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Did league’s punishment go too far?


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DONALD Sterling is a moron.

He should not be a victim of society’s politically correct “thought police,” however.

Racist comments attributed to the L.A. Clippers owner are callous, abhorrent, myopic — pick your word.

Cries by many, though, to kick the owner out of the NBA because of a surreptitiously recorded private conversation went too far in enforcing vigilante justice.

Let the marketplace work instead. Bending the rules in a fit of outrage is never the answer.

That is exactly what NBA Commissioner Adam Silver did.

The NBA’s rush to judgment in banning Sterling for life and essentially strong-arming the sale of the franchise is troubling. That Silver occupies the perceived moral high ground on this issue doesn’t make it right.

“In this country, people are allowed to be morons,” Dallas Mavericks owner and Indiana University graduate Mark Cuban said before the ruling. “They’re allowed to be stupid. They’re allowed to think idiotic thoughts.”

That’s right. Even morons are entitled to a fair shake, whether they deserve it or not.

This smacks more of vigilante justice, if that term even makes sense.

Sure, the 81-year-old Sterling has long been one of league’s least endearing owners. Few would be sorry to see him go.

The circumstances of his departure are most bizarre. The married owner’s conversation with his longtime girlfriend was surreptitiously recorded and leaked to gossip site TMZ. In that audio recording, someone sounding like Sterling condemns his friend’s association with Magic Johnson.

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” Sterling asks the woman on the tape.

That’s it. That’s the evidence.

There is something else at play here that is disturbing. That is a rush to judgment that is wholly out of proportion to the “crime.”

I myself may be guilty of sometimes pushing the envelope on political correctness. For too long, bullying, racism and sexism have been part of society.

Do we reach a point, though, where our collective zeal to preach tolerance leads us to be intolerant of those with whom we disagree? I wonder if this is that moment.

Bob Johnson is a correspondent for the Daily Journal of Johnson County, a sister paper of The Republic. Send comments to sports@therepublic.com.

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