Because free speech aficionados like us are attracted to those subjects where even angels fear to tread, let’s talk about Donald Sterling.
The first thing one wants to say is that the guy is a slob. Indeed, there’s evidence that he’s been a slob for quite some time. Read, for instance (if you have the stomach for it) an account of the 2003 lawsuit filed against his former mistress–not his more recent one, V. Stiviano, but an earlier flower child named Alexandra Castro.
Indeed, one would be willing to wage a fair amount of money on the proposition that when Sterling passes away, he will do so unwept by anyone. Whatever joys and beauties this life offers up, Sterling has had, and abused, all of them.
But the question that has been on my mind is this: Is Sterling a slob because of the statements he made, or did he make those statements because he’s a slob? There is, it seems, a difference worth noting, especially at a time when, because of the growing lack of privacy, anything (including what one might consider the most intimate and confidential conversation) may find its way into widespread distribution.
Consider, for instance, Google glasses, or the even more worrisome prospect of video camera-embedded contact lenses! What, then, would prevent the recording, editing, and uploading – to sites like Google’s YouTube – of conversations that were recorded and edited, in or out of context, of which the speakers were unaware?
Does there exist any person in the world who has not said something in confidence, or without reflection, or just for effect on the hearer, that he or she would not want bruited about?
As stressed at the beginning, none of this is said in defense of Donald Sterling. He is of no interest or consequence, whatever becomes of him. But as reported, on CNN, by First Amendment lawyer Mark Randazzo:
Isn’t it bad enough that the National Security Agency can spy on all of us? How can we complain when we condone giving our friends the ability to do worse – perhaps just to try to destroy us?
The opinions expressed above are those of the writer and not of The Media Institute, its Board, contributors, or advisory councils.