On Tuesday, after agreeing to sell the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion before deciding to go back on his word and resume his fight against the NBA, Donald Sterling decided to send out a press release championing himself as an American hero of sorts:
Now that my eyes have stopped rolling, let’s break this down one more time.
(Wait, still rolling, having a hard time typing, wo;ihyw2i8ghmklssvn …)
Once again, junior high civics class – this is not a free speech issue.
Donald Sterling’s right to free speech has never been taken away. It has never been challenged. He has a constitutional right to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants without fear of the U.S. government attempting to penalize him for whatever he decides to expound upon verbally. If he wants to say stupid things to his conniving ex-girlfriend, he’s allowed to. If he wants to walk up and down a busy street with a rifle, spouting all sorts of nonsense about a revoked driver’s license, he’s allowed to. The constitution is funny, that way.
What he’s not allowed to do is cost the NBA, a private league, money.
That’s why former commissioner David Stern and his gaggle of NBA owners looked the other way when Sterling just about admitted guilt when signing off on paying the largest real estate discrimination penalty in U.S. history. He wasn’t costing them sponsorship money or drawing attention away from the NBA’s showcase playoffs.
That changed in late April. And because Donald Sterling started to cost his fellow owners money, the league’s new commissioner decided to take action. Commissioner Adam Silver’s moves will eventually be deemed legal several times over by however many judges Sterling’s lawyers get an audience with, because they are already stated in writing in an NBA constitution that Sterling has signed many times over. And because Donald Sterling’s free speech is protected by the constitution, the U.S. government can pass no law declaring it illegal for you to say ridiculous things about Magic Johnson.
I know this is a lot of words for some of Sterling’s defenders, so let’s try to break it down: Sterling’s free speech has been and will continue to be protected unless he decides to move away from the country that made him billions. He is a hypocrite who clung to the NBA’s private and collectively bargained (and legal) set of bylaws when it helped him in years prior, and he’s pathetically clinging to the idea of his rights being taken away as a last-ditch effort to be famous enough to walk around Malibu with women nearly a quarter of his age.
It is not a free speech issue. He is one member of a 30-team private league, one that has the legal right to oust him and force him to sell what has become a weak link for the private league, in spite of that $2 billion asking price.
I’d ask you all to save your emails and comments after actually bothering to read the text that I wrote that comes underneath Sterling’s latest missive, but I have a feeling the “free speech, man!” crowd has already started penning a response of its own.
Kindly use spelling and grammar check before sending it off, please.
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