We had quite a weekend our here in Southern California over the LA Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling’s private conversation with his mistress in which she goaded him into an incoherent racist rant. Subsequent mass outrage has cost him ownership of the team and a lifetime ban from the NBA. Good riddance to Donald Sterling in professional basketball.
However, the LA City Council is requesting all local papers to stop accepting ads from his companies (he owns tons of rental properties, 100s — 1000s?) So the question comes up, “Does a private conversation now rise to the occasion as to being the basis for destroying a person’s livelihood?”
To my mind, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former Lakers center, has the most rational take on the entire circus. He has lived with, studied and written about racism in America his entire life and sees much to be concerned about in the press melee that converged on Sterling.
Abdul-Jabbar, perhaps channeling his closet libertarianism, also blasted the fact that Sterling’s private conversation — however racist — was suddenly broadcast nationwide.
“Didn’t we just call to task the NSA for intruding into American citizen’s privacy in such an un-American way?” he asked, comparing the secret tape-recording to Mitt Romney’s embarrassing 47 percent remark, recorded without the then-candidate’s knowledge.
“The making and release of this tape is so sleazy that just listening to it makes me feel like an accomplice to the crime,” Abdul-Jabbar fumed. “We didn’t steal the cake but we’re all gorging ourselves on it.”
“So, if we’re all going to be outraged,” the former NBA star concluded, “let’s be outraged that we weren’t more outraged when his racism was first evident. Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars.’”
Guess the next question to be asked is, “Who’s next?”