As reported on CNN, First Amendment Attorney Mr. Randazza Gives His Opinion
NBA basketball owner story and First Amendment
- Marc J. Randazza: Donald Sterling’s First Amendment rights weren’t violated in scandal
- Government isn’t punishing speech, he says, but Sterling’s ideas failed in marketplace
- He says problem was recording of Sterling may have been illegal, leaking it morally wrong
- Randazza: This could happen to any of our private conversations today and it’s chilling
Editor’s note: Marc J. Randazza is a Las Vegas-based First Amendment attorney and is the managing partner of the Randazza Legal Group. He is licensed to practice in Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts and Nevada. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
(CNN) — This past week, my inbox blew up with e-mails asking whether Donald Sterling’s First Amendment rights were violated in the uproar over the Los Angeles Clippers owner’s racist remarks about black people. After all, he was simply expressing his views, however unpopular.
While he did have some rights violated, his First Amendment rights remain intact. The First Amendment protects you from the government punishing you because of your speech. The NBA is a private club, and it can discipline Sterling all it wants.
What about the chorus of criticism? Are we all violating his First Amendment rights by criticizing him? We are punishing him for his speech.
Nope. The First Amendment does not insulate you from criticism. In fact, that’s the First Amendment in action. That is how the marketplace of ideas works. We float our ideas in the marketplace, and we see which idea sells.
Most everyone would agree that Sterling’s ideas fail in the marketplace of ideas. Nevertheless, I reluctantly stand on Sterling’s side today. What happened to him may have been illegal and wasmorally wrong.
Start with illegal. In California, you can’t record a conversation without the knowledge or consent of both parties. The recording featuring Sterling and V. Stiviano may be the result of a crime. Once she gathered this information, someone leaked it (she denies it was her) — and it went viral. This is where I think things went morally wrong.
We all say things in private that we might not say in public. Sometimes we have ideas that are not fully developed — we try them out with our closest friends. Consider it our test-marketplace of ideas. As our ideas develop, we consider whether to make them public. Should we not all have the freedom to make that choice on our own?
Bigotry a symptom of generational divide?
The Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy made his own stupid and bigoted statements, and he’s been nationally pilloried, too — but he chose to make those statements to the world. He deserves every ounce of obloquy heaped upon him.
But does Sterling? Think about what his public character execution means.
It means that we now live in a world where if you have any views that are unpopular, you now not only need to fear saying them in public, but you need to fear saying them at all — even to your intimate friends. They might be recording you, and then that recording may be spread across the Internet for everyone to hear.
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 closest friends the ability to do worse — perhaps just to try and destroy us.
In the novel “1984,” George Orwell wrote of the Telescreen, a device that beamed information into the home but that also spied on people constantly. Even if we were to stop the NSA in its tracks, would we still now live in a world where the Telescreen watches us? Only instead of an oppressive government installing it in our apartments, it is conveniently placed in the hands of our dear friends.
The Sterling story is not that we found a bigot and dragged him to the gallows in the middle of the marketplace of ideas. The Sterling story is about how there is no more privacy. We live in a world where you can share your intimate photos with your lover, and they will wind up on a “revenge porn” website.
We live in a world where our intimate conversations will be recorded and blasted to billions of listeners. We live in a world where, say a gold digger can spy on her sugar daddy, and the world says that the creepy old guy is the bad guy.
Don’t get me wrong. Sterling does seem to be a bad person. But sometimes the bad person is also the victim, and he stands in for us. As you applaud Stiviano for bringing the racist old man’s views to light, consider if it were you speaking to a woman friend in what you thought was a private conversation.
Do we now live in a world where we can trust nobody? Where there is no privacy? In this story, there are two villains. Sterling represents the bad old days. But Stiviano’s behavior represents the horrifying future. Shouldn’t we condemn the complete breakdown of privacy and trust at least as loudly as we condemn some old man’s racist blathering?
WE AGREE WITH THIS FIRST AMENDMENT ATTORNEY.
PD Unfortunately, what we are seeing these days on TV, Facebook, U tube and Internet, is simply people who act like AR people– but it’s all about jumping on the bandwagon, taking the side of the ones complaining, and then making them the “good” guys, no matter how it happened.
Put out ONE EMOTIONALLY-LADEN COMMENT, SUCH AS:
1. So and so hates black people, hispanics, jewish people!
2. so and so hates Muslims and Obama+Terrorists!
3. so and so eats meat, hunts animals, and likes fur! We hate him!!
4. so and so is an animal abuser, HSUS said so, so pile on! Let’s hate him!!
5. so and so is a KKK member and loves White Power!
6. so and so SELLS ANIMALS FOR A PROFIT– it came from a commercial kennel and it should be ILLEGAL!! Let’s all hate them and protest by throwing blood on them, and blocking the customers!!
7. so and so is selling, displaying or owning PM dogs and factory raised cats!! We ALL need to hate such people and make laws to make it all illegal !!
Remember–the media, the news and HSUS EXIST for obtaining stories that they think people will rush to talk about, want to hate people, and then HSUS leaps upon the top of the heap for DONATIONS…… there is no difference because HSUS ASPCA and all ARs that tell the world that SELLING “non shelter” animals is a crime (which is way way off base) —- but breeders are usually just too scared or too elitist to want to really fight back— until recently………the APHIS infiltration by HSUS and outlawing of sales of puppies nationwide (except if from shelter, rescue or a breeder with less than 5 intact animals) is nearly unbelievable—and people are RUSHING to PASS SUCH LAWS.
The point is this: if someone says they hate anything in their own home, they have every right to say it. We don’t need to agree or like it, this is the USA and the guy with the Clippers may have black players who are willing to be paid to play at a $$$ salary. IF THEY want to quit their jobs they can. IF THEY want to hate the owner they can. NBA teams have their OWN constitution.
Whereas the ARs trample OUR rights because they involve the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES– NOT SOME PRIVATE CLUB! And we have the right to despise those who use deception to get rid of people and businesses that are not illegal, but because HSUS AR and HOLLYWOOD make it illegal!! THINK PEOPLE, THINK……..SMARTEN UP BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. This is not a new concept. HSUS and ARs have been working on this for more than 2 decades.
ALL breeders and sellers must stand together because without that unity, both big, medium and small businesses will LOSE, and HSUS and ARs will have not only done it despite being a small fragment of society– but… because you let them do it. Blame yourselves when you remain fragmented, and not as a united front. Owners, sellers, breeders, business owners and the pet trade should not bow down to AR nonsense. Especially now, when much is at stake.