7 Lessons From the Donald Sterling Circus

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Before I get started, let me say at the outset that I’m not defending Donald Sterling.  He doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend him, because he’s entitled to think and say whatever he wants to — anywhere, anytime, and certainly in his own home.  Whether he’s a saint or a sinner is irrelevant to me.

Unfortunately for those who demand that Donald Sterling be tarred and feathered in front of the Staples Center at high noon, it’s not likely to happen.  Dorky Adam Silver (commissioner of the NBA) jumped at the opportunity to play the role of tough guy for the Robespierre-crazed masses, but it was mostly for show.  As an attorney, he certainly must know that there is nothing in the NBA’s bylaws that comes close to covering what an owner can and cannot say in his own home.

If Article 13 (the provision that deals with termination of an owner’s franchise) of those bylaws is what Silver is counting on to force Sterling out of the league, he’s going to look quite foolish if The Donald pulls out all legal stops and starts filing lawsuits en masse, which history tells us he is wont to do.

Even if Sterling is a “racist” — a word I put in quotes because its meaning has become so diluted as a result of shameless overuse by those (both in and outside of the government) who continually profit by stirring up ill will among races  — there’s nothing in the termination clause of the NBA bylaws that allows the league to force him to sell his team because one person, or even one million people, are offended by something he said in the privacy of his home.

Donald Sterling is no Boy Scout, to be sure, but his remarks were nothing compared to the daily rants of race hustlers like Al Sharleton (credit Chris Plante), Jesse Jackson, Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Jeremiah Wright, Spike Lee, and a growing number of professional athletes.

If everyone is going to be punished for every offensive comment they make, either in or outside of their home, we’re all in big trouble.  Back in 2001, I recall negotiating a business deal over the phone with a doctor from Kentucky who, at one point during our discussion, casually said to me, “Look, I don’t want you to think I’m trying to Jew you down, but …”

First of all, I wasn’t recording him.  Second, while his remark caught me by surprise, I let it pass, said my goodbyes, and decided not to deal with him again.  No fuss … no muss … next subject.  Would the same people who are calling for Donald Sterling’s head demand that the American Medical Association strip that Kentucky doctor of his license to practice medicine?

While his remark was a turnoff to me, I believe he has every right to say whatever he wants, and let the marketplace decide his fate — i.e., let individuals choose whether or not they want to use his medical services, do business deals with him, or be involved with him socially.  The marketplace is the only perfect arbiter on earth.

And how about Daniel Snyder’s refusal to refrain from using the word “Redskins” as his team’s nickname?  Can the NFL’s other owners vote to force him to sell his team if they believe his attitude is racist?  Where does it stop?

In any event, I’m not interested in opining on the merits or lack thereof of Donald Sterling’s case.  That will be up to the courts and the race-fixated mobs who roam the country in search of the next great “social-justice” issue.  (Yes, the mobs will have a big influence on the outcome of any such court proceedings, just as they always do in the United States of Lawlessness.)

Personally, whenever there’s a big media blitz about some perceived wrongdoing, I prefer to ignore the hysteria and think about what I can learn from the situation that could be useful to me.  Off the top of my head, following are a handful of lessons that I believe are worth gleaning from the Sterling media circus — lessons that you can use to improve yourself and your own life

  1. People say negative things behind your back all the time.  If you don’t already know that, wake up!  If you do know it, don’t let it bother you.  Whenever I hear that someone has said something unflattering about me, I opt to take the rationally selfish approach and do my best to ignore it — especially when I know it’s patently false.  I hope, for your sake, that you do the same.
  2. Don’t buy into the hate-speech scam.  People have opinions, some of which you may like, some of which you may not like.  Best to leave all that nonsense up to the PC Police, who achieve mental orgasms by harassing (perceived) evil speakers.  You don’t have time to get bogged down in group protests if you’re interested in bettering your life.
  3. “They” say that hate speech is bad, but what’s worse is the idea that someone actually believes he has the moral authority to decide what constitutes hate speech in the first place.  Of course, if someone hurls a remark directly at you, and you, in your sole judgment, consider it to be “hateful,” that’s your prerogative.  As an individual, you have a right to make a determination about speech that is aimed specifically at you.  But before you get yourself all worked up over it, remember what mom taught you about sticks and stones.
  4. Learn to reject hypocrisy and hypocrites.  In the Sterling saga, the hypocrisy is so thick it’s stifling, as you already know if you’ve been following the story at all.  The world is full of hypocrites, especially in politics (which is really what hate speech is all about).  Best you focus on policing yourself to make sure that you are not guilty of hypocrisy.
  5. Never forget that friends and sweethearts have a way of becoming enemies.  Make sure your mouth understands that.  Talk is not cheap.  On the contrary, it has proven to be quite capable of destroying lives.  Think before you open your mouth.
  6. In the same vein, be vigilant about not making The Big Mistake.  We all make little mistakes on a daily basis, but be careful about making a mistake so big that it can threaten your very survival.In Donald Sterling’s case, maybe he’s a terrible person — I have no idea — but I suspect his remarks (which, while not nearly as bad as those that have been made by some of his most vocal critics) were nothing more than the angry rants of an old guy who was mad at his middle-school girlfriend.This is where mom’s advice comes in handy again:  If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.  There’s a reason why aphorisms like this have been around forever:  They’re true.  Instead of wasting time fretting over Donald Sterling’s remarks, concentrate on what comes out of your mouth.
  7. The best protection against becoming Sterlingized (a form of sterilization performed by the loud crowd) is to follow a simple rule:  Live every moment as though the whole world were watching and write every e-mail as though the whole world were going to be reading it — something politicians never seem to learn.

Finally, of course, never — EVER — try to persuade people to change their fundamental beliefs, no matter how misguided you may think they are.  Why?  Because you will fail, and you’ll waste a lot of valuable time in the process.  It’s called opportunity cost.

Use your time to focus on your own life.  The only person over whom you have total control is you.  Put your efforts into purifying your own life, and forget about the Donald Sterlings of the world and the rabble-rousers who live for the thrill of trying to destroy them.

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