Thursday, 1 May 2014

The right to an opinion.

In her biography on Voltaire, Evelyn Beatrice Hall  wrote the phrase:

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

(often misattributed to Voltaire himself,  Wikipaedia)

But now?  

The National Basketball Association on Tuesday imposed a lifetime ban on Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, delivering an unexpectedly robust set of sanctions for racist comments that may also compel the real estate billionaire to sell his team.

The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, said at a news conference in New York that an inquiry had established that Sterling expressed the remarks heard on a leaked recording, which were “contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural and multi-ethnic league”.

Silver said that the 80-year-old billionaire would also be fined $2.5m, the maximum allowed under the NBA's unpublished constitution, and that he would now press the NBA's governing body of other team owners to force Sterling to sell the Clippers

Directly quoted from Jon Swaine in New York,,

But this was a private conversation.  PRIVATE.   It was secretly filmed and then publicised, so then Sterling is in trouble.

But is this right?  Is this fair?

We are entitled to our opinions, and the spying on and reporting of private conversations is what makes a police state - think Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, present day North Korea.  It does not matter what opinions we have, we are entitled to them, and we are entitled to air them in conversation.

His punishment -

A series of major corporate sponsors involved with the Clippers announced over the weekend that they were breaking their associations with the team. Silver said on Tuesday: “This has been a painful moment for all in the NBA family. I appreciate the support and understanding of our players during this process.”

Donald Sterling
Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star, mayor of Sacramento and an adviser to the National Basketball Players Association, said Sterling’s punishment should serve as a warning to "every bigot in this country".
"It doesn't matter if you are a professional basketball player worth millions of dollars, or a man or woman who works hard for their family," Johnson said at a press conference. "There will be zero tolerance for institutional racism, no matter how rich or powerful."

Johnson had said earlier on Tuesday that the players’ union urged Silver to inflict “the most severe sanctions possible” on Sterling.

Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles, mayor, also praised Silver’s announcement. "Those are exactly the sorts of strong statements we need to stand up against these hateful comments," Garcetti told CNN.

Directly quoted from Jon Swaine in New York,,

But what law did he actually break?

Maybe we should look at the ex-girlfriend's conduct.  Is secretly filming a private conversation  against the law?  Maybe it should be. 
Deliberately making trouble for her - what is he - her sponsor?  her john?   That was nasty and it was spiteful.

I do not agree with his sentiments. In this climate, I doubt if anyone would have the foolishness or the courage to come out and say that they did, though I have no doubt that Sterling is not alone.  Instead, anyone with a public profile will jump on the bandwagon and also condemn him. 

But I'm not talking about whether he is right or wrong or whether you agree or do not agree, he has a right to his opinion.  He is entitled to say what he thinks. 

As Voltaire didn't actually say: 

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."


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