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Donald Sterling’s Personal Beliefs Are None Of Your Business — Right?

by David Badash on April 27, 2014

in Discrimination,News

Post image for Donald Sterling’s Personal Beliefs Are None Of Your Business — Right?

Billionaire Donald Sterling is the subject of widespread scorn, disdain, and outrage this weekend after TMZ released a nine-minute audio recording allegedly of the L.A. Clippers owner and his girlfriend arguing — exposing his racist beliefs. Magic Johnson, about whom in part the wealthy couple’s fight centered, condemned Sterling. So did LeBron James, Charles Barkley, and many other public personalities and most of the online world.

The audio, which you can hear in full below, includes a voice alleged to be Sterling, making vile, disgusting, and racist comments about Blacks and Hispanics.

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” the man in the audio, believed to be Sterling, says. “Do you have to?”

And more.

“You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”

“I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”

“Don’t put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”

Here’s the audio:

Right now, many are demanding Sterling be sanctioned, many more want him to be forced to sell the Clippers.

But shouldn’t Andrew Sullivan, Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown, Bryan Fischer, Tony Perkins, AEI fellow Charles Murray, Legal Insurrection blogger William A. Jacobson, former GOP chair Ken Mehlman, Washington Post blogger Eugene Volokh, Slate’s Will Saletan, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, among many others, voice support for Sterling?

Shouldn’t they be rushing to his defense?

They all certainly were defending Brendan Eich just a few weeks ago. Some, in a strange reverse exercise of “hate the sin, love the sinner” act, even this week.

“Intolerance” was the charge Eich’s supporters used to condemn liberals.

Eich of course is — or was — the Mozilla CEO who resigned (some say was forced, Mozilla says not) after a small software startup and a handful of Mozilla employees expressed upset that Eich, a co-founder of Mozilla, had been promoted to CEO after having donated $1000 to support Prop 8 in 2008. Three of Mozilla’s board members resigned, at least two in protest.

Some private citizens expressed their desire that Eich resign, some made a personal decision to boycott Mozilla and remove Firefox from their computers in protest.

No LGBT organization demanded Eich resign. Ever. There was no organized boycott of Mozilla — from LGBT groups (and sorry, OkCupid doesn’t count.) There were boycotts after Eich resigned, protesting his “ouster,” via NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, and the Family Research Council. Peter LaBarbera. RedState. Breitbart. Even Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer got in on the post-resignaton outrage boycott of Mozilla.

But for the most part, while there was an outcry about the decision to promote Eich, there was not widespread organized liberal uprising. The public square, the marketplace, spoke.

And yet weeks later, 58 Republicans and libertarians who say they support same-sex marriage but were so upset by the “illiberal impulse…to punish rather than to criticize or to persuade those who disagree,” that they signed an open letter of protest attacking liberals who applauded Eich’s resignation.

“Disagreement Should Not Be Punished,” they wrote, adding emphatically that “the consequence of holding a wrong opinion should not be the loss of a job.”

The freedom—not just legal but social—to express even very unpopular views is the engine that propelled the gay-rights movement from its birth against almost hopeless odds two generations ago. A culture of free speech created the social space for us to criticize and demolish the arguments against gay marriage and LGBT equality. For us and our advocates to turn against that culture now would be a betrayal of the movement’s deepest and most humane values.

Brendan Eich made a very public gesture to be anti-gay. Conservatives insist money is speech. Eich spoke $1000 worth of anti-gay words that are part of the public record, and directly supported ugly efforts to marginalize and disparage gay people.

Donald Sterling was (allegedly) secretly recorded making ugly, racist, and frankly stupid remarks.

Should he be “punished”?

If you think Brendan Eich should still be the CEO of Mozilla, or should not have been the subject of scorn and upset, then you have to support Donald Sterling.

And if not, you really have to ask yourself, what’s the difference, and why?

How are Donald Sterling’s very private (alleged) racist remarks less offensive than Brendan Eich’s very public support of Prop 8? Why should Eich’s “personal beliefs” not be subject to the same disqualification for running an organization as Sterling’s?

Is being racist not acceptable, but being anti-gay acceptable?

Because actively working to deny same-sex couples the right to marry is anti-gay. So is actively supporting having the state legally annul 18,000 same-sex marriages — it’s about as anti-gay as you can get. Both were what Prop 8 was attempting to do.

