Here’s your dissenting opinion.

Here we go again talking about sports.  The past few days the sports world has been abuzz because of comments made by the LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling.  For those who don’t know what happened, here’s a very quick summary.  Several months ago Sterling was talking to a woman that he knows, and he said that he didn’t appreciate the fact that she posted pictures of herself with Magic Johnson.  Sterlings exact words from the recording were as follows: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”  (From the ESPN article found here.)  As a result of his comment getting out, Sterling was banned from all NBA related activities, find $2.5 million, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said that he plans to ask the other NBA team owners to vote to make Sterling sell the Clippers.

Now, from my understanding, this comment was made in Sterling’s home, and a recording was released several months later.  Per Wikipedia, Sterling was suing the woman who released the recording, and she said that she would “get even” with him.

Lets do something that not many other people seem to be doing, and take a look at exactly what he said. It bothers him that someone he knows is associating with black people.  Not a nice thing to say, but I’m sure you could find far more racially offensive articles from the past week, like this article talking about a fan throwing a banana at a soccer player in Spain.  That’s far more offensive to me, but apparently not to the public at large, in part because it’s from Europe, and in part because it’s soccer, a sport most American’s don’t care about.

Let’s take a look at Sterling while we’re at it, according to Wikipedia, Sterling is 80 years old.  This isn’t excusing what he said, but it does lend some context.  We’re a far more integrated society today than we were when Sterling was growing up.  When he was younger, interracial relationships were more rare, and it’s understandable that they might make him uncomfortable.

Secondly, he said he wasn’t comfortable with the girl associating with “black people.”  There are plenty of other more offensive racial terms that he could have used instead of “black people.”

Lastly, lets look at the punishment.  He’s being find $2.5 million, again we go to Wikipedia, which says that his net worth is something like $1.9 billion.  So yeah, it’s a big fine, but it’s not exactly going to send him to the poor house.  Next, he’s banned from anything to do with the NBA, including attending games or even attending a practice, I think this is going a bit too far.  He’s already a fairly quiet owner by comparison to others (Mark Cuban of Dallas comes to mind), and while he hasn’t done a great job of running a winning team over the years, I don’t think there were ever any stories about him not paying players, or refusing to sign black players, so as far as that’s concerned he’s done his job more than adequately.

And now we get to the most damning part, at least as far as I’m concerned.  Silver is going to try and get the rest of the NBA owners to vote in an attempt to force Sterling to sell the team.  He’s the longest tenured owner in the league, and over the time that he’s owned the team the NBA has grown astronomically larger and more popular.  I don’t know exactly how much, but he’s probably had something to do with that behind the scenes.  I think this sets a bad precedent for the other owners.  This is a very, very, small thing, and they’re trying to force him to sell the team.  What happens in a couple of years when the aforementioned Mark Cuban says something to offend someone, is he going to be forced by the other owners to sell the team?  What happens the next time a coach questions a league decision?  Will the commissioner put pressure on the team to fire the coach?  What about when it’s found that a player told a joke with the N word in it when he was a freshman in high school?  Is he going to be suspended?

This whole controversy boils down to two things.  One, we’ve somehow managed to sterilize our culture to the point where having an opinion that differs from the “politically correct views” in any way shape or form means that anyone who might possibly have been offended any time in the past 50 years has every right to crucify you for what you said.  And two, Adam Silver is brand new as a commissioner in the NBA, and he wanted to do everything he could to make sure that people realize that he is the commissioner and he has the power.

Is Sterling a perfect person, no, he isn’t.  But I doubt that he’s anywhere near as bad as he’s been made to seem.  We’ve all vented about things from time to time, and we’ve all said things that are politically incorrect.  If you took a soundbite of the worst things we’ve said in our private moments, nobody would have a job.  In the past week, I’ve heard plenty of things that are far worse than what Sterling said.  Quite frankly, I’ve said more offensive things than what Sterling said in the past week.  This is a stupid situation that got absurdly out of hand.  If I was Donald Sterling, I’d fight this every step of the way, sit court side at the next Clippers home game, and tell Adam Silver to take his lifetime ban and shove it up his ass.

But that wouldn’t be politically correct would it?

