Thursday, 1 May 2014

Steyn on Sterling on the Right to Be a Bigot in Your Own Home

No doubt you’ve heard about the owner of the LA Clippers basketball team, who’s had his wings clipped by the NBA’s Commissioner and his team stripped from him for being “recorded saying that he didn’t want black people at his basketball games.”

Mark Steyn wonders (writing under the best headline of the whole schmeer) if  that’s the whole story. And why it’s really news.

Russia has seized the Crimea, China is threatening to seize Japanese islands, Iran is going nuclear, and, at President Obama's Sunday press conference on his Asian tour, the accompanying reporters took time out from asking him whether he'd slept well and had enjoyed the Mount Fuji ice cream in Japan to seek his opinion on some rich bloke's argument with his mistress. …
    Donald Sterling isn't famous, but he owns something famous - a sports team. He's an octogenarian billionaire with a mistress a quarter of his age currently going under the oddly priapic name "V. Stiviano", although, according to the legal complaint, also known as "Vanessa Maria Perez", "Monica Gallegos", "Maria Monica Perez Gallegos" and "Maria Valdez". The mistress goes around with other men. The rich bloke takes a relaxed view of this, except insofar as they're black men. On the tape leaked by Ms Stiviano to the press, Mr Sterling is heard telling her:

Bring him here, feed him, f**k him, I don't care. You can do anything. But don't put him on an Instagram for the world to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him to my games. OK?

It's not clear whether Ms Stiviano also consorts with white men, Asians, Pacific Islanders, or only with black men. But the point of contention appears to be that Mr Sterling doesn't mind his mistress bringing black guys back to the pad and going to bed with them but that, having lavished upon her many baubles including (just to stick to the motor vehicles category) a Ferrari, two Bentleys and a Range Rover, he'd rather she didn't bring the black guys to his games.

However reprehensible his comments might be, that’s a little more “nuanced” than simply saying “he didn’t want black people at his basketball games.”

Permissive as he might be at home, seems what he really objected to was not black people at his games, per se, but one particular black person being granted unconventional supererogatory domestic privileges.

Nonetheless, Sterling’s been pilloried in America the same way anyone saying anything the herd doesn’t like is pilloried here (Willie Jackson, John Tamihere, Paul Henry, Alasdair Thompson, Paul Holmes et al). And that, perhaps, is the real story. Or should be.

Steyn draws the conclusion, in another column rounding up comments from the likes of Bill Maher and Karem Abdul-Jabar, that bad as Donald Sterling’s private comments were, what the NBA and the lynch mob is doing publicly is much, much worse. Main point being:

In a free society you should be able to make racist remarks in private without being fined and losing your property rights. Because the alternative is worse.

Think about it.

PS: Lindsay Mitchell links to a good post making a further good point, about the benevolence of capitalism.

Sterling was caught on tape making prejudicial remarks against blacks to his girlfriend, even exhorting her to not associate with blacks.
     Yet, let’s notice something important here: Most of the Clipper team is composed of blacks!
How is that possible? Here you have an owner who is clearly prejudiced against blacks and who obviously does not want to associate with them. Why in the world does he have so many blacks on his basketball team?     Why not instead hire mostly whites?
    The answer is very simple: Sterling’s love of the colour green trumps his dislike of the colour black.
    This is what the market does — it breaks down racial prejudice by imposing a cost on the bigot.

This is one of the many blessings of the unhampered market. You might prefer to be a bigot, but when your competition and your customers are advising you not to be you generally listen to them and keep your bigotry at home.

[Pic from Steyn Online]


  1. As I understand it he was referring to one particular person, who just happens to be a negro, therefore I cannot see what all the fuss is about.

    It appears to be the usual manufactured umbrage and hypocrisy which has become commonplace in recent times.

    Unless I am very much mistaken his critics will all be living in gated communities in white neighbourhoods; I wonder who the gate is designed to keep out? (probably rampaging hoards of uzi carrying, liquor store robbing Canadians hahaha!)

  2. It's not a secret he is racist, and this was a smoking gun. As a franchise owner, he is in partnership with the NBA and the other owners in delivering a commercially successful league. He will have to sell the franchise because the league and the other owners don't want to be in business with him, and that is their right as per the franchise agreement.
    I don't believe this is a free speech issue or a property rights issue. It's a 'being a areshole' issue and it was a long time coming.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.