Donald Sterling: The Unpopular Opinion

Lydia Vaughan
1394 days ago.


NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Clippers

I would’ve written this post earlier. Yesterday morning, in fact. But I couldn’t decide whether or not I would be able to articulate my thoughts in a clear manner. I don’t want you to read what I am not writing. Please understand that I love all people—every color, shape, and size. Like most, I do not agree with Donald Sterling’s stance on African-Americans. I do not endorse racism of any kind. However, something seemed wrong about Sterling’s “punishment.” For racist remarks he made to his girlfriend, he has been banned forever from the NBA by commissioner Adam Silver, and fined $2.5 million dollars.

From what I’ve observed, the popular opinion is that he deserves this punishment. But there is a problem—a deeper problem—with what Silver has done. Silver has done more than strip Sterling of his job, or position as owner of the Clippers NBA team. He has banned Sterling from ever attending an NBA game again. What has really been done is this: A man has been stripped of a right, not because he has done something illegal, but because he has held an unpopular opinion—in private, for that matter. Again, I DO NOT AGREE WITH STERLING OR HIS RACIST COMMENTS. However, I do not necessarily think it is okay, or just, for people to be stripped of their rights of free speech or rights to their own opinion, when they have not actually harmed anyone or done anything illegal.

Here’s why: By taking away his job, banning him from his livelihood, and publicly bashing his name because of his opinion, we are keeping alive the very root of racism itself. By contributing to the “Sterling hate,” if you will, we are saying “we don’t like what you think, we don’t like you, you should not be allowed to (fill in the blank).” This is the very same attitude that says “we do not like the color of your skin, we don’t like you, you should not be allowed to (fill in the blank).” I don’t think Donald Sterling is a good person (at all), but I also don’t think that supporting and contributing to the hate makes me a very good person either. If racism is ever to end, a hateful attitude is the first thing that has to go.

I am aware that the NBA also has rights to protect its business. I am not saying that the NBA cannot punish Sterling based on its policies. I’m simply posing the idea that maybe it shouldn’t, as a matter of principal.

What if it is you, who holds the unpopular opinion? What if everyone around you supports your demotion, simply because they do not agree with your views on a particular topic? What if you had actually done nothing to harm someone, yet were publicly shamed for a conversation you had in private? I would imagine you might feel differently than you did when you learned about Donald Sterling.

I was taught that if a person does not love others, they need love from others. I am NOT saying that Sterling should be praised or rewarded for his hateful opinions. I am saying that instead of hating a hateful person, why not teach him how to love by ourselves loving?

I sincerely hope my thoughts have not offended you…but after all, I do have the right to express them. And, so do you! What do you think? What are your thoughts on ending racism? On Donald Sterling’s “punishment”? Was it fully deserved or a little over the top?

For further reading:

“If we’re taking something somebody said in their home and we’re trying to turn it into something that leads to you being forced to divest property in any way, shape, or form, that’s not the United States of America.” — Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

Donald Sterling Should Sell the Clippers, but the NBA Shouldn’t Force Him to Do It

“Magic Johnson could have taken this thing to a nice high level … and he could’ve said, ‘I don’t care what Donald Sterling says'” — Larry Elder, KABC Talk Radio

Donald Sterling–Ban is Completely Unfair…Says Larry Elder

“Not agreeing with racism or what he said, but Donald Sterling should be allowed to say what he wants. First amendment.” — @CameronLuke007

Sterling Punishment Causes Twitter Firestorm Over First Amendment Rights

Photo credit: SB Nation

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Lydia Vaughan

Lydia is currently finishing her Communications degree at UMSL. With her communication skills, she chooses specifically to ramble on about reptiles, tarantulas, hockey, and music. She's an aspiring songwriter, an Instagram junkie, and always puts the “pro” in procrastinate. AND the “sass” in sarcastic, if sarcastic had another “s.”

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12 thoughts on “Donald Sterling: The Unpopular Opinion”

  1. I agree with most of your thoughts. The one possible mistake that you have made is indicating that he is not being banned from his job. His job is intact as a billionaire real estate developer. I suspect that he is being banned from a very expensive hobby..much like other owner’s of professional sports teams.

    1. I think this is rediculous and all of you have lost your minds. Do any of you not understand where this is heading? Do you think you should lose your job for opinions or statements you have made outside of your job? I dont care if hes a kkk member or a black panther, we are free (so far in this country, until liberals completely make us a communist country) to hold our own opinions and express them, like them or not. the guy may be a jerk, but so what, dont watch or go to there games, boycott them if you want. The team is his property, could your employer levy fines against your property or tell you that you have to sell because they dont like your opinions? There should be no punishment, let the public shame him. Should of Dusty Rhodes been fined for saying black ball players are better than white ball players went the temperature is hotter at an interview outside the game? No it was opinion, and he wasnt, only if he was wrong and they started losing. Should scumbag race pimp Al Sharpton be fired for calling white people devils and many other racist statements on live tv, the answer is no unless him did so at his job, i wouldnt hire him though like MSNBC did. Clarence thomas was right, race dominates today more than it ever did, people need to chill out and stop being so sensitive, especially liberals- all you people see is color and you perpuate racism and dont even realize it, stop seeing black and white and just live your lives and stop worrying about what the next person is doing with theres. Everyone of us has made a racial comment one time or another, if we are all treated like Sterling there would be noone working. Also if we are going to play the stupid race game, do it across the board, where all races/ethnic groups are accountable. We should be thankful for our rights and fight for them, as so many others did. their will always be people in society you don’t agree with, but so what.

