The National Basketball Association gave us "A Tale of Two Cities" storyline over the weekend – the best of times and the worst of times.
On one hand you had a whole bunch of great games. On the other you had Donald Sterling, the piggish owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who was recorded making racist remarks to his girlfriend. The remarks were published by TMZ and Sterling was hung out to dry.
Adam Silver, the new NBA commissioner, donned his lawyer hat and said he would investigate and he thought the comments were disturbing. The howls of protest ranged from cries from a fine for Sterling to suspension (how do you suspend an owner?), forcing him to sell his team, and there were also suggestions that won’t find their way into any column I write.
I hate what Sterling said.
I hate racism.
I have always been proud of my family and the way all of us have grown up absent any hint of racism or sexism or any of the other bad "isms." I have always tried to treat people fairly.
Guys like Sterling give me the creeps. A billionaire with this kind of philosophy is, in my view, a dangerous kind of person.
But I also believe, as deeply as I can, that Sterling, and all the rest of us, should be free to say what we want without any kind of sanction for our language.
More than three decades ago, the Nazi party wanted to stage a parade in Skokie, Ill., which was a city where a majority of a population was either a survivor of the holocaust or related to a holocaust victim.
Nothing could be more repugnant than seeing Nazis marching down the streets of Skokie.
Up until that point in my life, I had never contributed to any kind of political movement, party or activity. But I remember in 1977 sending some small check (I wasn’t making any money) to the ACLU for the fund to defend the Nazis.
Jewish blood flows through my veins but the most important thing to me was not being a Jew or being a Nazi.
It was being an American.
You see, I believe in the First Amendment to our Constitution.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Free speech means just that. Free speech. No maybes. Free!
No, you can’t falsely yell "fire" in a crowded movie theater, because that presents a "clear and present" danger to people.
But Sterling isn’t even close to meeting that standard. Sure, he’s a pig. Sure, he’s vile. Sure, he’s shameful.
But he’s not without his rights, rights that belong to each and every one of us.
Once we decide to punish people for something they say that is within their rights, we are on a slippery slope I would just as soon avoid.
Let’s see Adam Silver and the other owners stand up for what’s right in our world, not cave in to a justifiable, honorable and popular public outcry.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.