Friday, May 9, 2014

Thoughts Aloud

"You are black and I am white
You are blind as a bat And I have sight"
- Ebony & Ivory (SNL version)

In the wake of the latest (over)played U.S. race card, the loutish, last century remarks of a set-in-his-ways old fool, hackles are raised again that, as a nation, the United States has made zero progress in terms of race relations (and/or cultural tolerance) over the centuries.

This is nonsense.

As is often the case, it's the secretly hating and seething themselves, the self-righteous, gas baggy, glass-housed souls, who heave the most aggrieved, loud stones.

To hear them tell it, these thought police -- these angry, directionless ministers beseeching their already converted choirs ... Donald Sterling is a Klansman.

Such extreme vilification of an old fool is not only also nonsense, it's a danger:  To shine a spotlight of any kind on extremism only feeds it.  Donald Sterling is no Cliven Bundy ... and he's not particularly extreme in his outlook.

Donald Sterling is an old man.

My dad, 80-something, is also 'up there' in age.  Stormin' Norm has been known to blow hard too, and -- unpleasantly -- reveals on occasion some of Sterling's, shall we say, irascibility ... This statement of fact does not excuse either of them.  It just is:  old boys will be old boys ... and old ladies and teenagers, Wall Street wolves, working women and children ... You get the idea.  There are segments, and often unpleasant behaviors which come with each territory, and within varied contexts.

A universal regulation of speech, of opinion -- no matter how unpalatable -- cannot apply.

Yes, there are laws, as of course, there should be.  There is hate speech, incitement ... Donald Sterling wasn't hating.  He was caught with his pants down, in an old man's moment.  The kind that I'm willing to bet you, and virtually everyone you know -- male or female, black or white, in fact, young or old ... with few, if any, exceptions -- has (had) on occasion.

Depending on how one defines the term, most of us are "racist", to some degree.  To dispute this is to deny the problem.  But the paradigm has shifted over the past fifty years, so that overt bigotry and non-tolerance is the exception, not the norm.  We should accept this fact as a glass half-full starting point, at least, and advance with it ... and not keep expecting, thereby creating problems.

Beyond this, there is a little matter of privacy, in the fact that Donald Sterling was recorded having his blathering, pants down, old man's moment ...

"Right" or "wrong", whatever Sterling (or I, or you) may think, and whatever words he (I, you) may choose, to express random thoughts as they form and present themselves, in private -- are his (mine, yours).
Why was this old man's private conversation being recorded?

And was he aware it was being recorded?  In the U.S., it's a crime in some states, including California, to record individuals without consent.  Did Donald Sterling know he was being recorded?

We'll leave that to the lawyers, for now.

I'm not defending Donald Sterling (nor my old dad, when he pipes up) ... and I'm certainly not defending any racial "privilege" Sterling thinks he might have; nor the toxic, old school attitudes which he apparently retains from his younger self, in a bygone era, towards women, money and the "ownership" of human capital ...

But I will say that I empathize, as an often wrong individual -- a human being -- whose reasonable expectation of privacy becomes violated.