Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Freedom of speech has consequences…

Are we a nation that believes in freedom of speech and expression or not?

Given the public outcry and NBA sanctions against Donald Sterling, the owner of a professional basketball team, for expressing what has been interpreted as racist remarks, it appears that intolerance is valued above freedom of speech.

Many of the people condemning Donald Sterling are the same ones who urge us to be tolerant of diversity, homosexuality, Islam, and perverse life styles of every sordid sort.  Their view of “tolerance” apparently only goes as far as what they already agree with or what they consider “politically correct.”

Freedom of speech has consequences.  It means not merely tolerating the speech you agree with, but also tolerating the speech you disagree with.  Sterling did not “threaten” anyone.  Muslims threaten the lives of people every day of the week, but that seems to be ok.  We don’t condemn either the individual or the Islamic ideology that promotes such hatred for that.  But we condemn an individual for expressing an opinion about our culture, however shocking or abhorrent it may be to the sensibilities of the majority.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) action against Sterling effectively strips him of his freedom of speech and his business.  While he is a wealthy man, the enterprise of an individual is a major part of his livelihood and very being.  These sanctions are emotion-driven, knee-jerk overreach and overkill.  These sanctions will have worse consequences on the freedom of speech in our nation than the rancid words of Sterling would ever have on racial relations.

Consider the stifling effect this sort of action has on any business owner who has an opinion on morality, homosexuality, race, religion or virtually anything that should be a normal and open part of public discourse and freedom of expression.

Freedom of speech was not intended to be merely protected from an oppressive government.  It should be a protected right in every area of public discourse as long it does not pose an imminent danger to public health and safety.

As sloppy and ill-conceived as Sterling's remarks were, I am hopeful that he sues the britches off of the NBA for depriving him of his first amendment rights, breach of contract, and depravation of his legitimate livelihood.  This would be one situation where I would applaud ACLU intervention.

Based on current news, Sterling is not about to give up his team:

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