Monday, September 8, 2014

On Ray Rice. . .

Over the summer, an interesting video appeared, showing Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice dragging his now wife from an elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  The reason he was dragging her from the elevator is because she was completely unconscious. Because, it was believed, he knocked her out.

In the intervening weeks after the incident, Ray Rice married the woman he knocked unconscious, and she apologized for her role in the incident, stating that she "provoked" the violent attack.  After what was alleged to be a thorough investigation, the NFL suspended Ray Rice for two games (out of the sixteen that are normally played).  In the meantime, several NFL players were suspended for an entire season (all sixteen games) for using marijuana.  The whole thing left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, and as sports fans, we tried to move on.

Then TMZ released the following video, shot from INSIDE THE ELEVATOR.

Whereas before we could only see the aftermath, we now can see the incident in its entirety.  There are a couple of things that gets me about the video:

1) It appears what started as an argument escalated to violence when Ray Rice stands too close to his wife in the elevator, and she pushes him away with her elbow. If Ray Rice steps away from his wife, who's clearly agitated at this point, the incident is over. Instead, he slaps her, she attacks in retaliation, and he punches her.

2) Rice's reaction to knocking his wife completely unconscious (for several minutes, mind you) is chilling. Let's say you are having a fight with your significant other, and during said fight, you accidentally or purposefully (or instinctively) caused your significant other to be knocked out. How would you react? Most likely, you'd be concerned for your significant other, and call 911 to seek medical attention. This is especially true if, as here, your significant other hit her head on the elevator handrail.

Ray Rice's reaction not to immediately seek medical attention, but rather, was to calmly DRAG HIS WIFE FROM THE ELEVATOR. Seriously.

3) Up until the release of this video, everyone was pretty much on board with the idea that Ray Rice was "defending himself" from his wife. And in fact, the Ravens got Mrs. Rice to "apologize" for her part in the altercation. 

I'm going to let that sink in for a moment. . .waiting. . .waiting. . .Yes, that's right, she felt the need to APOLOGIZE FOR BEING KNOCKED OUT AND DRAGGED FROM AN ELEVATOR.  Of course, the poor woman was so concussed that she probably wouldn't remember the details of that night.

4) Both the NFL and the Atlantic City DA should be ashamed of themselves. Either they saw this video and agreed to let Ray Rice walk with a slap on the wrist, or they didn't see the video (IT HAPPENED IN A CASINO, OF COURSE THERE WAS VIDEO), and decided they didn't need to see it. Ugh.

With the DA, I guess I could make some excuses - juries are fickle, the complaining witness was going to be uncooperative (and probably had no memory of the incident), etc. For the NFL, this is nothing short of a PR disaster. Let's compare - Ray Rice was suspended for two games for violently attacking his fiancee (now wife), then dragging her unconscious body across the floor. Josh Gordon, of the Cleveland Browns, was suspended an entire season for smoking weed. Gotta love the drug war. Oh, and Von Miller, a player for the Denver Broncos, was suspended four games (twice Rice's punishment) for smoking weed even though SMOKING WEED IS LEGAL IN COLORADO.  Gotta love the war on drugs.

Anyway, I'm glad that to see that Rice was cut by the Ravens and then suspended indefinitely by the NFL. It should have happened a lot sooner.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Beyond WTF. . .

For the past several weeks, I've been trying to think of a blog post that fully captures all the events of the past few weeks, but honestly, I can't except to say that a fair number of these stories have felt like stomach punches. The war in Gaza, the invasion of Ukraine (you're not fooling anyone Putin) by Russia, ISIS and the genocide in central Iraq, the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO.  Oh, and now Rick Perry has been indicted for abuse of power (actually, that news is actually happy in a schadenfreude way).

So, all in all, its not just been a what the fuck kind of a month, we've gone well past that. So, let me take a few of these issues and flesh them out for my own sanity.

Death of Robin Williams

As I go down the list, this is the easiest one to categorize - its just sad.  I can't say I was the biggest fan of Robin Williams' movies, but he was easily one of the funniest men ever. From all the accounts I've heard, he was one of the nicest people ever.  And that makes sense because, in my experience, people who go through depression tend to be the nicest and most compassionate people around.  So, his death wasn't a WTF kind of a moment, but a "Ah, fuck" kind of a moment. Like I said, a stomach punch.