I think Brendan Eich should have resigned. I think Donald Sterling should be forced to sell the Clippers. I’m very comfortable with both beliefs, and both are in harmony.

What do you think?

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Zack12 April 27, 2014 at 2:12 am

I think we're going to see some major hypocrisy from them, that's what I think.
Let's be real here, if Donald Sterling had said this about gay people the cries of religious freedom would be shouted from rooftop to rooftop, the homocons would be telling us that it's a personal thing and that it has no impact on his players etc.
Also, we would be told that his past record (and Sterling's when it comes to race is a beauty) is not a factor.
But since it's race, all that crap we heard from them the past couple of weeks will go out the window.
Let's fact it, you can't be racist or sexist anymore but you can be homophobic.

thomwatson April 27, 2014 at 6:10 am

"Let's fact it, you can't be racist or sexist anymore but you can be homophobic."

And sadly, a great many gay people endorse and abet that status quo, often hampered by their own internalized homophobia.

colonelkira April 27, 2014 at 6:16 am

It has nothing to do with internalized homophobia. Why is it that if a gay person has a different opinion than you they are to be attacked and vilified?

Thank you for proving my point so ineloquently!

Altonfree April 27, 2014 at 10:50 am

Since your point seems to be that everyone should just shut up when someone says something that they don't like, I'd say you just UNproved it.

colonelkira April 27, 2014 at 11:27 am

No thats the complete OPPOSITE of what I wrote we should do.

If you want to debate at least do it rationally and with the facts please.

thomwatson April 27, 2014 at 12:48 pm

If I had written "all" gay people endorse and abet homophobia from internalized homophobia, or that they are "always" hampered by such, you might actually have a point. Since I didn't, your point that I am alleged to prove on your behalf seems completely unclear, and it appears only that you are defensive, have an axe to grind, and find it helpful to resort to insultis about my writing and clarity ("ineloquent") the very first time you engage with me.

I made a general statement about the motivations of some but not all gay people, and no one specifically; you responded by insulting me personally. The irony, then, that you accuse me of attacking and vilifying is particularly rich.

tgflux April 27, 2014 at 3:09 am


Of course, for homophobes like Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown, there IS a difference racism and homophobia (excuse me, "not encouraging same-sex attraction").

It's Eich-defenders like Andrew Sullivan and John Corvino (and good LGBT friends of mine whose names I won't mention) whose (presumed) double-standard on this issue is far more mind-boggling.

Yes, Speech is Free . . . but that doesn't mean free of consequences (only free of *jail*).

thomwatson April 27, 2014 at 6:07 am

Arguably Sterling's remarks could be considered even less worthy of condemnation or punishment than Eich's, since Sterling, while harboring vile, ugly, hateful thoughts, isn't trying to pass laws stripping African-Americans or Hispanics of civil rights. It's disingenuous for Eich's supporters to claim he was just exercising his free speech rights, and especially so if they go on to condemn Sterling for his speech; after all, Eich clearly believed, by donating to Prop 8, that the majority — and by extension him, should his position prevail, as it did — had the right to strip civil rights from other people. Eich didn't just say he was against marriage equality; he actually took action to ensure that his beliefs were enshrined in the California Constitution.

Now, I don't actually believe Eich is worse than Sterling; Sterling probably is nasty all the way through, and likely as homophobic and misogynistic as he is racist. But on the basis of the facts on the table, it does put those who defended Eich against calls for his resignation in a difficult bind, especially if they aren't defending Sterling against calls for him to remove himself from ownership of the Clippers. It suggests to me that at least some, if not many, of those 58 signatories suffer from their own internalized homophobia, buying into the concept that anti-gay actions without speech are more forgivable than racist speech without actions.

colonelkira April 27, 2014 at 6:12 am

Actually it dors mean EXACTLY that.

So boring this article, desperately clutching at straws (and pearls!) to link two pieces of private citizens right to their repugnant beliefs.

What was allegedly said by Sterling and what was done by Eich shows the morally bankrupt nature of both individuals and just how vile they are.

What we must do is speak our thoughts and spread our beliefs. Thoughts and beliefs that we are just as entitled as them to spout.

What we absolutely DO NOT have the right to do is stop others from theirs. It is both counterproductive to the cause and wrong.

