This cartoon is in response to the recent banning for life of Donald Sterling from the NBA. I want to start by making two things clear. Sterling is a buffoon and said some stupid things. And two, I respect the NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to do whatever he feels is best.
That said, I’m a bit troubled by how far Silver went with this punishment. While what Sterling said was offensive, they were mere words. Adam Silver came out and said that he will not have intolerance in the NBA, which makes me wonder, which was more intolerant, Silver banishing for life a guy who said racial remarks or the remarks themselves?
Again, don’t misconstrue where I’m coming. I do not support anything of what Sterling said, and to be frank, I think Sterling is a spoiled idiot, but is that enough to warrant this kind of punishment? Sure, something should have probably been done, but banned for life, with the final objective to force him to sell his property? This may seem all fine and great to most of the public, but do they realize what kind of slippery slope that puts us on? Silver went on to say that this serves as an example and the NBA will not tolerate speech that is in any way racist or homophobic.
In today’s hypersensitive society, one could easily twist and take out of context anything any enemy of theirs says in order to enact a bitter revenge. I cannot believe some of the things that are being labeled as “racist.” If you disagree with a minority on stuff like policy economics, it’s labeled as racist, and according to Silver’s rhetoric, that’s possible grounds for banishment. And what about the Christian NBA player who holds a particular belief about homosexuality? Will they now be told to change this belief or be banned from life?
And then there’s the hypocrisy. There are basketball players who have impregnated several women, some accused of rape, who obviously see woman as nothing more than objects, yet they continue to play, despite the obvious sexism. Likewise, what if what Sterling said was anti-Semetic instead? Or made horrific slurs against Christians? Would these same people be as up in arms?
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Unless, of course, those words are your own.
A final PS. People took to the streets and cheered after the punishment came down, without realizing what exactly they were rooting for. They were cheering for less freedom. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that they saw Sterling as the old rich white guy and they just wanted to stick it to him. In that case, they were celebrating the politics of revenge. If racial harmony is the objective, revenge is the device that will destroy it. Societies that operate on revenge eventually plunge into chaos, distrust and sometimes even civil war. While Sterling should be properly reprimanded, (with a punishment that actually fits the infraction), as a society, we need to be willing to forgive his actions and move on. The failure to do so only fosters a deeper racial divide. That’s not what I want for this country.