Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lessons From the Donald Sterling Circus That You Can Use to Improve Yourself and Your Own Life

By Robert Ringer

Before I get started, let me say at the outset that I’m not defending Donald Sterling.  He doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend him, because he’s entitled to think and say whatever he wants to — anywhere, anytime, and certainly in his own home.  Whether he’s a saint or a sinner is irrelevant to me.

Unfortunately for those who demand that Donald Sterling be tarred and feathered in front of the Staples Center at high noon, it’s not likely to happen.  Dorky Adam Silver (commissioner of the NBA) jumped at the opportunity to play the role of tough guy for the Robespierre-crazed masses, but it was mostly for show.  As an attorney, he certainly must know that there is nothing in the NBA’s bylaws that comes close to covering what an owner can and cannot say in his own home.

If Article 13 (the provision that deals with termination of an owner’s franchise) of those bylaws is what Silver is counting on to force Sterling out of the league, he’s going to look quite foolish if The Donald pulls out all legal stops and starts filing lawsuits en masse, which history tells us he is wont to do.

Even if Sterling is a “racist” — a word I put in quotes because its meaning has become so diluted as a result of shameless overuse by those (both in and outside of the government) who continually profit by stirring up ill will among races  — there’s nothing in the termination clause of the NBA bylaws that allows the league to force him to sell his team because one person, or even one million people, are offended by something he said in the privacy of his home.

Donald Sterling is no Boy Scout, to be sure, but his remarks were nothing compared to the daily rants of race hustlers like Al Sharleton (credit Chris Plante), Jesse Jackson, Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Jeremiah Wright, Spike Lee, and a growing number of professional athletes.
If everyone is going to be punished for every offensive comment they make, either in or outside of their home, we’re all in big trouble.  Back in 2001, I recall negotiating a business deal over the phone with a doctor from Kentucky who, at one point during our discussion, casually said to me, “Look, I don’t want you to think I’m trying to Jew you down, but …”

First of all, I wasn’t recording him.  Second, while his remark caught me by surprise, I let it pass, said my goodbyes, and decided not to deal with him again.  No fuss … no muss … next subject.  Would the same people who are calling for Donald Sterling’s head demand that the American Medical Association strip that Kentucky doctor of his license to practice medicine?
While his remark was a turnoff to me, I believe he has every right to say whatever he wants, and let the marketplace decide his fate — i.e., let individuals choose whether or not they want to use his medical services, do business deals with him, or be involved with him socially.  The marketplace is the only perfect arbiter on earth.

And how about Daniel Snyder’s refusal to refrain from using the word “Redskins” as his team’s nickname?  Can the NFL’s other owners vote to force him to sell his team if they believe his attitude is racist?  Where does it stop?

In any event, I’m not interested in opining on the merits or lack thereof of Donald Sterling’s case.  That will be up to the courts and the race-fixated mobs who roam the country in search of the next great “social-justice” issue.  (Yes, the mobs will have a big influence on the outcome of any such court proceedings, just as they always do in the United States of Lawlessness.)
Personally, whenever there’s a big media blitz about some perceived wrongdoing, I prefer to ignore the hysteria and think about what I can learn from the situation that could be useful to me.  Off the top of my head, following are a handful of lessons that I believe are worth gleaning from the Sterling media circus — lessons that you can use to improve yourself and your own life
  1. People say negative things behind your back all the time.  If you don’t already know that, wake up!  If you do know it, don’t let it bother you.  Whenever I hear that someone has said something unflattering about me, I opt to take the rationally selfish approach and do my best to ignore it — especially when I know it’s patently false.  I hope, for your sake, that you do the same.
  2. Don’t buy into the hate-speech scam.  People have opinions, some of which you may like, some of which you may not like.  Best to leave all that nonsense up to the PC Police, who achieve mental orgasms by harassing (perceived) evil speakers.  You don’t have time to get bogged down in group protests if you’re interested in bettering your life.
  3. “They” say that hate speech is bad, but what’s worse is the idea that someone actually believes he has the moral authority to decide what constitutes hate speech in the first place.  Of course, if someone hurls a remark directly at you, and you, in your sole judgment, consider it to be “hateful,” that’s your prerogative.  As an individual, you have a right to make a determination about speech that is aimed specifically at you.  But before you get yourself all worked up over it, remember what mom taught you about sticks and stones.
  4. Learn to reject hypocrisy and hypocrites.  In the Sterling saga, the hypocrisy is so thick it’s stifling, as you already know if you’ve been following the story at all.  The world is full of hypocrites, especially in politics (which is really what hate speech is all about).  Best you focus on policing yourself to make sure that you are not guilty of hypocrisy.
  5. Never forget that friends and sweethearts have a way of becoming enemies.  Make sure your mouth understands that.  Talk is not cheap.  On the contrary, it has proven to be quite capable of destroying lives.  Think before you open your mouth.
  6. In the same vein, be vigilant about not making The Big Mistake.  We all make little mistakes on a daily basis, but be careful about making a mistake so big that it can threaten your very survival.
    In Donald Sterling’s case, maybe he’s a terrible person — I have no idea — but I suspect his remarks (which, while not nearly as bad as those that have been made by some of his most vocal critics) were nothing more than the angry rants of an old guy who was mad at his middle-school girlfriend.
    This is where mom’s advice comes in handy again:  If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.  There’s a reason why aphorisms like this have been around forever:  They’re true.  Instead of wasting time fretting over Donald Sterling’s remarks, concentrate on what comes out of your mouth.
  7. The best protection against becoming Sterlingized (a form of sterilization performed by the loud crowd) is to follow a simple rule:  Live every moment as though the whole world were watching and write every e-mail as though the whole world were going to be reading it — something politicians never seem to learn.
Finally, of course, never — EVER — try to persuade people to change their fundamental beliefs, no matter how misguided you may think they are.  Why?  Because you will fail, and you’ll waste a lot of valuable time in the process.  It’s called opportunity cost.
Use your time to focus on your own life.  The only person over whom you have total control is you.  Put your efforts into purifying your own life, and forget about the Donald Sterlings of the world and the rabble-rousers who live for the thrill of trying to destroy them.