"You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours." – Thank you Aaron Sorkin

colonelkira April 27, 2014 at 6:17 am

"When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk. That's what happened here," President Obama……..let me guess…….he has internalized homophobia?!

Altonfree April 27, 2014 at 10:45 am

Who is stopping Donald Sterling from saying what he wants? Who stopped Brendon Eich from doing what he wanted with his money? NO ONE.

Like many people, you don't understand what "free speech" means. The first amendment guarantees the rights of citizens to say (and donate to) what they want, without fear of arrest or censorship FROM THE GOVERNMENT. It does NOT grant citizens the right to say whatever they want with no consequences whatsoever.

If you were fine using Mozilla while Eich was in charge, good for you. If you are fine with going to Clippers games while Donald Sterling owns the team, good for you. I CHOSE not to use Mozilla until Eich resigned. I CHOOSE not watch the Clippers while Sterling owns the team. And if those choices are echoed by enough people, those businesses won't make money. That is not censorship. That is the free market. And it is the exercise of the same rights I share with Brendan Eich and Donald Sterling: the right of freedom of speech.

Do you understand now?

colonelkira April 27, 2014 at 11:28 am

I understand that you are completely wrong and are incapable of seeing it!

Altonfree April 27, 2014 at 5:56 pm

What a well-articulated response! You sure told me!

SeanLiberty13 April 27, 2014 at 9:33 am

No complete tolerance for the equally anti-gay KKK, Neo-Nazis, and Al Qaeda so no complete tolerance for Eich's anti-gay intolerance and no complete tolerance for racist Sterling or his "house negro" girlfriend.

The only tolerance for their intolerance they will get is that they can say it but there are consequences and my criticism will not be silenced. I have the freedom of speech and the freedom to choose where MY money is spent just like any reich-wing dross does.

You call me a "abomination worthy of death" or "pervert" or any other demonizing and dehumanizing rhetoric Anti-gay barbarian dross spout out then I can call you a bigot. Get over it, or don't say it. That is how freedom of speech works. Do not play the victim when you are the one that called me derogatory names or said offensive things to and about me first. Do onto others as you want done onto yourself anti-gays – just saying.

JayJonson April 27, 2014 at 11:00 am

It really ticks me off that people like David Blankenhorn and Ken Mehlman presume that they have the right to dictate the behavior of gay people. You would think that they were leaders of the community, yet they fought equal rights tooth and nail. They talk about accountability all the time, yet they don't even take responsibility for their own actions. If I had erected state DOMAs as part of a political wedge issue strategy or testified in favor of Proposition 8, I hope that I would at least have the decency to keep my mouth shut about the Eich controversy. But of course they don't responsibility for their own actions. After all, like Eich, they were just exercising their free speech. As you say, they should be loudly defending racists as well. But no, they just don't think homophobia is a big deal.

Bose_in_SP_MN April 27, 2014 at 5:13 pm

My response to Eich would have been different if, in addition to owning up to the donation, he could speak in some fashion about now understanding that Prop 8 was bad for California, and wrong for a pluralistic country to let one set of beliefs drive public policy at the expense of other beliefs increasingly held by mainstream, well-respected faith leaders.

As far as I'm concerned, he didn't need to disavow past personal beliefs by claiming that he would now be fine if one of his kids eventually married a same-sex partner. He didn't need to sever ties with a conservative church to join an affirming one. He did need to clarify that if a campaign like Prop 8 arose again, he would at minimum not fund or support it, and ideally speak against reinstituting discrimination against friends, employees and colleagues.

Str8Grandmother April 27, 2014 at 7:19 pm

THANK YOU DAVID BADASH for writing this article!!!
The BTB bloggers who signed the letter are still putting up quite the front that punishment is NEVER an option, for Gays
I will not apologize for my two dozen tweets over the course of 2 weeks to Mozilla + Eich.
We engaged Eich, he responded badly. Eich said that he had to be concerned about his clients in Indonesia where same sex marriage isn't accepted and that same-sex marriage has not yet been designated a Human Right.

So what happened then? We applied more Social Pressure and Eich QUIT. CEO isn't like any other position in a compamy, it is the final decision mker in Company policy and CONFLICT. The guys at BTB are still staunchly defending their signing of the letter. In fact JB says he helped draft it.

