There are many irrefutables in this recent scandal, chief among them that Mr. Sterling's remarks concerning the African-American community is reprehensible. However, the mere existence of overwhelming evidence of an egregious character flaw should not serve as a precedent for the unprecedented. By roundly denouncing Mr. Sterling and by attempting to forcibly remove him from his legally owned asset, the NBA is embarking on a dangerous moral hazard by potentially allowing the eviction of property rights under grounds of evidence collected either illegally or unethically. This further raises the question of what is considered "reprehensible" behavior and provokes the ire of black protectionism at the expense of other protected minorities. Finally, the controversy underscores a hegemonic paradigm of "tolerated intolerance," or the subconscious propensity of many Americans to silently share or sympathize, to varying degrees, with the sentiments verbally expressed by Mr. Sterling. The universal denunciation heaped upon the embattled owner may in fact backfire, propping Sterling as a messiah for the propitiation of America's silent racial sinners, and thus redeeming large swathes of corrupt social infrastructure through the avoidance of a limelight now the exclusive domain of one blighted individual.
One of the biggest concerns regarding the NBA's proposed sanctions against Mr. Sterling is the forcible removal of an asset that he has legally acquired and owned for several decades. That the Clippers organization itself will lose sponsorship money, a relatively affluent fan base, and star players, contributors and employees is a given. The NBA has every right to prevent any individual from partaking in any function associated with the league and it has, to its credit, exercised those prerogatives in regards to Mr. Sterling. However, affecting the ownership of a franchise is an altogether different story : a deal is a deal, whether it involved a racist or not.
What's most troubling is that under normal circumstances, an owner of an asset cannot be forcibly removed from his ownership rights unless he has violated a law that nullifies those rights. Under the First Amendment, the right to property cannot be voided simply on the basis of ignorant speech. This is why Mr. Sterling was fined for housing discrimination in a prior federal case but was still allowed to keep the property in question.
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