Ukraine and ISIS

There's nothing surprising about either the invasion of Ukraine or ISIS' attempts to recreate the Caliphate. Its really just sad.

Gaza and Ferguson

I lump these two stories together because, ultimately, they are about the same thing - right idea, wrong way of doing it. Israel wants to protect itself from Hamas, a terrorist organization.  Good and commendable idea. 1000% on board. To do that, Israel bombs the shit out Gaza, cutting off power, water, kills over a thousand civilians (Hamas killed two civilians), bombs UN buildings, hospitals, and generally makes life deadly for the people of Gaza, who are ALREADY REFUGEES and are prevented by blockades from Israel and Egypt from leaving. Err. . .what? Oh, and the deputy prime minister started to openly call for genocide in Gaza.

Aside from preventing Hamas from killing Israeli civilians, which it seems pretty bad at, what does the destruction of broad swaths of Gaza do for Israel? It doesn't make Gazans less likely to support Hamas (who can cast themselves as "freedom fighters"). It doesn't end the cycle of violence. It doesn't garner Israel greater international support, which is Israel's achilles heel. No, all it has done is piss off the world and the Obama Administration, which is problematic because Israel's economy depends of American foreign aid.

Luckily, there is a ceasefire in effect, and hopefully, that will lead to peace. In the meantime, the Israeli government did itself no favors, and might have even done permanent damage to Israel. That's because Israel, despite its tremendous military, is a small country with limited natural resources. It always has been. So to survive and thrive, Israel has to depend on foreign trade and goodwill. In other words, the biggest threat to Israel isn't Hamas, it's the EU, the US, and the greater international community.

And that's why Hamas has been doing what its been doing - it wants Israel to bomb the shit out of Gaza. It wants thousands of "telegenic dead" (to paraphrase Mr. Netanyahu). Not only does the bombing create a useful recruiting tool, it also isolates Israel from the international community.  At this point, the only country that is regularly backing Israel is the United States, and they're none too happy with Israel right now.

Oh, and by the way, for those anti-Semites out there who now think its cool to unveil your anti-Semitism because some of us have criticisms of the Israeli response to Hamas, FUCK YOU. I want Israel to not just survive but to thrive. I just think Netanyahu's government is a disaster.

The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, also strikes me as one of those, right idea, wrong way of doing it things. Here's what we know: Michael Brown and his friend were a couple of teenagers walking down the middle of a residential street. A police officer with the Ferguson PD spots them and decides to instruct them to use a sidewalk.  Okay, this is a good idea - these kids put themselves at risk and were disrupting traffic.  But in the ensuing altercation, the officer ends up wrestling with Brown, Brown flees from the officer, who then shoots him from 35 feet away. Wait, what?

Now, it has been alleged that Brown had just robbed some cheap cigars from a mini-mart kind of a store.  But, as the Ferguson Police Chief made clear in his statement today, the Police Officer didn't know that. So how does a conversation about jaywalking lead to the death of an unarmed man who was apparently fleeing (or, as the witnesses described, surrendering)?

Naturally, this sort of thing leads to community anger, and some protests. Which leads to the second right idea, wrong execution moment. The Ferguson PD sent out officers to keep and maintain order during the protests.  This is a good idea because protests can turn into riots (which they did on Sunday night). Also, police need to make sure the protesters are safe.

However, the Ferguson PD, along with other departments, did things in the most ass-backwards way possible - they called out the SWAT teams.  This leads to an interesting question - why the fuck does Ferguson, Missouri, a town of 28,000 people, which didn't have a SINGLE HOMICIDE IN 2014 UNTIL MICHAEL BROWN DIED, have a SWAT team? Are there dozens of unreported hostage situations occurring in town? This egged on the protesters, and some began looting.  By Wednesday night, the police - in jungle camouflage (apparently there are jungles in this part of Missouri) - were the ones initiating violence by firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowds. Oh, the police managed to arrest a reporter from the Washington Post for "trespassing" at a McDonald's where the manager was happy to have him there.

So let's go over the fuck-ups, shall we?  Not only did the Ferguson PD not prevent violence and looting, but actually caused violence in the town, and arrested members of the media who write for newspapers that are printed and distributed in the District of Colombia, which is only the place where THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND MOST OF THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA RESIDE. No, I'm sure no one outside of people on Twitter noticed.  It was so bad that the Governor of Missouri had to remove the Ferguson PD from the situation and put the Missouri Highway Patrol in charge.

