Getting it right but missing the whole picture: the coverage of NBA Los Angeles Clippers owner Don Sterling’s racist remarks

Yes, we can say with near-certainty that Los Angeles Clippers basketball team owner Don Sterling is a racist. You don’t even have to believe that the audio tape published by TMZ is in fact Sterling talking (but it sure does sound like him); there have been other lawsuits alleging discrimination, such as the 2009 wrongful termination lawsuit by the Clippers’ general manager, African-American Elgin Baylor, who claimed that Sterling said he wanted the team to be composed of “poor black boys from the South and a white head coach” (the suit was later dropped), and, that same year, the settlement of a Justice Department lawsuit alleging discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (this article provides a good picture of the Slumlord Billionaire), which was the largest housing discrimination settlement ever obtained by the Justice Department. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But this latest example has had the effect of focusing attention on Sterling’s entire racist oeuvre, along with the question of the scope of legal and moral responsibility to the public that a sports team and a league might have.

Predictably, politics has entered it, with some Republican pundits trying to confuse and defuse the Cliven Bundy issues by tying the two racists together to cancel them out, shouting that Democrats are keeping quiet about Sterling’s racism because he’s a Democrat! Democrat pundits shout: no, wait, Sterling’s a Republican! Others chime in: no, wait, he contributes to both parties!

This issue has nothing to do with partisan politics or Continue reading

Equal opportunity offense: Washington Redskins, a humor parody that wasn’t, and #hashtagactivism

updated 5/28 re: Native Americans: As I said earlier….

Slate’s Dave Weigel wrote today that If you managed to avoid the Internet last night, you missed a crash course in hashtag activism.” Yes, I did. I had better things to do, like declaring a news-free night and nostalgically leafing through some of my food porn cookbook collection. (We’ll talk about that another time.)

But today I’ve got nothing better to do than to vent my spleen on trivia. (Well, actually, that’s not true. I have a stack of things-to-do that are carefully leaned up against each other in dynamic isometric nonmovement. If I moved one, another would demand attention…then another…and another…and eventually the whole stack would vanish – poof! – and then I would have to wander aimlessly, searching for purpose  and meaning, or finally start binge-watching The Newsroom. –Wait! I can put that on the to-do stack. The pressure’s back on; I feel better already.)

So, what’d I miss? Something something Washington Redskins name offensive; something something foundation Native Americans; something Colbert parody; Suzy somebody-or-other gets offended, gets her #HASHTAG up, gets either interviewed or ignored (start at 32:00) then gets really offended; something something #MOREHASHTAG #takingittothetwitterstreets; people getting all #tweetdefensive with their mile-wide and inch-deep #USELESSHASHTAGOUTRAGE and racist/sexist hate, rapeand death threats; and…um…what were we tweeting about again? Continue reading