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Is the thought police going too far?
May 12th, 2014
05:32 PM ET

Is the thought police going too far?

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling says he's sorry but feels he was "baited" to make racist comments, nearly two weeks after the NBA fined him and banned him for life for his remarks in a recorded conversation.

The recording triggered a firestorm that led to Sterling's lifetime ban from the NBA and a $2.5 million fine. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has asked the other 29 owners to force Sterling, the longest-tenured owner in the league, to sell the Clippers.

Within the same few weeks, another scandal hit headlines.

Not long after Michael Sam became the first openly gay player drafted to the NFL, some made clear his reaction was not welcome.

Shortly after learning of his selection by phone, a visibly emotional Sam turned to his boyfriend and kissed him.

"I'm sorry but that Michael Sam is no bueno for doing that on national tv," former Super Bowl champion Derrick Ward tweeted.

"Man U got little kids lookin at the draft. I can't believe ESPN even allowed that to happen," he added.

Ward is now reportedly receiving death threats. Are people no longer to express their opinions, even if they're bigoted and controversial?

At 6:30pm ET Van Jones and Newt Gingrich debate on Crossfire.

We want you to weigh in: Should fellow NBA owners force Donald Sterling to sell his team?

Vote by tweeting Yes or No using #Crossfire or comment on our Facebook post. View results below or through our Poptip results page.

soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. cavedave65

    In order to reform our corrupt Western "values" we need to eradicate the kind of thinking expressed by Mr. Sterling. Yes, some "rights" may be lost, but think of how great our country will be once we have eliminated his kind from our midst.

    May 13, 2014 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  2. Ted

    Is the thought police going too far?

    No, but the grammar police aren't going far enough.

    May 13, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  3. Sam Iam

    I Find The Color Green Disgusting... That Is My Personal Opinion & Choice. When I Share My Opinion It Will Offend Someone Who Likes Green. Does That Make Me A Bully??? I Think Queer Kissing Is Disgusting...

    May 13, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Reply
    • dougwhite659

      Thinking the color green is good or bad is your opinion. I can respond by calling you a spectrum bigot, but of course no one will care because no one is actually harmed by your opinion in this case. When you say that homosexuals are disgusting, those are human beings you are talking about. you are hurting someone who has done nothing to you. Do you find handicapped people disgusting too? Should we be OK with that if you do? Are Muslim women in traditional garb disgusting to you, should we be OK with you thinking that? The deal is this: If you have an opinion that is derogatory or hurtful to someone who has never done anything to you, you should keep it to yourself. If you don't you WILL be judged on your opinion. It is YOU who are forcing us to choose who to support...a guy who never did anything harmful to anyone, and who has never said anything bad about you...or someone who wants to let the world know that he has judged another person as 'disgusting'...someone he has never met, on the basis of that person showing affection to another person. Of course we're going to take his are pretty clearly being a pretty 'disgusting' excuse for a human being....

      May 13, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  4. chris schoon

    ARE the thought police going too far. I.e., should be are, not is. Or would ya say: "Is the police here to arrest me?" I mean, c'mon.

    May 13, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  5. 2_indy1600

    Just for the record, calling people morons and racists IS the thought police in action. Didn't go throught the civil rights era in 1960's to be called racist when my vision for all people is equality.
    "Only the educated are free."
    Epictetus Discourses, 2nd c.

    May 13, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Reply
    • Truth police

      No indy. Calling you a moron and a racist is the truth police in action. See your own racist post below. And by your other posts we KNOW you are a moron.

      May 15, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  6. Reed

    The media does not report "news" it is only a pack of frothing, insane pit-bulls.

    And I will never watch the race-driven NBA or NFL. They can both go to hell.

    May 13, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  7. Randy

    Is the grammar teachers doing a poor job?

    May 13, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  8. Dan

    Meh... companies that drum out or outright fire whistleblowers get less flak than this... and I'm supposed to think that this is the worst abuse of free speech by a private organization?

    May 13, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  9. Sarah Ramirez

    It's gotten to the point to where I actually feel bad for Donald Sterling. There is something wrong with this country when black people can call whites and latinos racist names but we can't say anything in return. Who cares about injustices from the past when they are currently happening today! Whites, Asians and Latinos all need to stand up against this hypocritical censorship.

    May 13, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  10. Lee Ann

    It's possible the maximum fine of $2.5 million will prevent the forced sale of the team, since selling the team could cost the loss of millions or even billions of dollars to the owner (regardless of what the owner originally paid for the team and what the owner could stand to profit). And if the owner was removed and later in court it was found to be breach of contract by the league then there could be treble damages which would make the league accountable for paying 3x the damages.