And here's where we see the entirety of the fuck-up.  In contrast to the aggressive and violent Ferguson PD, the Missouri Highway Patrol calmly intermingled with the locals. They let the locals protest for as long as they wanted, so long as the protests were conducted peacefully.  No one was teargassed, and there were no reports of violence.  The right idea - maintaining order - coupled with the right execution - not being total assholes - lead to good results. Imagine that.

By the way, the Ferguson PD appears to be far from done being assholes - today, for no good reason, they released information that Michael Brown had stolen cheap cigars through what is called a strong-arm robbery (no weapons involved, but physical intimidation used). Whether that is the case or not, it admits that the officer didn't know Brown was involved in any crime at the time of the shooting.  Is the information of the robbery pertinent and/or relevant? Not at this time. Does an attempt at character assassination piss off everyone in Ferguson? Yes.

Look, I get wanting to protect Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown, but any time a jaywalking incident turns into a one-sided gunfight, and an unarmed teenager is shot to death, it's not just bad, it's unforgivable. At minimum, he has be fired.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

F*'ing Bullshit

So I go away for a weekend in Connecticut and while traveling across the country, all hell seems to break loose - the Supreme Court comes down with its decision in Hobby Lobby.  And suddenly, I'm getting emails from people saying, "Phat Jim, where's your opinion on the Hobby Lobby case?" Well, here goes. . .

According to Wikipedia, corporations have existed since Roman times (500 AD or so), and in the one thousand and five hundred years of corporate existence, it wasn't until yesterday that a court in any jurisdiction held that a corporation can have sincerely held religious beliefs. Indeed, Henry Ford was sued by his shareholders for giving corporate money for charity.  So to clarify, a hundred years ago, a corporation giving to charity was controversial.  So, to say that this decision was judicial activism is understating things a great deal.

But there is something even worse about allowing a corporation to have religious beliefs - its allowing corporations to VIOLATE FEDERAL LAW BECAUSE IT CONFLICTS WITH THOSE BELIEFS. Now, keep in mind that if an individual does this - say, a Native American takes peyote as part of a religious ceremony, and fails a drug test as a result - its still deemed a violation of federal law, and the feds can come after the people.  By the way, that's not an outrageous example, but a case that the Supreme Court decided in an opinion written by Scalia.  Did Scalia dissent on the basis that this opinion overturns the reasoning of his earlier opinion? Of course not, because fuck people.

Or rather, fuck women. You see, not only does this opinion COMPLETELY change over a 1000 years of Anglo-American jurisprudence, not only does it give corporations rights individuals do not have (to ignore federal laws it opposes), but the Supreme Court tries to limit the opinion to birth control pills, which are used by virtually every woman in America at some point in their lives. If Hobby Lobby had objected to paying for vaccines, or blood transfusions, or insulin (which is produced by pigs), Hobby Lobby would have lost. Why? Because unlike birth control, the Supreme Court agrees with the science of those medicines.  Birth control, meanwhile, is kinda-sort of-not really believed by Hobby Lobby (more about that later), to cause abortions.  This is not the case - birth control prevents conception.  Regardless, Hobby Lobby can ignore federal law and science because it thinks birth control pills are abortion pills.  And because vaginas are icky, I guess.

By the way, Hobby Lobby's claim that it has a deeply held religious belief is complete and total BULLSHIT.  Until 2010 (before Obamacare required employees to pay for health insurance), it not only provided health insurance, but purchased health insurance that covered birth control.  That's right kids, Hobby Lobby voluntarily purchased health insurance that covered birth control pills.  Which makes sense, given that Hobby Lobby regularly invests in birth control pill manufacturers.

And this isn't some random point. The next step in this case is almost certainly the trial stage (the Supreme Court determined whether the First Amendment is a defense, and now they try it), and so, its not unlikely that upon remand, Hobby Lobby gets its ass kicked.  In other words, crisis this creates is completely avoidable.

