Welcome To The Bitchery

Sterling Is No Victim; Why Conservative, Libertarian Critics are Wrong

Earlier today, the NBA banned and forced Don Sterling to sell the L.A. Clippers after Sterling made bigoted remarks on tape. This is certainly not the first time Sterling has demonstrated his racist opinions.

As I'm perusing the Dead Spin comments, news coverage, and other responses, I'm frequently seeing inaccurate and horribly misguided objections such as...


What about Sterling's First Amendment rights?

He still has them. The government never took any action to restrict his First Amendment rights.

But he's entitled to free speech!

Again and again, I'm astonished at how so many people have so little knowledge of what the First Amendment actually does.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


The First Amendment doesn't apply to private individuals and entities. Companies restrict freedom of speech all the time. That's why your employer can legally ban you from sharing trade secrets with a competitor. That's also why when you order a Happy Meal at McDonalds, you don't see a vindictive cashier telling people to go to Burger King because she's mad about not getting a raise.

Furthermore, the First Amendment doesn't protect people and private businesses from the repercussions of their speech. Yes, you can spew bigoted personal beliefs as much as you want, wherever you want, and however you want. But if you decide to call your boss an asshole to her face, then she is free to fire you as a direct result.


No one is inoculated from the consequences of free speech.

Sterling is a victim of the Thought Police! He has every right to say what he wants in the privacy of his own home.


The NBA isn't ordering Sterling to believe certain ideas. It never did.

Sterling was caught on tape saying horrible, racist things. When those comments went public, the NBA took action in direct response to departing sponsors, intense public scrutiny, and a rebuke from the President of the United States. The NBA's action has less to do with one's activities in one's home and more to do with growing concerns about a self-professed bigoted individual acting in discriminatory ways. Turns out those concerns were well-founded. And Sperling's actions not only violated the Civil Rights Act but he widened the gap between the rich and the poor, exacerbated race relations, and worsened the housing crisis for poor Americans. Bonus!


Also, Sterling isn't an unknown, closeted racist that saves his rants for intoxicated moments at Christmas and family reunions. He has the money and the means to make his racist beliefs a reality for hundreds of people, threatening the NBA as a whole. While I have no idea if that's why NBA leadership did what it did, that's one possibility. Also, Mark Cuban needs to stop being so deliberately obtuse.

Liberals ruined Sterling's life.

We liberals ruined nothing. Similar to what happened to Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, Sterling's firing and team takeover are exactly what is supposed to happen in a libertarian's consumer-driven, free market utopia. You know, the world where corporations can only thrive free from any and all government intrusion? In this scenario, not a single government entity intervened. A business identified a problem — a potential loss of profits — and its leaders joined together in a majority to immediately address the threat.


Isn't that the way things are supposed to work in Ron Paul's world?

Share This Story