Why the NBA is right and Mozilla is wrong

As you no doubt have heard by now, the NBA has banned Donald Sterling for life from the league (see announcement above). They have also fined him $2.5 million and are pressuring him to relinquish his ownership of the LA Clippers. All of this happened in the wake of revelations that Sterling had made racist remarks in a private conversation.

Folks are rightly wondering about the consistency of supporting the NBA’s decision to punish Sterling’s unpopular views on race while opposing Mozilla’s decision to punish Brendan Eich for his unpopular views on marriage. Isn’t this inconsistent? I don’t think it is, and I explain why in a short piece at “The Federalist.” Read it here.

17 Responses to Why the NBA is right and Mozilla is wrong

  1. Ian Shaw April 30, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    I guess I still see some inconsistency. Here’s my points,

    -$2.5 million fine isn’t going to effect Sterlings wallet a whole lot.
    -the NBA gets to champion diversity//tolerance for it’s brand and yet as I find racism detestible, it goes back to being tolerant unless we disagree with your point of view
    -the NBA gets to keep tv contracts/sponsors (the NBA wouldn’t know how to breathe without TV deals)
    -Sterling is probably going to make a billion dollars on the sale (how is this a punishment?)
    -Sterling will fade away into obscurity and no one will be talking about him in a few months when the new owner gets going with things

    Sounds like it’s a win/win for everybody. Nobody truly loses in the scenario they are going with. Not the fans, not the league, not the players, not the sponsors, not even Sterling.

    Now, if you were not to fire him (say just fine him) and let the fans and sponsors show him from a monetary point of view that his statements were hurtful and ignorant, that would hurt his bottom line. Forcing him to sell the team for probably close to $1billion isn’t even a slap on the wrist. It’s giving the guy a golden parachute.

    Denny, doesn’t this just boil down to another case of society claiming pluralism (in this case the NBA and other 30+ owners) and trying to hold to it publically, but trying to claim moral superiority on anyone else’s views that are not normative to their own in the public square? I see huge parallels between this and the baker/florist issue in the SSM debacle.

  2. buddyglass April 30, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Do you agree with Sullivan on the hypothetical case in which Eich “told his friends to stay away from faggots” and/or “acted in the workplace to harm gay employees”?

  3. Esther O'Reilly April 30, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    Eh, I’m sorry, but I have trouble getting exercised over this whole thing. Frankly I think Matt Walsh has it about right. Especially the part where he points out the irony that Obama went out of his way to say something about one dirty old man’s stupid comments about minorities, but offered “No comment” when Kermit Gosnell was cutting the heads off of black babies:

    http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/04/28/heres-the-post-where-im-accused-of-defending-donald-sterling/

    • Esther O'Reilly April 30, 2014 at 10:06 am #

      In summary, I agree with Walsh that there’s something quite troubling and unsavory about a guy getting fired for what he says to a private (and quite unscrupulous) confidante.

      • Ian Shaw April 30, 2014 at 10:24 am #

        I just think this isn’t a punishment for Sterling. He bought the team for a $12 million dollars. I’m hearing today it’ll go for at least $700 million. That’s a 5,600% return on his investment, not counting money he made along the way. Tough break for the guy, right?

        • Esther O'Reilly April 30, 2014 at 11:30 am #

          There’s more to it though. The company is also FINING him a couple million collars. Whether or not it’s an amount he can afford isn’t the point. The point is that it’s scary for a private company to act like a government in this way. There shouldn’t be contracts with fine print saying that a company can take away your money for things said in private. They just shouldn’t exist.

          • Ian Shaw April 30, 2014 at 11:41 am #

            Yes, I agree it’s scary. It’s the world we live in now unfortunately. What even stranger is that what he said wasn’t specifically prohibited in the contractual agreement the owner has with the league. The clause mentioned gambling and something else (I can’t recall now), but then closes with a statement regarding any actions that can be detrimental to the league or it’s image.

            To me, that is a huge problem. That’s an, to use a legal term, “inexhaustive” statement. You could claim anything could be detrimental if you wanted to. So if he was going for a walk on the street one day with a shirt that quoted 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 and someone filmed it and put it on youtube, the league would have cause to fire him as well due to the ambiguity of the “actions detrimental to the league’s image” in his contract. Much like how some use the 14th Amendment to aid whatever their cause might be.

          • Gus Nelson May 1, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

            Esther: While I appreciate your concern, do you truly understand how these things get done? This guy has a squad of lawyers, as does the NBA and they bargain and negotiate for every single word that gets put into the agreements they sign. This isn’t anything like an ordinary person buying a car or house and getting some sort of fine print used against them. There is no fine print. These are agreements made by people who have their eyes wide open going in with full disclosure after significant bargaining. There are plenty of laws that require companies doing business with the general public to explain their “fine print,” so from that standpoint, your concern has been considered already by both federal and state laws. However, when you have people in relatively equal bargaining positions, like the NBA and its owners, the law generally stays out and lets them make whatever bargain they choose (as long as it isn’t otherwise illegal).

    • Ian Shaw April 30, 2014 at 10:19 am #

      That’s the beauty about public pluralism. It works on paper, but as soon as offends your sensibilities, it gets tossed to the wayside.

  4. Ian Shaw April 30, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Sterling should just be glad they did try to pursue criminal charges against him for hate speech…..

    Mohler had an interesting perspective at the end of today’s briefing on this and free speech…

  5. Don Johnson April 30, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    Sterling was also sexist besides being racist. If you only hear the racism in his words, you are not hearing with ears to hear.

  6. Ian Shaw April 30, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Right you are Don. We know the league will not tolerate racism, sexism or homophobia. All will be bigots in the NBA’s eyes and hurts their public image. But what they will tolerate is rampant drug use, divorce, adultery, theft, greed, children out of wedlock and violence. But the later problems have no bearing on the league’s image….

    Talk about pointintg out a speck with the log jammed in deep.

    • James Stanton April 30, 2014 at 11:58 am #

      So you’re basically saying that the NBA reflects American society, yes?

      • Ian Shaw April 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

        Yes and no. Are the additional elements I added rampant in our culture? Yes. Are many of them championed as normative behaviors? No. Last I checked, most people think breaking laws are wrong, not being responsible for your children is still seen as a negative. But the league has no qualms with that kind of behavior.

        • James Stanton April 30, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

          I think the NBA probably doesn’t see those things as having much of an impact on their bottom line. I wouldn’t say they champion those things though. All professional leagues try to offer a family friendly product but it’s certainly true that a lot of athletes are terrible role models.

  7. Aaron Ginn April 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    Sterling deserves to lose his team based upon years of putting a crappy product on the floor and a history of racist and sexist incidents, but you’ve got to admire the chutzpah of people like Magic Johnson who associated with Sterling for years and now turns on him just because he was publicly embarrassed. Or the NAACP who was ready to give him an award despite his long unsavory history. Or Doc Rivers who took millions to coach a team run by a known racist. Everyone here is trying to run away from their association with Sterling as fast as they can while trying to cover the tracks of their retreat.

    • Ian Shaw April 30, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

      One big giant “do as I say, not as I do”.

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