He’s a jerk, but not a criminal.

The release of audio of Donald Sterling has had America up in arms for several days now.  President Obama even took some time during his trip to Asia to provide commentary.


But Donald Sterling has been a jerk for years.  His words should be no big surprise to anyone – he has been sued multiple times for racial discrimination in relation to rental properties he owns.  On top of that, he’s been living with his mistress while separated from his wife.


But none of that seemed to bother anyone.


Not, that is, until illegally recorded audio was leaked to the tabloids.


The whole thing has been done to death, so I’m not going to dwell too long on the details.


Yesterday, the commissioner of the NBA announced the actions the league would be taking against Sterling.  He was fined $2.5 million (pocket change to him), is banned for life from all Clippers games and facilities (including practices), and can have no input on any business decisions pertaining to the team.  This could make things a bit awkward, considering he owns the team.


I don’t know the details of how NBA franchising works, or the details of Sterling’s contract, but it seems rather odd to me that the NBA Commissioner would have the power to fine and ban an owner.  The ethics of doing so based on an illegally obtained and distributed recording seems wrong, no matter how awful a person Donald Sterling is.


But I’m sure the LA District Attorney will be getting right on that whole illegal recording thing.


This brings a few questions to mind.

  1. Does the fact that he’s a bigoted jackass invalidate Sterling’s property rights?
  2. Does the fact that he’s a bigoted jackass make illegally recording Sterling okay?
  3. Does the NBA even have the right to ban Sterling from accessing or making decisions for a team that he legally owns?

Donald Sterling is a disgusting human being, but the last time I checked, even disgusting human beings have rights under the law.  As wrong as what Sterling said was, if the NBA is taking illegal actions in reaction to his statements, they deserve everything that will be coming to them if and when he sues.  There was a crime committed here, but Sterling wasn’t the one who committed it.

Being a bigot isn’t a crime in America…yet.

Another disturbing aspect of this story is that it has conveniently crowded John Kerry’s idiotic remarks about Israel out of the national spotlight.

On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Secretary of State Kerry decided to stick his foot in his mouth, declaring that Israel was at risk of becoming an apartheid state.  This is one of the Left’s favorite arguments about Israel, one in which they completely ignore the fact that Israel is the only thriving democracy in the entire Middle East region, and that Muslims living in Israel have more rights than any Jews who might have the misfortune of living in any of the many Muslim nations around the world.

President Obama’s commentary on the subject of Donald Sterling was also a bit out of place.  The president took time during a press conference while on his trip to Asia to comment about the incident.  He called the statements “incredibly offensive,” which they are, but he didn’t stop there.  He went on to tie Sterling’s comments to the racist nature of America that he is constantly imagining threatens our way of life…despite the fact that Sterling’s comments have met with universal condemnation across America (and, as you would think he would have noticed by now, we have a black president).

It’s also a bit disconcerting that the president’s remarks came at a time when we didn’t even know for sure whether it was Donald Sterling’s voice in the recordings…but then, every time President Obama has spoken up on matters of race, it always seems to be an ill-advised monologue that comes before the facts are in.  It worked out that way when he said that Cambridge police “acted stupidly” when they arrested his buddy, who was being belligerent, and it worked out that way again when he gave his commentary on Trayvon Martin.  So if we do still have big problems with race relations in the United States, I think we can give President Obama a big chunk of the credit.

Personally, I’m more worried about what Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama say then I am about Donald Sterling.  Sterling’s comments effected no one in any material way, while misstatements by Kerry and Obama could literally effect millions of people’s lives.

It’s also worth noting that the NAACP was scheduled to give Sterling a “lifetime achievement award,” which seems a bit odd given his past incidents…but apparently, Sterling has donated a lot of money to the NAACP, so those awards can be bought much more easily than they are ever earned.


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