  2. It’s counterintuitive and likely highly unpopular but I concur – love the man where he is. It’s highly appropriate to force the issue of selling the team and leveling monetary punishment on the man. That fits.

    In the end, he failed to break a cycle born well before his time on this earth. He failed to see the pain and the hurt he leveled on others; be it one conversation removed or many conversations removed. Be it in private or be it in public.

    The court of public opinion will play its course but the real test comes for each of us -every morning when we rise from pause and slumber; are you bringing the change you want to see in the world? Are you brining the love? Or, are you bringing discord and hate? Certainly use this event as a way to educate yourself and imbue love in the minds of those you have influence with. But let the cosmic forces of the universe level judgement on Sterling.

  3. My husband and I had this exact discussion yesterday. I’m not entirely well versed on the circumstances in which these comments were brought to light, but on the surface, it appears as though liberties have been taken that in my opinion are not entirely appropriate….that is to say – the NBA is going to force this man to sell his team or his “hobby” as Ron points out, and he’s going to make a nice, healthy profit. Where’s the “punishment” in this? Inappropriate and terrible comments? Yes. Appropriate to force him to sell the team that HE owns and funded? Not sure.

  4. His opinions are not breaking laws, however you have to remember free speech does not protect you from consequences. He embarrassed the league, and this falls in line with discriminatory behavior in the past with his real estate dealings. By all means, this does pose the question of why the NBA did not act on this sooner. We all operate in a work environment where we must not embarrass our company, treat fair housing as the ultimate guide of leasing, and a proper work environment. He employs minorities, this has become a negative work culture for them. Think about what it would be like to work for someone who despised you. Not saying that is what you meant about this article. I even understand reflecting on this, but in the end.. Too many factors that go against him in my opinion.

    1. Yes, I agree that SO many factors go against him. I personally am not a fan of the guy. And I also agree that it was an embarrassment to the league, which is why I mention that the NBA has rights to protect its business. I simply believe that banning Sterling from the league and publicly bashing him (as many have done) isn’t dealing with the real issue–hate and racism. That’s all 🙂

  5. 1. To dislike someone because of their views and more importantly the views they choose to express is a very legitimate reason to dislike someone. To dislike someone because the color of the skin they were born in is not comparable.

    2. This is not just any man, not even just any famous man, this is a man who won an NAACP image award. A man who used to bus blacks in to fill his seats when the team was less successful. Those items change the conversation.

    3. You do not have the “right” to a job, you do not have the “right” to own an NBA team, you do not have the “right” to attend NBA games. His rights under Freedom of Speech were not violated. The right to free speech guarantees that the government will not block you from saying whatever asinine thing you have to say (KKK allowed to do parades) and they will not arrest you for those words. (Overly simplistic, but I think it makes the point) As far as I know Donald Sterling is a free man so his “right” to free speech was not violated. If I am acting in a way that damages the brand of the company I work for I would at minimum be disciplined quite possibly lose my job, because that job is not my right.

    No matter where he made these comments, public or private, or how they came to be in the possession of the people at TMZ, the fact is that they are now public.

    1. Agreed that skin color and view points are different. Very true! I was mainly trying to draw a comparison to explain that both situations carry with them a similar attitude–it’s the “you’re different than me, therefore, I dislike you” attitude. You are correct in implying that the NBA can, if fact, ban him from games–the NBA definitely has the right to protect its brand. I only hope that people will consider their reactions to such incidents, because reacting with a hateful attitude (which many have done) is not going to fix the real issue. While it is true that he does not have the “right” to hold any particular title, the14th Amendment implies that we have rights to our property. Sterling’s ownership of the team seems (to me) to be some type of property. I am not a legal expert, that’s for sure! I’m simply saying that fighting hate with hate is not an effective way to ultimately change our culture for the better.

  6. While it would be smart of Sterling to sell the team and reap the millions in profit, it looks like the NBA has no legal standing to make him do it. Even the 3/4 vote by the other owners wouldn’t apply.

    On a side note, it’s ridiculous that people are setting up crowdfunding campaigns to purchase the team. I really hope these people are just using this as their 15 minutes of fame and don’t actually think this is a good idea. 1) With the Bucks being sold for $550 million recently, it’ll take probably $750 million to buy the team. 2) There are a lot better things to do with that much money than buy the Clippers.

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