I really should say something about outrage-fest that has mostly concluded over in the NBA and its environs. Clippers owner Donald Sterling got himself banned from NBA games and practices for life, and was fined 2.5 million dollars, because he managed to insinuate himself onto some audio, the playing of which audio proved to the world that he was in fact a racist jerk, not to mention a bounder and cad. It is difficult to summon up any sympathy for that kind of guy, and so why bother? No sympathy at all, at least not from this quarter. The fact that he is a big donor Democrat just made the whole thing a little bit too delicious.
But wait . . . there are some lessons.
There are still at least two observations to be made about the whole affair. Let us leave Sterling, whose character isn’t, out of it for a minute. The first point is what Mark Cuban noted — that this in fact is a very slippery slope. Suppose, in a grand thought experiment, we substitute somebody else in for Sterling. Let’s make it an evangelical family man, true blue to his wife, faithful church attender, and a man who donated $10,000 toward the passage of Prop 8 a few years ago, the anti same-sex mirage measure. Can anyone around here envisage a scenario (within a year or two, at our current pace) where the same thing could happen? The only ingredient necessary, it seems, is a requisite level of public outrage, which the media can always arrange for us. Bringing it back to Sterling, I will only observe that lynch mobs sometimes hang guilty people, but that this is not a good argument for the protection of public manners being turned over to lynch mobs.
The second observation has to do with the frenzied efforts of the mob to prove themselves to be a deeply moral people, with lots of core values all over the place. When a generation is as leprous as ours is, we don’t like how quiet evenings at home make us think about our guilt. This is why we launch periodic outrage crusades, going off on moralistic jags, in order to convince ourselves that we are too an upright people.
Remember. We are the generation that has slaughtered millions of children in utero. We are the ones who have hooked up the furnaces of Molech to the power grid. We are the people who have sanctified the anus as a true and noble destination of eros. We are the ones who discipline anyone who has the temerity to take issue with our red queen sexualities. Our consumerist idolatries sizzle and pop as we fry them all up in mammon grease. We are plainly the ones we have been waiting for, but we failed to take into account the fact that we are also Godot, only with a little less substance. We are the sad clowns of history.
We are the ones who refuse to name the name of Jesus, savior of the nations. Jesus is the one who bled and died in order to wash our conceits away from us, and every evening a glance at the news shows us what a pressing necessity this continues to be. I hesitate to introduce esoteric theological terms in a discussion like this, but the relevant ones are repent and believe.
So back to L’Affaire Sterling. As the old proverb has it, great cry and little wool, as the devil said when he sheared the hogs.