Copyright © 2014 Robert Ringer

ROBERT RINGER is a New York Times #1 bestselling author who has appeared on numerous national radio and television shows, including The Tonight Show, Today, The Dennis Miller Show, Good Morning America, ABC Nightline, The Charlie Rose Show, as well as Fox News and Fox Business. To sign up for a free subscription to his mind-expanding daily insights, visit


  1. RW is always warning that points 5 & 7 will become true in a fascist police state and there you have them in type as advice by someone.

    1. Let us concede that the advice was well intentioned; as for its merits, there are certain lyrics in the song My Way, so effectively and forcefully crooned by The Chairman of the Board, that best describe Mr. Ringer's bromides:

      For what is a man, what has he got
      If not himself, then he has not

    2. I think the question might be whether: (1) treating people with respect; and (2) saying what you truly feel are mutually exclusive?

      In other words, can you say what you truly think, but in a respectful manner - so called "constructive criticism"? This is a tough line to navigate because there are so many variables involved, including the sensitivity and personal biases of the listener.

      The Sterling comments for example - involved an unusually sensitive listener - a lynchmob media on a crusade.

      For example, if you say "there are too many blacks on welfare" - even if this statement is factually true, you will get to very different reactions depending on who is listening. Most people I run into on a daily basis are BOTH overly sensitive listeners and yet disrespectful speakers, or at least one of those.

      Sterling can say whatever he wants this whole thing reeks of some sort of setup.

  2. . "doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend him, because he’s entitled to think and say whatever he wants to — anywhere, anytime, and certainly in his own home. Whether he’s a saint or a sinner is irrelevant to me"

    Pure gold and it gets better with every sentence.
    Best piece on the whole debate.

  3. Honestly this is all irrelevant from a pure legal perspective. Donald cannot continue to own the franchise because if he does, the backlash from fans, media, sponsors, players and the like will destroy the team. So the NBA has leverage. Extra-legal perhaps, but not illegal.

    What's funny in all this is that RW is wrong to essentially say he doesn't care what people think. I do, and I think he does too in other circumstances. For example, I care if people believe in liberty. As a Christian, I desire to convert as many as possible.

    With Sterling, by all public accounts he is a disgusting individual who lives a hedonistic and scandalous life. Having reviewed the transcript myself, it is obvious he has backwards views on race. I find this less concerning however, than his unbridled hedonism, which is far more in your face. It puts a bad influence on the culture.

    And so, it isn't "irrelevant" whether he is a saint or a sinner. I absolutely take into account the character of a business before I decide to do business with them. As do many others. All markets discriminate; well, many consumers have decided to discriminate against Donald. Fair is fair after all.

    NB: To the extent the sole complaint is that Donald's "racism" is unclear and overwrought, and that the culture goes apoplectic over something like this instead of actual issues like war and peace, then I of course agree. But much of the anti-mainstream commentary I am seeing on this incident goes too much in the other direction, to where we say we don't care what anyone thinks ever. Well that's just nonsense plain and simple.

  4. @Anon
    "we don't care what anyone thinks ever"

    No. That's not what people are saying. They are just refusing to play along with the media's attempt to create a lynch mob over something someone said in his house that ought not even to be in the private realm.

    Point two. If Sterling offended someone in his actions, then that is the person who should be be getting upset not random strangers.

    Of course, everyone can have an opinion. They always do. The issue is whether the matter is worth PUBLIC outrage and belongs in the public realm.

    As for DS's hedonism, there are hundreds of thousands of hedonists in this country, many far worse than
    Sterling. Did you also express your disgust with Belle Knox? If you didn't, why particularly Sterling?

    As for markets discriminating, it is relevant to markets that they can be manipulated by the media, that the media is owned by a small group of companies, that those groups often pursue policies cohesively in support of political agendas. So no - it's not just private.

