idea might be considered racist, this could very well be a good reason for everyone that is white to color their skin black for a night at a game.

President Obama was asked about this controversy and he actually had a very good answer. He said, “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk,".

Donald Sterling and every other American in this country has the right to say as they please. They are guaranteed this right in the Constitution. But so do the rest of the American people.

There are people that will try to deface the Staple Center where the Clippers play, and they may even try destruction of property around the Center. I hope this doesn’t happen. I’d rather see Tee-shirts sold that support the players while condemning the owner of the team.

Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, a supposed target of Sterling's remarks, said he wouldn't attend Clippers' games as long as Sterling was the owner. I’d like to see him do just the opposite. I’d like to see him go to the game, and sit in the front row and before the game shake hands with the players on the court from both teams and then again after the game is over on the court.

Donald Sterling is entitled to be a moron and say bigoted things. But the American people also have the right to voice their opinion in non destructive, non violent ways to rebuff his idiocy.

You’re welcome to comment.


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