Corona is the last sponsor to drop Clippers, who are left with zero total sponsors only a lingering and indecisive State Farm.
— NBAMVP (@NBAMVP) April 28, 2014
BREAKING: LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling banned for life by NBA over racist comments in recording.
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 29, 2014
Many readers are asking along these lines:
Nice post on Sterling. Now the $64,000 question: Is it permissible, in your view, for Sterling to face sanctions for his comments? Or do you believe that it’s improper for the NBA or its customers to call for Sterling to face consequences for his words? If so, why not? But if not, why is this situation different from the Eich affair?
To respond to each question in turn: yes, of course, if an owner of a business makes baldly racist remarks urging public dissociation from an entire racial group, private sector sanctions – from the NBA or fans or sponsors – are “permissible.” They are always permissible in a free country. That’s why Brendan Eich is out of a job. The second question is whether what is permissible is proper or justified, and that will always depend on the specific case. I think it’s obviously appropriate in the Sterling case – because the remarks are horrifyingly racist. If Brendan Eich had made comments telling his friends to keep away from faggots, if he’d used any such terminology or had ever been shown to have discriminated against gays in the workplace or in his daily interactions, then his case would be very similar. But no such comments are in the public or private record, and there’s zero evidence that he ever acted in the workplace to harm gay employees. Au contraire, which is why gay Mozilla employees were divided about his ouster, with some supporting him. Sterling’s remarks, in contrast, reveal him to be a crude, foul bigot – which is why there is no division at all among African-Americans in the league – or beyond the league – about his fate.
Unfiltered feedback from readers on our Facebook page. One makes this distinction:
“Eich contributed to a successful campaign that actually stripped gay couples of existing rights, whereas Sterling is being assailed because of private remarks made in a phone call.”
Here is what I would say to that.