Sound tasty to you?

This may be one of the most tasteless things that I’ve posted on my blog, but it made me laugh for most of yesterday and a good deal of today, and it’s talking about current events, so it’s always fun.

Apparently Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood home is for sale, and has been up for sale for a while now.  And while that’s entertaining enough, apparently PETA considered buying the house and turning his house into a vegan restaurant.

Immediately upon hearing that there were plans for turning it into a restaurant, my first thought was about asking people if they would want to eat there.  When I asked my co-workers if they would want to eat there, their reactions ranged from complete disgust to morbid curiosity.

Personally, I think the Dahmer House Bar and Grill has a nice ring to it, and I’d love to eat there.  Beyond the novelty of simply having a restaurant there, think of the marketing ideas.  Who wouldn’t want a t-shirt that says “I had dinner at Jeffrey Dahmer’s house.”

I think you could go a little further with it, turn it into a sort of theme restaurant as well.  Put liver and onions on the menu, sweetbreads (thymus gland or pancreas), chitterlings (intestines, usually pig), or haggis.

I know I wouldn’t be the only one interested in eating there, and I’m sure there are plenty of other people with a sense of humor as dark as mine who would have to make at least one trip there.  So how about you?  Would you eat there?  And while I’m on the subject, do you have anything you would add to the menu?

Speaking of the Dead

To begin with, this is probably going to be one of the more offensive things that I’ve ever said, even though I’m going to be referring to a person that most people who read this will never have met.  I’m also at no point in this post give the person’s actual name, I’m simply going to ask a question and give my thoughts about the answer to said question in this post.

The question is a fairly simple one, but one that never gets asked in polite company.  Why is it that when a person dies, no one ever says anything bad about them?

Allow me to give the context for this question.  Recently, someone who had been a fairly close friend of my parents passed away.  I knew quite a few people who thought that the deceased person was an asshole (myself included), there were even quite a few times when my parents agreed that the deceased was an asshole on a regular basis.  The last time that I saw the deceased I had been out shopping and they were in the same store.  I told my mom when I got home and I remember the conversation going something like this:

Me: “I ran into (person) at the store today.”

Mom: “I’m sorry to hear that.”

However, upon hearing that the person died, my mother said that it was really hard, even though she hadn’t seen him in years, and the fact that she had called him an asshole on numerous occasions.

I find it a little, dishonest is probably the best word, to suddenly revere someone just because they’re no longer with us.  When I was at bowling last week, the owner of the bowling alley made an announcement that the person had passed away (the person had been a bowler in the area for years and many people at the bowling alley knew the deceased).  I was respectful an honored the moment of silence that the owner of the bowling alley asked for, but then my first comment to one of the guys that I bowl with was that I knew the person (my friend didn’t) and that I thought he was an asshole.

At this point I find it interesting that I chose to title this post “Speaking of the Dead” because of how much it relates to Orson Scott Card’s book “Speaker of the Dead,” which is the second book in the Ender series.  (And no, I didn’t think of the similarity before I started writing this post.)

The title of Speaker for the Dead comes from a profession that Card invented for the book.  When a person dies, their family or community could call upon a Speaker for the Dead to interview them and then talk about their life, but not in the way that we do at funerals where we only talk about the good things that people do.

A Speaker for the Dead would discuss not only the good things that a person did, but also the bad.  They would be able to discuss both a person’s greatest virtues as well as their worst vices.  In short, they would be able to describe them as a real person, and not simply a cardboard cutout.

No one is perfect, and we all have our shortcomings.  But I’m also of the opinion that nearly everyone in the world has something they can contribute to other people.  And that if you really sit down and talk to someone, one on one, you can find something about them that you relate to.  But I think also think that whitewashing their lives just because they’re dead is dishonest and in many ways disrespectful to the person that they were.  None of us want to be remembered solely because of our worst moments, and I think it’s equally disingenuous to only remember the best about a person.

I don’t claim to be perfect, I have flaws just like everyone else, and like most people I aspire to get better.  Even posthumously, I don’t think it’s good to remember people only because of their good qualities.  Take the bad with the good and round out the person, I think in the end we’re all better off when seen as a real person and not simply as a composite of our best qualities.