POV | With Free Speech Comes Responsibility (5/13/14)
The racially offensive remarks of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling that were leaked to the world a couple of weeks ago were bad enough in and of themselves. But I’m almost just as dismayed by the many people who are crying that the NBA sanctions against Sterling are an unconstitutional violation of his “Freedom of Speech.”
That’s baloney. The Constitution’s First Amendment simply guarantees that the government doesn’t get to suppress whatever you want to say. It doesn’t protect you from any negative reactions you may experience from others as a result of that speech.
Stupid as it may have been, what Sterling said wasn’t illegal. But it was justifiably offensive to a large number of people and organizations – chief among them, the NBA – who also have every right to disassociate themselves from him as a result.
Some people forget that “freedom of speech” is not synonymous with “freedom from any consequences of our speech.” And to those who may claim that Sterling’s remarks were made in what he thought was a private conversation, well…private remarks are only private until they become public, however that happens. And once it does, you don’t get to cry “foul” because no one was supposed to know about your poisonous beliefs.
Yes, Donald Sterling had every right to say what he said. But reasonable people have every right to shun him for it.