A Racist Old Man. So?

A rich old white man instructs one of his black employees in private not to be photographed with black men. The black men include other employees he pays millions of dollars for their skills. (I have no quarrel with this fact; if he didn’t, others would. There is a real market here.) The employee so instructed normally provides the old man with lots of face among other rich old geezers because she is beautiful. She contributes to his image, he thinks. She may also sell him some affection. The old guy is 80. Who would bet she provides much more than affection? Part of the deal is that he is allowed to refer to her as his “girlfriend.” Nobody is fooled, I would think.

For my overseas readers,: I refer to the owner of the Los Angles Clippers, an average basketball team that is part of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The old man’s name is “Sterling.” The NBA official who punishes him is named “Silver.” Makes it sound like a family quarrel. And it would be if the press were doing its job. See below.

The media explodes in outrages when those few words are leaked. The manufactured scandal occupies the best part of a day of news plus some. Some African-Americans are permanently in a rage anyway (for reasons I understand, I think.) Other African-Americans find it expedient, political to be also in rage whether they feel any rage or not. What are the white liberal media figures – public friends of racial minorities all – supposed to do? Does anyone think they might have stated, “No big deal, boring,” and gone back to covering real news?

I, for one, am not outraged. I am bored. Why should I care about what instructions an employer gives one his employees who participates in this shaky image building? Why should I care when his own black employees, more than 2/3 black themselves don’t say a thing about the alleged verbal atrocity?

If I did care, what right would I have to do or even say anything? If they are offended, the man’s highly coveted black players and their offended white teammates can walk away, go on strike. Offended players on other teams can refuse to play with the Clippers. The paying public can boycott the team all it wants if it’s scandalized.

Instead, the Grand Poopah of the National Basketball Association – to which the Clippers belong – forbids the old man from attending his own team games forever and fines him 2.5 million dollars. Poopah Silver’s entourage makes loud public statements about forcing him to sell his team.

What is the Poopah going to do if the old man stands his grounds about the fine and flips him one? Does he have a private geriatric jail into which to throw the old man? It all sounds to me like a private confiscation of private property and a gangsterish restraint of trade. That’s a mafia-like action.

I hope the old man fights back and sues. I hope I am on the jury.

Yes, fascism is in the air. But it does not come from a rich old guy with a mind floating in another era and associated prejudices. We learn the next day that US GPD growth for the first quarter of 2014 is 1/10 of 1 %. That’s a French level. President Obama’s policies are all failing, domestic and foreign. The Democratic Party if facing congressional elections in the fall. Many Democrats are running scared. The party needs to draw attention to something else, to anything at all. The mass media are obliging as usual. Panem et circenses and the panem is  stale.

9 thoughts on “A Racist Old Man. So?

  1. I’m bored too. Yes, his mind is floating in another era (I’m 10 years younger and I had no clue that offense was being given when, as a tyke, I recited the nursery rhyme, “Eenie, Meanie, Miney Moe, Catch a N***** By the Toe”). Yes, this has all been blown way out of proportion.

    But as I understand it, the NBA bylaws that whatshisname signed when buying his team provide for fines of up to $2.5 million in certain circumstances and require that he sell his team in other circumstances. If this is correct, this is not arbitrary coercion, and the NBA commissioner is justified in these actions. But that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be litigation.

  2. I’m in agreement with Dr Gibson here. The NBA is a private organization and Sterling entered into an agreement with it when he bought the Clippers.

    The coercion the NBA is currently using to force Sterling out is very different from the coercion of the government.

    Sterling should have known better than to confide in an LA Woman the way he did.

  3. Warren and Brandon: You assume that private parties can legally enter into any contract at all. It’s not so. You may not sign yourselves into slavery for example. Again, what’s the NBA going to do if the man refuses to pay his fine? Should we assume that a judge will smoothly enforce the sentence because it’s part of a contract?

    • I assume no such thing, and I know of nothing in the contract that constitutes selling ones self into slavery. Do you? I believe the terms of the contract call for arbitration, and the arbitrator’s decision is ultimately enforceable in court.

    • Warren: The fact – confirmed below by Terry – that there is a contract allowing to do something or other to Sterling, the fact that Sterling entered freely into it, these facts don’t dictate the outcome. They don’t because it is not the case that all contracts are enforceable in court. I gave a common illustration of this general principle: if I signed a contract selling myself into slavery, it would not be enforceable in court. (I did not suggest that anyone related to that case had been sold or had sold himself into slavery.)

      Perhaps Mr Sterling’s punishment will be disputed through arbitration, as you suggest. I don’t think so because there is no reason for the NBA to try and resolve the issue. It only wants the publicity. I hope not; I would like the issues about private communications between employer and employees raised by this case to be decided formally, in a court of law.

  4. “(l) The Commissioner shall, wherever there is a rule for
    which no penalty is specifically fixed for violation thereof, have the
    authority to fix such penalty as in the Commissioner’s judgment shall
    be in the best interests of the Association. Where a situation arises
    which is not covered in the Constitution and By-Laws, the
    Commissioner shall have the authority to make such decision,
    including the imposition of a penalty, as in his judgment shall be in the
    best interests of the Association. The penalty that may be assessed
    under the preceding two sentences may include, without limitation, a
    fine, suspension, and/or the forfeiture or assignment of draft choices.
    No monetary penalty fixed under this provision shall exceed

    Hardly a slavery contract. BTW, I’m not sure ‘sentence’ is the right term for a tort. The fine, suspension, et cetera seems fairly straight forward.

    However, I’m not sure about the contractual foundation for forcing a sale. The contract seems very specific and being a public ass does doesn’t show up any where that I can see.

    Click to access NBA-Constitution-and-By-Laws.pdf

  5. I don’t argue with any of this . I am just: 1 wondering aloud what will happen if he goes to court. No court is forced to enforce any contract; 2 I am commenting on the slavishness of most of the national press with respect to any item at all that has the power to replace a conventional discussion of the current administration’s failures and cover-ups.

    PS I was beginning to miss you, Terry.

    • I think it depends on why he goes to court. I don’t think he has a prayer fighting the suspension. On the other hand, I don’t see how he can be forced to sell his team. Surprisingly, I don’t share your opinion about the motivation of the press. Primarily because it’s not just the ‘national’ press, it’s international. CBC has a more pleasant tone than the media coming up from south of the border but the inane topics are jut as mind numbing.
      Yes I missed the blogging here. Alas, I’m not yet a retired professor. Unlike some people, I can’t sit at a sidewalk café sipping coffee and pretending I remember why attractive women are interesting 😉

  6. Jacques is right. Just because there is a contract doesn’t mean it will necessarily be enforced. That’s one way tort lawyers make a living. Case in point….

    “On September 8, 1975, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, a major
    vendor of nuclear reactors and a major contractor for uranium fuel,
    announced that it would not honor fixed price contracts to deliver
    nearly 70 million pounds of uranium. Westinghouse claimed that it was
    not legally bound to honor these contracts by appealing to the rarely
    used section 2-615 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) which allows excuse from the performance of contractual obligations for reasons of “commercial impracticability”. In particular that for “unforeseeable” reasons uranium prices had risen to levels several times those at which Westinghouse had agreed to deliver uranium to utilities and that performance on such contracts, with a potential loss of as much as $1.5 billion, was “commercially impracticable”.

    Westinghouse won.

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