Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mark Cuban More Worried About Slippery Slopes Than Racist Owners

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (whose name is frequently preceded by the description "outspoken") finally made his opinion on LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling (whose name shall henceforth be preceded by the description "racist" or "bigoted") public. And while Cuban found Sterling's thoughts "abhorrent," Cuban was also worried about going down a "slippery slope." He argued that "If we start trying to legislate morality, we've got much bigger problems."

And while I agree with that sentiment, this isn't a case of legislating morality. Donald Sterling doesn't just hold an unpopular opinion. It's not really an opinion at all.

People aren't advocating for the removal of Donald Sterling because of an opinion on abortion, or Obamacare, or because he denies climate change, or because he wants to ban assault weapons. People want Sterling out, not because of his beliefs and morals, but because of who he is and what he's decided to be.

Being a racist isn't a moral opinion. It's a decision to not view other human beings as human beings. That's not a moral issue to be judged or "legislated," to use Cuban's term. People don't want Sterling to go because of his opinions, they want him gone because of the decisions he has made to be a racist. He has chosen to be racist.

Mark Cuban was born to Jewish parents. His brother Brian is a lawyer who has made legal efforts to compel Facebook to ban Holocaust denying Facebook groups. What if an NBA owner were recorded saying that the Holocaust wasn't real and that Jews run the media? What if an NBA owner were recorded praising Adolf Hitler, and had a copy of Mein Kampf and other Nazi literature and paraphernalia gloriously displayed in his private study? Is viewing Jews as subhuman a moral opinion? Or is it a choice?

Antisemitism isn't a moral opinion to be disagreed with nor is any form of racial prejudice. The person makes the choice to be so utterly ignorant and to dehumanize other human beings.

I can argue with someone who has a differing opinion from mine. And maybe their opinion will change, maybe mine will change, maybe not. Can you argue with a racist? Can you sway what a racist has decided to think about black people or Jews? Will they be able to convince you that black men shouldn't date white women, and that there was no Holocaust? You wouldn't be arguing an opinion, you'd be arguing a decision.

My saying "Magic Johnson is the best LA Laker since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar" is an opinion. Saying "You shouldn't be seen in public with Magic Johnson because he's black," is NOT a moral opinion, it's a decision to see Magic Johnson as less than human.

We're all human beings. That's a fact, not an opinion. Disagreeing with that fact that we're all human is also not an opinion, it's a decision.

So, Mr. Cuban, Mr. Outspoken, you are wrong here. If Donald Sterling is removed it won't be because of his morals. It will be because of his decisions. Sterling made, makes, and will continue to make the decision to view black people as something not quite human. And that doesn't belong in the ownership ranks of the NBA or any sport.