Okay, first off, let me say that yes, I do understand that this is not, stricty speaking, a First Amendment case. It is an attempt on the part of the NBA to punish one of their owners for speech they disapprove by forcing him from the enjoyment of his legally acquired property.
I’m further guessing that, depending on whether he’s turned into a “don’t give a fuck” geezer, or a “who needs this crap” geezer, he’ll either fight this in court, or he’ll walk away. I’d guess that if he chooses to fight, the NBA will find itself with some major problems in enforcing their judgment, not least of which is that by forcing him into a fire sale of his property, they are depriving him of the ability to get what the team is really worth.
But I wanted to bring up the First Amendment question, because I’m curious just how far people are willing to go.
For instance, the state already punishes speech. In particular, I’m thinking about the so-called “hate crime” laws, which exist at federal, state, and local levels. Basically, if you commit a crime against somebody and keep your mouth shut, you’ll be charged with, and punished for, the simple crime.
But if you utter “hateful” statements in the commission of the same crime, you’ll be charged with a greater crime, and generally be subject to a greater penalty. The difference between the two is your speech (or other expression) during the commission of the crime. And the difference in penalties is the criminal penalty you pay for speech. So, is cases like these, the bottom line is that your speech or expression is not protected by the First Amendment.
If you think that racist or bigoted speech should not be protected by the First Amendment, explain why you think that should be the case.
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