Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling is under fire for allegedly having a conversation – reported on TMZ.com – with a woman identified as V. Stiviano, in which he warned her about hanging out with black people and bringing them to the Clippers’ games. (Apparently, Stiviano, the defendant in an embezzlement suit brought by the Sterling family, released the tape to TMZ.)
This is not the first time Sterling’s name has been associated with prejudice. In 2009, he paid $2.7 million to settle a government claim that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics, blacks and families in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood.
The revelation comes four days after New York Mets’ pitcher Matt Harvey deleted his Twitter account. Harvey’s last Tweet was a picture of himself giving the finger on the half-year anniversary of his Tommy John surgery.
I would agree with those who say that prejudice is far worse than crassness – though there’s no excuse for this deliberate kind of obscenity. (It’s not like a curse word uttered when you stub your toe.) Both prejudice and obscenity are a failure of culture, a failure of education. They say that we hold ourselves and others so cheaply that we think nothing of demeaning them, of demeaning ourselves. (Or perhaps we just don’t think, period.)
But the two situations have something else in common: They represent the failure to understand that in the age of the Internet, there’s no point in saying, writing, Tweeting, Instagramming, Linking, Facebooking or otherwise communicating anything you don’t want anybody and everybody to know.
Because private acts have a way of having public consequences.