So, how do I feel about this decision? Its the kind of awfulness I have come to expect from this Supreme Court.  Get out and vote people. IN ALL ELECTIONS.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Early Thoughts on 2016 - Looking at Hillary Rodham Clinton

Okay, okay, I know its early, but unless something major happens, the general outline of the 2016 Presidential campaign are basically set.  If she decides the run, Hillary Clinton could be the Democratic nominee for 2016. . . .yeah, I can't really pretend that she won't run, or that she won't be the nominee. Clinton had most of her bonafides set in 2008 - and that was BEFORE SHE WAS SECRETARY OF STATE. There isn't a crop of candidates out there from the last Presidential go around to contend with, unlike 2008, and if there is a potential Obama out there (there isn't), Clinton will be smart enough to deal with that person early on.

That said, here are a couple of points that concern me about Clinton's candidacy:

Campaigning: One of the things I heard a lot about Romney was that in person, he was a likable, personable guy who loved his family and all that.  Then we saw the 47% video, and we all learned that Romney is actually a dick.  With Clinton, I hear a lot of the same.  People who meet Clinton like her personally. At this point, she's kind of a tough grandma who'll do shots with you (or send texts while looking totally badass). In fact, I remember when Clinton teared up during a campaign stop in 2008 and talked about wanting what's best for America. Going into that moment, Clinton was pretty well going to lose, and in large part based on that moment, she made it close.

However, once you get Clinton on stage, she's meh. Now, I know its tough to compare Clinton to her husband (who oozes charisma in the way no one else possibly can), but Clinton actually gets worse as a campaigner as time goes on because she's so afraid to make a mistake.  It comes off as fake. Throw in the totally insane amount of misogyny and conservative hate that will be thrown her way, and it's concerning.  She is going to have to go completely against her instincts and get out of her comfort zone. If she can let herself be herself, Clinton will roll over everyone - she's fucking Godzilla. If not. . .

BenghaziWhitewaterMonicaBullshitGate: Here's a fun fact, Maureen Down HATES Hillary Clinton. And a fair number of other media types feel the same way. After Monica, the mainstream media went crazy looking for the woman who would bring down Bill Clinton. It seemed like every week or so the media would pull out some sort of bullshit to hit the Clintons with. And now we have Benghazi. An affair where most of the questions have been asked, and answered, and asked, and answered, and asked, and answered, and asked again. Two years from now, there will still be people who insist that there are still questions about Benghazi (though, what they mean is they don't like the answers). But, I do like Clinton's testimony on the matter:

Flanking: Clinton, like her husband, started her career on the conservative side of the Democratic Party. Like her husband, she supported DOMA, and other anti-gay legislation, as part of the triangulation strategy favored in 1996. Now, while she could and should argue that a lot of the anti-gay legislation was designed short-circuit even worse legislation (DOMA was used to kill an anti-gay marriage amendment), she still has some bonafides with the LGBTQ community to work on.

What's more, Clinton is much more of a hawk than Obama on foreign policy.  She voted to go into Iraq, she supports Israeli settlements, etc.  And that could be a problem depending on who the Republican nominee is.  If Rand Paul is the nominee, I could see him running to Clinton's right on social and economic issues, and then running to her left on foreign policy and maybe drug policy.  He certainly seems to be positioning himself that way. Clinton has to shore up her support on the left. That said, I don't see any other Republican outflanking Clinton.

So, all in all, Clinton is going to face virulent opposition, quite a bit of it will be completely unfair. If she can move past the bullshit, and be herself, Clinton will roll.  If not, she's not going to have a good time.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rest In Peace Mr. Gwynn

This morning came word that Tony Gwynn, who played for the San Diego Padres for 20 years, passed away.  Right now, the internet is full of accolades of Mr. Gwynn, who was not just one of the best hitters ever, but the face of San Diego sports for two decades. As a Padres fan, I had to give my two cents.

The thing about San Diego is that for an older city (founded 1776), it is a relatively young city.  The Native Americans in our fair city were far too hostile for much more than token Spanish presence (they burned Mission San Diego de Alcala, and the Spanish never really rebuilt it; also, good for the Native Americans), the land was too arid for agriculture, and the hills of Julian never held that much gold. Until the 70's, the biggest industry in town was tuna fishing. Then it was the defense industry.  As a result, San Diego really didn't grow into a city until the 1970's and 1980's.  Even then, most of the people living here had come from someplace else.

