I’ve been stewing over this for a while and thought I’d finally post it to see if anyone else is feeling odd about this.
Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team was taped without his knowledge by a third party while he was talking informally to his girlfriend, who seems to have asked the third party to do the taping.
There are many things wrong with this picture: married man with girlfriend in public, old dude with young girlfriend, offensive comments caught on tape, and more. But, the one aspect of this that bothers me the most and that few are commenting on is this: Donald Sterling may be a less than wonderful person but that doesn’t make it right to record him without his knowledge and then share that recording publicly.
How can the very same people complain about what the NSA is reported to be doing with our phone calls then condone citizen bugging? Then there’s the other contradiction: we don’t see the folks who are going after Sterling also going after rap musicians for their use of racist and sexist language.
Hitler Youth and the Stasi ratted out people who were less than “pure” but isn’t that what the political correctness movement coupled with social media and a dumbed down traditional media is doing to Sterling?
My guess is that quite a few people would be “outed” as racist if they were taped in an informal conversation without their knowledge. Okay, Sterling owns a basketball team in a league and sport with a majority of black players so he ought to be held to a higher personal standard. But, from what I’ve read, his taped views are nothing new, he’s said things like this before. So, the very players who work for him and make millions signed those contracts knowing that the owner of their team was not the most politically correct individual.
When one strips things of context (140 characters, short tape recordings, video surveillance sans sound) and adds in social media can we have the equivalent of a lynch mob and this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the internet get it wrong and hurt people who ought not be hurt.
We ought not condone citizen taping and bugging because Sterling, as outed, seems like a less than wonderful guy. These ends don’t justify these means.