    May 13, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  11. Margo

    I read these comments about Sterling and Johnson and I can only conclude that there are a lot of people in this country that have gone stock raving mad and no longer have a brain in their head. There is no public decency anymore. There is no sense of respect. Dignity has completely vanished. And those who make crazy, stupid, and prejudicial remarks – don't they realize how badly it reflects upon them and can only do themselves harm?

    May 13, 2014 at 1:21 pm | Reply
    • Shane

      Stock raving mad is what happens to Wall Street when they receive trillions of dollars of taxpayer's money for free, which makes the rest of us go stark raving mad.

      May 13, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  12. John bell

    This goes to show how our society is so hypocritical. Shaq intentionally goes on social media and insults a boy with disabilities posting pictures and makeing fun...This was published to everyone with intent to make fun of someone whom he feels better than...that is a bigot. Where were the continuous Hannity and Steven A Smith reports on how repugnant and malicious that was. It seems that the only minority/disability group that gets action is the African American group. Not to mention the fact that the NBA will likely not give the same punishment to players as they say Nig*er, Bit*h, or Fag*t in the locker rooms or while out in public. Thats right Steven Smith... thats "our word". Really, is that the equallity that is sought after. Furthermore, I do think that Sterlings comments about black people show his underlining feeling toward minorities, but I don't think they were racist. He clearly says, its OK for me to be around black people, but not you.... Thats dumb, but not racist. It will be a shame if they force him to sell. The player work for the NBA, they don't run it.... they are under contract to play, it they don't play then they are breaching contract and the NBA should act accordingly to players in violation on contract...but they won't... these hypocrites won't do anything that may cause them to look bad, even if its not doing whats right.

    May 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Reply
  13. Chuck

    Where is the outcry over the lack of white players?

    May 13, 2014 at 11:43 am | Reply
    • No outcry needed

      White players can play if they are good enough. Is that too hard to understand?

      May 13, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Reply
      • 2_indy1600

        So by your faulty reasoning, black men can own their own when they're good enough?

        May 13, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
      • No outcry needed

        @indy – Yes anyone can own a team if they can afford it. Is that what you're asking? It's hard to understand jibberish.

        May 14, 2014 at 5:15 pm |

    Is the thought police going too far?

    DUH!!! Of course.

    May 13, 2014 at 11:21 am | Reply
  15. guest

    well, if anything sterling makes it crystal clear why there is such an outcry about the lack of black team owners. NBA players make a lot of money, but it is peanuts compared to the money sterling is making, and if anyone has a bad year, you can be sure they are gone, one of the least secure occupations ever. Obviously it is not even close to slavery in a traditional sense, but it is pretty sick that in order to play professional basketball, black people are making billions for people that absolutely hate their guts, and must perform at their peak at all times or immediately be canned.

    I do think sterling should sell his team, but he should do it himself to show he does have at least a little bit of class, and he should do it without making further profit off of the contributions made to the success of the team by african american players. I would totally support a lawsuit from his players if he tries to retain the team for hostile work conditions, and hopefully is taken to the cleaners and loses everything.

    May 13, 2014 at 10:20 am | Reply
    • Guest

      Sir or Mam, you cannot call or even remotely consider any analogy where professional athletes are slaves. Slavery was a horrible scar on humanity as a whole and people were property. In one year 95% of professional athletes make more than a middle class family does in a decade. Last time we all have jobs to make the people above us money, unless you work for yourself. Slavery is unspeakable, racism is horrendous, but professional sports is nothing more than entertainment.
      -Die hard sports for the last 25 years.

      May 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Reply
  16. kurt

    Keep in mind that professional sports teams are franchises.

    What that means is that in the case of the NBA, the other owners have a right to disenfranchise another owner who's actions are hurting their collective business. Stirling could still run a professional basketball team... but it would not be an NBA franchise or play other NBA teams.

    This isn't about "thought police"... it's about business. Stirlings actions are making him bad for business for the NBA... and the other owners do have the power to kick him out.

    The same is true for employees of a NFL franchise. If you make statements that hurt the business of your employer, they are allowed to take actions to protect their business... up to and including terminating your employment.

    A NFL player or NBA owner can make whatever statements they feel like. But that does't mean that those statements don't have real world consequences. I am legally allowed to tell my boss I think he's a jerk... but he can still fire me for it. I'm not going to go to jail for my words, but I can lose my job.

