T-Bob: Sterling tape just the last straw in long line of offenses
by T-Bob Hebert,posted Apr 30 2014 12:36PM
I believe that the NBA made the right decision in handing Donald Sterling a lifetime ban from NBA activities. I hear a lot of people say, “but what about free speech?” Free speech gives you the right to say what you want, but the NBA has the right to ban Sterling based on his comments. I hear some argue, “Isn’t this an overreaction over some comments made in private?” Perhaps I would be willing to entertain this if it not for the fact that Sterling’s main transgression isn’t this one tape; it is his now very public body of work. There are a multitude of stories about Sterling’s prejudiced and racist beliefs. ESPN has a great recap, you can read it here.
In my opinion, the most offensive part of this story isn’t Donald Sterling’s racist beliefs but rather that he chose to put said beliefs into action. Donald Sterling has time and time again “allegedly” engaged in acts of housing discrimination. In 2003 the nonprofit Housing Rights Center and a group of tenants filed a federal lawsuit against sterling accusing him of “numerous discriminatory statements and housing practices,” according to court documents.
Sterling actively tried to stop African-American and Hispanic tenants from living in some of his apartment buildings. In one of the most offensive accusations, Sterling’s company is said to have refused to accept rent payments from African-American and Latino tenants before attempting to evict them for “failure to pay rent.” Sterling denied the allegations and in 2005 he settled for an undisclosed amount that included at least five million dollars in attorney’s fees to the plaintiffs.
In 2006, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit that accused Sterling’s rental company of refusing to lease Beverly Hills apartments to African-Americans, refusing to rent to non-Koreans in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles, and turning away families with children from its’ properties. Sterling once again never admits to any liability, yet he still paid nearly three million dollars in order to settle. A lawyer for the Sterling Family Trust, Robert Platt, claims, “My clients vehemently and unequivocally deny that anyone was discriminated against. Nevertheless, the insurance companies for the trust decided to settle the case because the cost of continued litigation far exceeded the cost of settlement." I don’t buy it.
Let's assume that Sterling truly is innocent of these alleged discriminatory acts. Many believe that it’s not fair to punish someone based off comments that they thought were private. I am not here to argue whether or not it is fair or right yet just to point out that the reality of the situation is you just can’t do that nowadays. When I was in college, there were times where I felt restricted from doing things that other students could enjoy. I used to think that it wasn’t fair that a college athlete couldn’t get in trouble without it being all over the news. When I raised these concerns, I was told that fair or not, that’s just the way it is, and I had to be smarter. Well, I would argue that this applies to Donald Sterling in this situation. In today’s social media/internet age if you get caught saying messed up things you are going to suffer the consequences. Sterling should have surrounded himself with people that he knew he could trust. No excuses, Donald Sterling should have been smarter.