And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They'd probably put my head in a guillotine.
-Bob Dylan, "It's Alright, Ma," 1964
The National Basketball Association, following a rapid inquiry, will do as it must, hopefully consistent with its rules and regulations pertaining to owners of its franchises.
At a press conference Sunday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, President Obama contended
The owner is reported to have said some incredibly offensive racist statements that were published. I don't think I have to interpret those statements for you; they kind of speak for themselves. When people — when ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. And that’s what happened here.
Wrong, Mr. President. The statements (TMZ audio, below; extended tape from Deadspin here) were not incredibly offensive. Bigoted and hateful- but not incredible, or unbelievable, uttered as they were by Donald Sterling, never mistaken for a choir boy.
Wrong, also, Mr. President, that Sterling is one of those "ignorant folks (who) want to advertise their ignorance." Politico reported
TMZ first posted an audio recording Friday of a conversation reportedly between Sterling and his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, where the owner told her not to bring black players to team games or post pictures with African Americans on Instagram. “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” the voice in the recording says.
That highlights Sterling's most noxious comment: "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people." Otherwise, Sterling seems to be arguing that he has no prejudice against minorities, and at even one point tells his girlfriend he has no objection if she "sleeps" with a black man. (Isn't the point not to sleep?) Heard in context, his remarks are particularly baffling and bizarre.
But more importantly, this clearly is not an example of comments by people who "want to advertise their ignorance," which the President surely understood. Sterling clearly neither wanted, nor expected, his remarks- or thought dreams- to go public. Yet, the remarks are treated by none other than the President of the United States as intended for all the world to hear, a public expression of the man's beliefs and behavior.
The statement was not public. And it was a statement, not action- which long ago might have been treated as of greater importance than words. It was only a statement, not unlike "if you like your health plan you can keep it."