has released audio of the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers
franchise, Donald Sterling, making racist comments in a
conversation with a former girlfriend (click above to listen).
Gillespie inadvertently puts his finger on the reason why his ultimate conclusion – that Sterling should be “fired” for his remarks – is dead wrong, especially by Libertarian standards. Sterling is not an employee of the team, he is the owner of it. It is his property, and as such, supposedly sacred and inviolable under Libertarian doctrine. As is freedom of speech and expression.
So Gillespie finds himself in the odd position of advocating that the use of a man’s property be taken from him because of the way he expressed himself – and moreover, via private expression that was not intended for public consumption. (I don’t know how much difference that makes to the argument, but I note it anyway).
Oh, don’t get me wrong: I understand that there is undoubtedly something in the agreements Sterling has with the league that allows them to punish him in this way, (in a presumably freely-agreed on contract) but the question for Gillespie is not regarding the legal intricacies of the agreement, but the basic situation: Destroying a man’s use of his property over opinions he expressed.
Now, I’ve annoyed several of my Libertarian readers over my staunch support of civil rights laws that allow equal access to all Americans to employment, housing, goods and services, but I also staunchly support freedom of expression, and have many times gone on record as saying that the only cure for speech you don’t like is more speech. Anything else is the initiation of aggression, force or fraud, as a response to speech, and Libertarians aren’t supposed to like that.
If it can be shown that Sterling has broken the law and discriminated against employees or others based on race, then I would support the appropriate penalties. But not for this.
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