So, to break through sports-wise in a town where virtually every adult grew up rooting for a non-San Diego team is tough.  Heck, San Diego teams still have problems with that.  But Tony Gwynn did not. He was the face of San Diego sports for two decades. Growing up in the 1980's, virtually every kid had their holy trinity of sports - Tony Gwynn, Dan Fouts, and Magic Johnson. As time went on, some of the trinity members changed - Dan Fouts' popularity got eclipsed by Junior Seau, and Kobe Bryant took over Magic Johnson's spot - but Tony Gwynn remained beloved. 

In my opinion, there are only two Padres that ever came close to taking Tony's place in the trinity - Ken Caminetti and Trevor Hoffman.  Of course, Caminetti's rise was fueled by steroids, something which could never be attributed to Gwynn.  Hoffman came close, but never could eclipse what Tony meant to the Padres. Of the players on the current Padres' roster, sadly, none come close.  

So what does it mean to be in the Trinity? Those were three players who's brilliance was unquestioned. For two solid decades, every kid wanted to be like Tony Gwynn. When Jack Clark badmouthed Tony Gwynn, we all wanted to run him out of town on a rail (and that's why he was traded away). If you wanted to start a fight in San Diego, the best way would be to say "Tony Gwynn sucks!"  Heck, I want to punch myself in the face for even writing that.  Add to his playing greatness that Mr. Gwynn was one of the most humble, honest, and decent human beings in baseball, and well, you can see how he was loved even after his retirement.  He was one of the few people who earned the right to use the f-word as a middle name - as in, "Do you know who I am, I'm Tony Fucking Gwynn!!!" and sound completely justified.* 

All in all, Mr. Gwynn's passing has hit me harder than Jerry Coleman's.  Jerry was an old guy even when I was a young, but Tony. . .he went too soon.  To his family, my condolences.  

*Greg Maddux, one of the best pitchers in his generation, who got everyone out but Tony Gwynn (who owned him completely), referred to Mr. Gwynn as "that fucking Tony Gwynn."  As in, "I did x, and it works on every batter in the game. . .except for the fucking Tony Gwynn."  Don't know where that fits in this post, but its an awesome story.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Random Thoughts: Sports Blogging Edition

Its been a some time since I blogged about anything - sort of a combination of laziness and having other things to do.  Per usual, whenever there are a few stories I want to discuss, throw them together in a longer post. This time, I'm going to stick to sports - more from the law/policy angle than the sports fan angle.  Although, to get that out of the way - Raiders suck!  Anyway, here are my thoughts on a few sports stories:

Donald Sterling Is Selling the Clippers?

The recent reports - and I mean the reports as of this morning - indicate that Sterling has agreed to sell the Clippers, and that is wife is the one who be in charge of the sale. And yes, Sterling is married despite having several public relationships with other, younger, women.  Per Bill Simmons' twitter feed, the estimates for sale price is somewhere around $2 BILLION.  Given that Sterling bought the Clippers for $13 million, that's a hefty chunk of change for someone to get for any investment. 

Now here's where I'm somewhat surprised. Sterling is over 80 years old, not strapped for cash (already is a multibillionaire), and loves owning the Clippers. Like a lot of owners of sports teams, this is his toy. He gets to be one of 30 guys in the WORLD who own an NBA team. Indeed, the whole reason Sterling might $2 billion for the Clippers is precisely because an NBA ownership is so rare.  And its for that reason that to Sterling owning the Clippers was priceless. So, I thought that financial considerations would mean nothing to him. At the same time, the utility of owning the Clippers has probably been damaged by Sterling's pariah status. Still, I assumed that Sterling would believe that he could simply ride out the damage while suing the NBA.  I'm glad I was wrong.

College Athletics

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a fantastic panel discussion on the NCAA and college athletics, sponsored by the Enright Inn of Court - a lawyer's group here in San Diego.  On the panel was Ramogi Huma, President of the College Athletes Player Association (the guys who were behind the unionization at Northwestern), DJ Gay (point guard for some of SDSU's best basketball teams), Jason Carter - former player at Texas A&M and former NFLer, now head coach of La Jolla High, Jim Sterk - current Athletics Director of San Diego State University, and John Brockington - who played for Ohio State in the NFL for the Packers.  The question was, does the NCAA exploit collegiate athletes.

