SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
So there’s this rich guy named Donald Sterling, who told his half-black girlfriend that he doesn’t like black people. And even though he said it behind the doors of his own home, somebody recorded it and now everybody knows, and they won’t let him be anywhere near his own business anymore.
That’s pretty much it. Now the media has mostly moved on, while Sterling is losing that business in return for a whole lot of money, which makes him just as rich but still not a nice guy.
Sterling, who owns a basefootketball team or something like that, has a long history of saying racist things. His newest rant caused the predictable argument between Republicans and Democrats, each side claiming Sterling belongs to the other. It was like when I used to get picked last in gym class.
The truth turned out to be unclear. Sterling, despite a history of contributing to Democratic candidates, is a registered Republican. Maybe he’s a Republican in name only, making him a RINO elephant … but his contributions to Democrats are a pittance for someone of his wealth. It was the equivalent of Donald Trump throwing loose change at a RINO wino.
Despite myself, I dug into his background, trying to look under his white hood and get a sense of the man. My conclusion: He’s not left or right. He’s just a bad guy, probably throwing his support at anyone who helps him make money.
I’ve known some decent rich people who work hard, then give back. Donald Sterling’s not one of them.
So why had I never heard of him? Because he’s a basketball team owner, and I despise basketball. I can live with most sports, but I absolutely can’t stand basketball—I will actually walk out of the room if a game’s on TV. So I don’t know this guy from Adam, assuming Adam’s a racist pig.
My feeling is that we should stop angling for political capital and look at it for what it is: An old guy who’s still living in the 50’s. The 1850’s.
Maybe a bigger question is, how can people like that still think this way, in the 21st Century? Especially since Sterling’s name isn’t Sterling: It’s Tokowitz. He’s a Jewish guy with a mixed-race girlfriend (and a wife, which says something about him), and should know something about prejudice.
On the other hand, he was born in 1933 in Chicago, and so grew up in a place where white and black people didn’t always get along. He was already in his 30’s when Martin Luther King, Jr. was doing his work. He wouldn’t be the first old guy who just couldn’t adjust to the idea that what he learned as a youth might be wrong.
In other words, he’s a scumbag.
And yet …
Oh, I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve a smack down. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve public ridicule. I’m not saying that having mixed feelings on this matter doesn’t make me uncomfortable.
Yet I’m bothered by the idea that a guy can be fined big bucks and have his company taken away from him because he has an opinion. Especially an opinion that, in the triggering case, was given in the privacy of his own home and recorded without his knowledge.
(I’ve since learned things about how the NBA is organized that shows their justification in taking his team away, but this is a humor column, and I can only explain so much.)
I once had a Confederate flag in the privacy of my own home. Granted, I was twelve, but still … does my owning a Johnny West action figure mean I hated Indians? (Okay, so I owned Geronimo, too.)
What if we can all be stripped of what we own just for having an opinion? What if the cattle industry demanded I have my car taken from me because I hate liver? If some vegan activist recorded me in my kitchen saying I love steak, and it resulted in a fight between them and the pork industry, is it their business whether I have a beef with liver?
So, yeah, I have some concerns with the whole thing. Mostly I have concerns about having to defend a worthless scumbag who should be beaten with a basketball bat. Do they have those?
What I would expect in America is that I can rib you in my columns, and if you don’t like my bull you can vote with your hooves and just walk away, leaving me penniless and opinionated.
And to show you how that works, starting right now I’m never again going to a game played by that team Donald Sterling owns.
Whatever team that is.