    Some people simply don't know what freedom of expression means. You CAN say what you like, but that freedom doesn't mean you can't be called out, shamed or even fired because of those statements.

    May 13, 2014 at 9:14 am | Reply
    • Swami

      One of the rare informed comments here.
      At this point it doesn't matter if Sterling personally went to Africa and rescued the girls in Nigeria. He's been marked. The emotions are up. Sports is a business, and that business is emotional. There is no value in watching a bunch of millionaires playing a game, other than emotion. Mess with that emotion, and you mess with the value, and that costs people real money. So yes, there is a real economic reason for the other owners to force him out.

      As they say: Nothing personal, it's just business.

      May 13, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Reply
      • Brooke

        Actually, I would home that if Stirling did rescue the girls in Nigeria, all would be forgiven. I would put up with being offended if he did some real good with his power and money.

        May 13, 2014 at 6:16 pm |

    He keeps digging a deeper grave. This guy must be a Guns Over People teatard. Foot in mouth sickness.

    May 13, 2014 at 6:02 am | Reply
    • Swami

      Oops! He's a Democrat, with a long history of supporting liberal causes, and the NAACP was about to give him a THIRD award! (NAACP gave him Humanitarian Award in 2008 and a President's Award in 2009, but rescinded their current lifetime award.)
      If you were a smart person, you'd verify that what I said is true (don't trust an online stranger, not even me) and once verified, you'd review your own prejudices, and wonder how and why you went so wrong.

      Clue time: What you THINK you know about the Tea Party, and what they are really all about, are two very different things.

      May 13, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Reply
      • Josef

        While Donald Sterling has often given donations to Democrats, he has been registered as a Republican since 1998.

        May 13, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
  18. 2_indy1600

    Call me a bigot, and I'm sure someone will, but why should a business composed of black athletes be managed, owned, or otherwise controlled by white people? Isn't this what we have colleges and business degrees for? Make a degree mandatory for athletes so they can take care of their own show. Kinda like the n-word: clean your own house, and run your own teams. This is the land of opportunity, not the old south.

    May 12, 2014 at 10:47 pm | Reply
    • No

      No. You're a racist and a moron. But keep posting, maybe you're a bigot too.

      May 13, 2014 at 9:31 am | Reply
      • 2_indy1600

        Knew you wouldn't disasspoint. Just how is a business degree going to hurt someone making so much money, when exactly ONE black man owns onlly 40% of ONE sports team? Judge on.....

        May 13, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
      • Reed

        He's a bigot, too.

        NFL and NBA players are racists, and maybe they should remember who pays for most of the tickets to watch them – whites.

        May 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
      • No

        @indy – Um what?

        May 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
    • MF

      I'm not sure you understand how anything works.

      May 13, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  19. Hector Slagg

    Aw, well,
    No danger of most posters here. Most of 'em can't think for themselves. They need their nanny to do the heavy lifting.

    May 12, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Reply
    • The US Dept Of Defense

      The US DOD announces a new weapon available if hostile aliens try to take over the Earth. The DOD will allow Palin voters to "mind meld" with the aliens. The aliens' heads will immediately implode caused by the huge vacuum.

      May 13, 2014 at 9:28 am | Reply
      • smr413

        Palin voters have already "mind melded" with aliens.

        May 13, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
      • Reed

        Looks like you just defined this blog as fit only for degenerate morons.

        May 13, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
      • See

        @Reed – See some of the Palin voter (indy) as examples.

        May 15, 2014 at 9:34 am |
  20. Henry

    People have every right to voice their opinions, even bigoted opinions. Then others have every right to voice their opinions of the bigoted opinions. Threats are out of line during any discussion, but expressing opinions in not now, and has never been, without consequences whether social, political or financial. Even billionaires aren't exempt from having to pay a price when they say or do stupid (yet non-criminal) things in this world.

    May 12, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Reply
    • Reed

      It is a "crime" to steal someone's property (take it without their permission.)

      In your lunatic race-driven world, nothing matters but skin color, right?

      Murder, war, robbery, rape, who cares? Nothing matters but race, right?

      May 13, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Reply
      • dougwhite659

        Duhhhhhh... yes it is a crime to steal someone's property, but no is is even remotely talking about stealing anything you clown. Sterling signed the NBA franchise agreement, in which it CLEARLY states that he can be forced to SELL his team if 75% of owners wish to have him ousted. Only a complete, utter clown would use the word stealing to describe that.

        May 13, 2014 at 5:43 pm |

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