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Donald Sterling and the court of public opinion

Donald Sterling caught on tape
Donald Sterling caught on tape

Clippers owner Donald Sterling an old white guy caught on tape without his knowledge making racist comments while talking to his bi-racial mistress is a gold mine for newsrooms. The story has all the ingredients necessary to entertain the viewer and this is the problem with the story. It’s a story that frankly isn’t anyone’s business but the two parties on the tape. Everyone else is a voyeur into events that should have been a private conversation.

Donald Sterling isn’t a nice guy but what’s worse are the people who knew him for decades and said very little to put Sterling in check for his conduct. Now he is public enemy number one banned for life, fined millions of dollars and possibly losing his team simply because he was having a private conversation on the phone. The comments were deplorable and there is no room in society for such vile and racist language. But the punishment doesn’t fit the crime and in this case no crime was committed.

The court of public opinion was the wrong venue to try and convict Donald Sterling. It isn’t the place of the media or the public to penalize a person for ignorance. Donald Sterling isn’t the first white person to have these feelings but how he feels is less important than how he acts. Everyone associated with the NBA, the media and civil rights organizations should be ashamed for picking this incident to get upset. Sterling has a thirty year track record of real egregious behavior against minorities, a taped private telephone conversation leaked to the public is a cowardly way to stand up for racial injustice.