a very, very, slippery slope

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from The Gray Area:

Before NBA Commissioner Silvers made his announcement regrading Donald Sterling’s racist remarks, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made this statement: “I think there’s a [league] constitution for a reason, right?” “Because this is a very slippery slope. What Donald said was wrong. It was abhorrent. There’s no place for racism in the NBA, any business I’m associated with, and I don’t want to be associated with people who have that position.”

“But at the same time, that’s a decision I make. I think you’ve got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It’s a very, very slippery slope.”

“Again, there’s no excuse for his positions. There’s no excuse for what he said. There’s no excuse for anybody to support racism. There’s no place for it in our league, but there’s a very, very, very slippery slope.”

After the announcement, Cuban tweeted: “I agree 100% with Commissioner Silvers findings and the actions taken against Donald Sterling”.

Mr. Cuban was and is absolutely correct!

The issue here is not dislike for what Mr. Sterling said. It is the impact of what he said on the business he represents, the NBA and the Los Angeles Clippers team. No matter whether he made a racial remark, an antisemitic remark, a religious remark, a political remark or a bad joke, anything that may effect your customers or employees must be critically reviewed. In any business you can’t have your employees, owners or contractors spouting personal opinions, making off hand comments or arguing with customers or others. It is bad for business. And, as such, every business has a right to punish actions that negatively affect it’s customers, employees and ultimately the future of it’s business business.

The NBA could not be a better example of this. A sports league, populated in the vast majority by black players, with a high concentration of black fans, has a owner spouting recorded racial remarks. The reaction is to be expected and cannot go unaddressed.

The NBA also has a unique business structure in that it is a partnership of individual business owners who rely on each other for the success of the overall enterprise. Because of this, they have a constitution that provides the laws by which each partner has to operate. Mr Sterling obviously violated that constitution and his words/action were having and going to have far reaching negative impact on the overall NBA. The Commissioner needed to take decisive action – and he did.

The “slippery slope” comes in when you take that situation and try to eliminate that type of thinking from the league or society at large. You cannot do that! The freedoms we have in this country allow us to say and do anything (legal) we please, no matter how stupid it is. But to try to make illegal the thoughts or positions a person takes would fundamentally harm this country in every aspect of American life.

We must continue to reinforce and educate the society on modes of acceptable behavior and language. We have loosened both of these over the past 50 years – possibly too far – but it is through these societal mores that we handle issues such as race and sexuality. We take them individually and either have no reaction or an NBA type reaction. But NEVER allow the “thought police” of the left or the right to try to criminalize speech or beliefs. NEVER!