Klavan: Sterling Shouldn't Be Punished At All

Personally? I think racism — true racism: the devaluation of people because of their skin color or bloodlines — is an intellectual nonsense and a moral transgression.

The arguments about dysfunction in minority communities won't wash, and neither will any of the half-baked genetic claptrap. Read Zola or Dickens and you’ll see that the pathologies of industrial poverty are no different in today’s inner cities than they were in the slums of the past. Read the racist tracts from those days and you’ll find the same hateful pseudo-scientific theorizing about the Irish and the Jews that is now sometimes turned against blacks or Mexicans. With leftists constantly mouthing charges of racism to silence the opponents of their destructive policies, it’s easy for real racists to convince themselves they’ve got the contrarian inside track on some naughty, censored truth. Sorry, it’s all a bunch of old trash.

As for the morals of it: man was made in God’s image. That’s why the command to love your neighbor is “like unto” the command to love God. To denigrate someone for the nature of his creation is to spit in God’s eye — never a smart move, trust me. Of course, if you don’t believe the above premises, then feel free to hate anyone for any reason you like. Knock yourself out.

Having said all this, I should also say that I have several friends who are avowedly racist. They sincerely believe that some races are genetically and morally inferior to others.

Every now and then, a person who knows me well enough to understand that I take this whole love-your-neighbor business seriously in my own hilarious way, asks me why I tolerate these views in my friends. But the answer is simple. I love my friends; they advocate harm to no one; they believe in liberty and legal equality for everyone; and, like me, they have reached their conclusions through reading, thinking, experience and the evidence of their own eyes. I’ll argue with them. They know where I stand. But what am I supposed to tell them? Don’t see what you see? Don’t think what you think? Yes, you grew up in a neighborhood where black thugs abused you, but allow me to delegitimize your experience? Yes, there is intractable bad behavior among poor minorities, but my understanding of these phenomena trumps yours? No. They have the right to their opinions.

L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling has a bad-hat history. He's been accused of housing discrimination, sexual harassment and failure to pay salaries. He's even donated money to Democrats, the party of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, the abortion of millions of black babies, and the entitlement system that helped destroy the black family. To me, he sounds like the kind of guy you have to scrape off your shoe if you’re unlucky enough to step on him.

But as Ben Shapiro has pointed out in this space, he wasn't fined millions and banned from the NBA for any of that. He was fined and banned for his opinions.

He should not have been fined. He should not have been banned. He has the right to his opinion. Simple as that. Shame him? Why not? Boycott him? Okay. Hate him? Your call. But officially, he should not have been punished in any way.

His words were spoken privately and taped. Let me ask leftists and decent folks alike: whose reputation could survive if all his private words were made public? Not yours, believe me. Not even mine and I'm an absolutely great guy! More importantly, who wants to live in a world where that is the ultimate test of our morality?

Leftists are always calling for a “national conversation on race.” But you can’t have a conversation in which people aren’t allowed to speak their minds. That would be...  well, it would be leftism! And we don’t want that. We really don’t.