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Sun, Aug. 18

Letter: First Amendment rights were not violated


This letter is in response to Mr. Steele's letter of May 14th: "Does Political Correctness Trump the First Amendment?"...

So in defense of racist remarks made by Donald Sterling, we hear the hissing of the Tea Party as they slither in yet another conspiracy theory: that Mr. Sterling is some kind of victim whose First Amendment rights have been violated and that liberals are out to undermine the same said amendment.

Pardon me, Mr. Steele, but has the government arrested Mr. Sterling for his remarks?  Because in many countries, one can get thrown in jail for remarks that are deemed "politically incorrect.

Unfortunately for Mr. Sterling, the First Amendment does not guarantee immunity from the private consequences of stupid or libelous speech.  Many have been sued in civil court for libel (for which the First Amendment is no defense) and by definition, racist remarks are libel against an entire race.

In this debacle, it might turn out that Mr. Sterling will be forced to sell his team.  But if that happens, it will be a decision made by 29 of his conservative, billionaire,  "one-percenter," peers and definitely not by the government!  Such an action could be legal based on a morality clause in the PRIVATE contract that Mr. Sterling VOLUNTARILY signed when he bought the team.  Morality clauses have been utilized by the entertainment industry for nearly a century--decades before the term "PC" was ever even coined.

With every right comes responsibility and everyone should be responsible for their own speech.  I have the right to criticize Mr. Sterling's remarks.  I have the right to boycott the NBA if I choose to do so.  But to argue that in so doing, I would really have a secret agenda to undermine the First Amendment is a ridiculous stretch. If I did boycott, it would be solely for the sake of common decency and manners in our diverse and beloved society--not because I'm against the First Amendment!

You write: "I think...political correctness...has gone too far and clearly deserve(s) to be refuted by a Supreme Court ruling."  Sir! There is no "PC law" in the books for the Supreme Court to refute! Political Correctness is not a law, it's an expression in itself.  Are you suggesting that the Supreme Court should rule that the "leftists", as you call them, should be prohibited from reacting to Mr. Sterling's remarks?  Is freedom of speech a one-way street in your book?

One could blame the press for what has befallen Mr. Sterling, but, oh yeah, there's that pesky little clause in the First Amendment that guarantees the press's free expression as well.

Finally, it is extremely noteworthy that Mr. Sterling himself has not claimed that his First Amendment rights have been violated. Why? Because they simply haven't. The government has taken no action whatsoever against Mr. Sterling for his remarks.

Fear not, Mr. Steele, the First Amendment is still alive, well, and doing its job. That is, as long as you do not get your Supreme Court wish.

Drew Desmond

Prescott Valley


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