THANK YOU DAVID BADASH for making the statement-
*****Suppression of Civil Rights of Sexual Minorities IS SOCIALLY EQUIVALENT to Racism.*****
Why was Justine-"Going-to-Africa,-hope-I-don't-get-AIDS,-Just-kidding.I'm-white"-Sacco was shitcanned? Because of SOCIAL PRESSURE. Nobody was saying that her off work remarks while she was on vacation doesn't count, were they?

I reject the BTB guys demand that we disavow Social Pressure that can result in a person loosing their job. I reject that. The fact is Eich had a chance, he engaged, he simply would not address the issue and that was NOT an acceptable answer from a CEO.

AGAIN THANK YOU DAVID BADASH for writing this article.
You should ho read the comments over there.

Zack12 April 28, 2014 at 12:51 am

I read some of them. It truly is sad how they are doubling down on their logic.
Sadder still to seem people like Randy Potts join in. His statement that the burden is on the LGBT community to show people how bans hurt us boggles my mind, along with the fact that if you don't use homophobic slurs, you can't be bigoted against gays and lesbians.
It's amazing to me how he and others thinking donating to ballot measures designed to take away rights from LGBT people or voting for the measure isn't homophobic.

kyoko703 April 28, 2014 at 6:31 pm

I'm glad to see that someone out there wrote an article like this. The more I thought about it, if our private thoughts/activities became public should we not be faced with the same kind of vengeful condemnations? The only difference being these individuals or wealth we somehow automatically associate with power. But what kind of power do they really have? Did Brendan Eich's $1000 support of a PAC really make a difference such that it tipped the votes for Prop 8 their way? Or is it just easier to blame the guy because we're too lazy to think for ourselves and not get to know the real issue, or worse, go out and vote?

Does Donald Sterling's OUTRAGEOUS comments mean that he wants to take his players out behind the gym and beat them down like Kunta Kinte? Or does he, like every other owner (NCAA looking at you) in the NBA want to exploit their players because at the end of the day, NBA is a business. Is he doing a good job at running the clippers? Some would agree. (I am not a followers of NBA so someone with more sports background can answer this better). Does he mistreat his players and whip them like Kunta Kinte?

Before we jump on the bandwagon and we must ask ourselves should one's private/personal thoughts be incorporated into their business/career/job statues? Is it against the law to have (pure/in-pure) private thoughts? Or is it against the law to acting out such in-pure thoughts?

Extending the discussion further, are we ready to have technology such as Google Glass implanted within the human mind? If everyone's private discussions were captured and available for unlimited playback with 100% accuracy, how is that different than those with Eidetic memories? Or are people with Eidetic memories just undocumented Google Glassholes waiting to be discovered?

The only difference being is their only means of playback is in their mind only. We haven't figured out how to hook up a 4K monitor up to their brain.

Oh well. Enough ranting.

Leevelazquez54 April 29, 2014 at 6:39 am

They're have been reports coming from ex players (African-American Clippers) that Donald Sterling never treated them with any disrespect, or displayed discriminatory acts towards them. This includes the staff that manages his team as well. So if he does not act like he's "RACIST", why does everyone care? Also, when did it become a crime to have preferences? He is not physically harming African Americans in any way. By the way, he never said in audio tapes he HATES BLACK PEOPLE. The media/public took what he said that way. I feel this is extremely unfair. We are beginning to "control" how people should think. As long as people are civilized/respectful (which Donald is) in public, what is said behind closed doors is nobody's business.

Pete April 30, 2014 at 9:12 am

PC running amok. This is horrible. The NBA should have just let the players walk and the sponsors pull out and let nature run its course. But to expressly punish Sterling for personal comments is as bad as the Gestapo. I hate what Sterling said but the response here is even worse in terms of the slippery slope PC has now been placed in this country. WOW

Altonfree April 27, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Oh, really? You said "What we absolutely DO NOT have the right to do is stop others from theirs. It is both counterproductive to the cause and wrong." Since all we did to "stop" Eich was TELL Mozilla that we weren't happy with their anit-homo CEO, you apparently believe speaking = stopping, and, therefore, we shouldn't speak.

Or, to put it another way, what exactly did the gay community do during the Eich case that you feel was a violation of his freedom of speech?

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