While I expected Mr. Huma to attack the NCAA (he did), and I expected Mr. Sterk to advocate for the NCAA (he also did), what surprised me was the depth of the disenchantment that DJ Gay and Jason Carter (both of whom were more recent athletes in college) had with the current system.  As Mr. Huma laid into the NCAA time and time again, Mr. Carter and Mr. Gay mostly agreed with him.  Meanwhile, Jim Sterk looked increasingly uncomfortable on the panel.  

It was also interesting to see that the experiences of John Brockington were completely different from the experiences of Mr. Huma, Mr. Carter, and Mr. Gay.  In his era, practices were limited, and guys would work over summers to earn pocket money for the upcoming year (like everyone else does).  But recently, of course, college athletes aren't allowed to have side jobs, and spend more and more time working out or practicing.  As a result, they can't take the majors they may want, and they can't be part of the campus life that makes college so special.

Of more interest was the demands of Mr. Huma - not direct cash payments, per se, but basic guarantees like injury coverage (post-collegiate career), that scholarships continue after the playing days are over (so athletes can finish their degrees after their eligibility is over), and allow players to reap benefits with their schools over the sale of their likenesses (right now, the NCAA maintains that it owns the rights to athletes' likenesses in perpetuity). 

Now again, Huma is supposed to be an advocate and push for reforms - that's his job - but what surprised me was again, how much guys like Gay and Carter agreed with what Huma said. If I had to guess, the resentment towards the NCAA runs deep.  

And, let's face it, the NCAA has done a lot to ensure resentment exists. NCAA athletes are paid in scholarships, but have schedules that limit their ability to get an education. Their room and board is taxed by the government, and doesn't cover all their food costs. All the while, collegiate athletics is a multiBILLION DOLLAR industry. If they get hurt, there's no guarantee that the school will honor the scholarship.  Even if it does, insurance only covers the athlete so long as he/she is in school.

The more I think on it, the more I think that there was no way Sterk had a chance yesterday.  The system is utterly broken.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Examining the First Amendment

Recently, there has been quite a bit of consternation about the First Amendment and the consequences of espousing unpopular views.  Simply put, a lot of what is said is nonsense, and the webcomic XKCD put it best in the following cartoon:

In other words, while the First Amendment preserves your right to be an asshole as far as the government is concerned, it does not prevent other people from putting up with your shit.  If you decide to openly flaunt a loaded firearm around some kids in Little League to show how much of a big man you are, you are an asshole.  If you tell your assistant (allegedly mistress) that she can't bring black men with her to you basketball games, you are an asshole.  If you insist on grazing your cattle on federal lands without ever paying (at great expense to taxpayers), or insist, at threat of gunpoint, that you can ride your ATV over sensitive Native American burial sites, you are an asshole.  And, if you espouse anti-gay remarks, don't be surprised if you are suddenly shunned because, after all, you are an asshole.

You might think, "hey, what about my free speech rights?" Well, let's look at the text of the First Amendment, m'kay?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Notably, the First Amendment prohibits Congressional action, which, by extension, prohibits action by the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch (the other branches of government). Notice it doesn't affect State or Local governments - that's covered by the 14th Amendment.  Also notice that freedom of speech is listed after the freedom of religion.  Why is that?  Because we, as Americans, have the freedom of association.  We can choose to associate with whomever we want.  That right applies to people and corporations like HGTV and the NBA.

And by the way, a quick aside on Donald Sterling - a lot of people seem to be upset about the fact the Sterling was bounced out of the NBA for a private conversation where Mr. Sterling espoused racist views. While I can somewhat appreciate that concern, we need to remember the following: 1) Donald Sterling has acted on his racist views in his real estate business; and 2) the players were going to boycott the playoffs until Sterling was banned for life.  And guess what, NBA players have the right to do so because just as the Government can't attack Mr. Sterling for espousing racist views, it also can't force the NBA players to associate with him.  But don't cry for Sterling too much - he will litigate this forced sale of his franchise to the bitter end, and even if he loses, he is currently estimated to make over a BILLION dollars from the sale.

Thus, while every American has a God-given right to be an asshole without criminal repercussions, it is also the God-given right of every American to choose not to associate with assholes.  So, to those of you who would like to avoid becoming a pariah, I would offer the following advice: STOP BEING AN ASSHOLE.