12 May 2014

Donald Sterling, Thoughtcrime, and Privacy in the 21st Century

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Are we to condemn a man for what he says in private, to his loved ones, under the expectation of privacy? Do we want to be able to say what we really feel to one another, regardless of the political correctness, in the privacy of our own homes? Are we now no longer afforded the luxury of a private moment, on private property, in the company of our peers and loved ones?

The co-owner of the LA Clippers, an NBA basketball team, has been vilified recently over an out-of-context portion of a secret recording that was leaked to the press by his former mistress, presumably as revenge for something. It appears to have racially-charged wording to the effect of not wanting her to associate with black people and to not bring "them" to Clippers games. In the media fervor, outcry, and rush to condemn him, he has been fined, stripped of NAACP awards, and he is being pushed to sell the team.

Regardless of whether Donald Sterling actually is a racist or not, should we not judge him by his public statements and actions? He was given an award by the NAACP for a reason: he's donated quite a bit of money to the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP. Does that sound like a bigot to you?

If we rush to condemn anyone for out-of-context snippets taken by a secret recording device, do we not shatter our own glass houses in the process?

I have the right... We ALL have the right to privacy. Bigots, Atheists, Catholics, Muslims, Freethinkers, Occupiers, TEA Partiers. The right to the comfort of a moment alone or with loved ones to say what we feel, regardless of the content. It is in these moments that the power of our United States is renewed and reinvigorated. The freedom of speech and freedom to assemble, to associate with whomever I choose and for you to do the same is a fundamental tenet of our republic.

When we condemn Donald Sterling in the court of public opinion, when he is sanctioned and fined by the NBA, when his awards are stripped from him, we all lose a little bit of ourselves and what makes this country great. Condemnation of any person for things said in private is wrong, regardless of the content. Your beliefs may be reprehensible, but you have a right to them. It is what we DO that defines us.

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