By Tom Rhodes, 4/30/2014
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” regularly attributed to Voltaire, but first used by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing under the pseudonym of Stephen G Tallentyre. Talk to any Libertarian, and they will whole heartedly support that position. Outside of libertarians not only would others not say that, they would advocate taking away your fundamental property rights based on what you say in private. The sentiments concerning freedom of speech are dead in the USA.
In 1977 the ACLU came to the defense of National Socialist Party of America in the Skokie Affair. What the Illinois Nazi’s were saying and the reasons behind their assembly in Skokie were reprehensible, but in the USA the entire culture worked under the belief that Freedom of Speech was more important than sissified people having their feelings hurt. Where is the ACLU and what is its position concerning Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling?
His public actions and words concerning race relations are laudable enough that Sterling was about to be acknowledged and rewarded by none other than the NAACP. Now because of the criminal actions of his ex-mistress, Miss V. Stiviano, illegally recording a clearly private conversation, Sterling is being deprived of property rights. Other than in the court of public opinion, the tape recording of Sterling’s racist rant is clearly not admissible, and V. Stiviano’s actions are criminal. Why isn’t she being prosecuted for her crime?
It appears that in the USA “expressing unpopular views in private” is now justification to take away private property rights, be banned from exercising your rights to use your property, or even go to public facilities. It would be nice to see the clause in the NBA Constitution that says the owners can force an owner to sell his team based on illegally obtained recordings of private conversations expressing unpopular views.
Considering what the press, and NBA are doing when a private conversation expressing racist views is illegally recorded and then made public, what are they going to do about Larry Johnson publically calling for the formation of a segregated all negro basketball league? Will he too be banned? His comments were equally racist and unlike Sterling’s were very public. In reality this is probably a power play by big money corporatists to use Miss Stiviano was a honey trap, to sway public opinion in order to provide a politically correct excuse to allow the NBA to give a major media market to the Guggenheim Partners and Michael Milken, but the ramifications for our culture, freedoms, and rights are vast.
Sterling is an obscenely rich bastard, I hope he fights tooth and nail to keep his property, and takes down the entire NBA with him. His public actions and words, not the illegally recorded, inadmissible, private comments to his ex-mistress, should be the only thing the NBA or press or possibly the courts be allowed to consider. Have we really come to the point where property rights can legally be taken away for what you say in private? Do we really want a world where you must assume everything you say in one-on-one private conversations is being recorded and can and will be used against you?
If the NBA owners vote to force him to sell the Clippers and Sterling takes them to court, it would force public exposure of the NBA constitution, which, unlike his illegally recorded private comments, are not currently publically available. It would be interesting to see what contractual rationale there is to force the sale of private property. The NBA probably has a case for forcing him out because of poor moral character, his public affair as evidenced by the public suit his wife is bringing against Miss V. Stiviano, clearly demonstrates Sterling’s poor moral character. Unless being an adulterous lecher in breach of his legally binding marriage contract is now considered a positive moral trait. Unlike his illegally obtained private comments these may be substantial grounds for forcing the sale of the Clippers, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t a line of either inquiry or thinking the NBA wants to explore.
Make no doubt about it, Sterling’s private remarks were deplorable racism, but they were private. Have we really come to a place where we accept the contents of illegal surveillance, which only revealed, clearly protected, even if unpopular, racist opinion and no criminal act as the justification to deprive an individual private property rights? Especially when all his public deeds and words concerning race are so laudable that the NAACP would reward a white guy?
It appears that is no sports personality, no major press organization, and no elected official willing to say “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Why? Unless there is a huge outcry from the press, and elected officials for the prosecution V. Stiviano’s obvious crime we can safely assume that this silence in both calling for justice and support of free speech, is evidence that the First Amendment is dead in the USA, and that there is in fact no right to privacy. The actions of the government and the compliant main stream media make it clear that freedom in the USA today is more like Nazi Germany or Stalinist USSR than the country which back in 1976 declared that although the Illinois Nazi’s speech is deplorable, you cannot stop such speech nor deprive such speakers of life, liberty or property, for merely exercising their right to free speech. Today we routinely deprive people of property based on mere exercising their right to free speech.