David Badash has some questions:
Right now, many are demanding Sterling be sanctioned, many more want him to be forced to sell the Clippers.
But shouldn’t Andrew Sullivan, Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown, Bryan Fischer, Tony Perkins, AEI fellow Charles Murray, Legal Insurrection blogger William A. Jacobson, former GOP chair Ken Mehlman, Washington Post blogger Eugene Volokh, Slate’s Will Saletan, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, among many others, voice support for Sterling?
Shouldn’t they be rushing to his defense?
They all certainly were defending Brendan Eich just a few weeks ago. Some, in a strange reverse exercise of “hate the sin, love the sinner” act, even this week.
The most promising principle put forth in defense of Eich was the idea that, as a general rule, people shouldn’t lose their jobs for their political opinions. An obvious and
necessary caveat would be when those expressions of political opinion are directly related to that person’s capacity to do his job well: no one would seriously object to, say, Obama firing his press secretary for publishing articles calling for the repeal of Obamacare, even he wrote them off the clock. I suggested this exception rather obviously applies in the case of Eich, because a) it’s perfectly reasonable for gay employees and business partners to a) feel less than thrilled about working for someone who petitions the state to dissolve their marriage, and b) not feel they need to self-censor out of concern for the possible reputational costs expressing their feelings might have for their boss. But for Eich’s defenders, that was not enough–as long as he wasn’t directly and specifically discriminating against gays and lesbians in the workplace, these indirect concerns were irrelevant.
By this standard, any action against Sterling–or, indeed, any public complaint about his unfitness for the ownership of an NBA team, must be accompanied by evidence of racial discrimination in the Clippers organization. Using the standards used to suggest Eich was somehow wronged, we’d have to demonstrate direct evidence of something along the lines of JJ Redick receiving preferential treatment over Chris Paul for clearly racially discriminatory reasons, not only should Sterling retain his owner status, suggesting otherwise is a threat to a robust free speech culture.