    I think Wenzel's stance is immensely civilized....quite exceptionally so.
    Private thoughts and speech are just that - with no exceptions.
    Lewdly discussing Sterling's private life makes us more disgusting than that unhappy old man.

    1. Lila, if I may respond.

      First, I don't understand your dichotomy on public vs. private opinion. If an opinion leaks, it's public. The cat is out of the bag. It may inform our judgment of course, as well all have said things in private that we would never repeat in public (or that we regret).

      I agree this matter is not worth public outrage. However, given Sterling's long record that is much older than this recent incident, I can legitimately find his public actions and public persona repugnant. Scandalous even. Normally I wouldn't care but the Media and RW can't stop talking about it.

      As to there being lots of hedonists? Well, yes. And many worse than Sterling. And I express my disgust at their actions and purported philosophies in every case. I don't know who Belle Knox is. You haven't undermined my argument. I can't be everywhere at once, nor do I value denouncing people randomly for sins. As a Christian, 99% of my moral focus is on my own sins and shortcomings, and on teaching my children.

      As to markets discriminating, it happens by definition in every choice a consumer makes, choosing one thing over another. It is true that the Media, through IP laws and FCC regulation, have created an oligopoly in television thus giving them outsized influence. But competitors are all around them now, yet Americans keep going back to the garbage. Consumer sovereignty keeps them in power more than anything else.

      I don't think Wenzel has clearly communicated his stance. My stance is that this whole shebang is irrelevant in light of much greater evils in the world, and that the outrage is just the usual overwrought politically correct handwringing . It is a spectacle. But I do sympathize with Clipper fans (as Sterling is the worst owner, and this latest development takes the cake). And I don't go so far as to say that a person's private thoughts never have relevance. Suppose it comes out that I have a neighbor that loves NAMBLA and likes to lust after children (even if not acted upon). I can tell you I would avoid that neighbor.

      And lastly, I haven't seen anyone lewdly discuss Sterling's private life. His public lewdness is well known to those of us who have followed the NBA for the last 2 decades.

  5. "While his remark was a turnoff to me, I believe he has every right to say whatever he wants, and let the marketplace decide his fate — i.e., let individuals choose whether or not they want to use his medical services, do business deals with him, or be involved with him socially."


    Bingo. This is what I've been saying for a while. I've asked people why the hell would you want to give money or make money for someone who thinks human rights don't apply to you and views you as sub-human? It doesn't make sense. Its the equivalent of saying "Thank You Sir, may I have another?"

    When I went and bought my first shotgun and hunting rifle I had a few of the local gun shops tell me that they don't sell to sp$cs. You know what I did? I went to the local Dick's Sporting Goods and bought them there and they were cheaper than what the locals were selling them for. In the market place there will always be someone who will be willing to sell to you.

    A sports example would be when the Dodgers brought Jackie Robinson onto their team. The Negro leagues were full of untapped talent but of course during Robinson's time race mixing was taboo. Branch Rickey saw something that other Baseball executives did not (or probably more accurate ignored) that Robinson had talent that could help the Dodgers despite the unwritten rule of not wanting to have black players play with white ones. For those who know baseball history it shows that Rickey made the right move since the Dodgers won the World Series in 1955.

    People like Lee, Sharpton, Jackons and others can go straight to hell as far as I'm concerned I cant wait for them to die.

    1. "When I went and bought my first shotgun and hunting rifle I had a few of the local gun shops tell me that they don't sell to sp$cs."


    2. And as Gary Becker explained, their discrimination cost them a sale. I know a biker who purchased a gay bar and put up a sign that said "No Gays Allowed" and I know another person who purchased a biker bar and turned it into supper club. Anytime bikers came in they were treated with disdain to encourage them to quit coming.

    3. None of this policing would stop people from discriminating if they wanted to.
      Also, because some one mouths off, it doesn't mean they discriminate. And because someone discriminates, it doesn't mean they will express it. The worst offenders are often mealy-mouthed sanctimonious sociopaths with especially charming and suave personalities. Go read about the sociopaths and psychopaths who pass in society as normal and how they infest the upper echelons of society.

      Plus rich people who can afford tens of thousands for the highest level of encryption, will continue to plot serious offenses without a hitch, because the idiot mob is bent out of shape by someone's off-color private remarks.

      Meanwhile, commentators solemnly gather on blogs, nod their heads sagaciously and say "privacy is dead" to make sure you all get the message to stay quiet at home.

      And libertarians agree to such intimidation and nonsense. Privacy is not dead. Stop linking and debating whatever the media tells you to. Assert that famous "freedom" and "liberty" you all have branded as your own but hardly exert, and the whole thing will collapse in ten minutes.

  6. Suppose there was a gay Catholic guy in the closet who had a business where his customers were mostly conservative Catholics.

    Suppose now that someone took pictures of his interactions with a lover and broadcast it to the world.

    The customers no longer want to do business with the guy because in their book he's the kind of guy they'd rather see dead than interact with (just as some feel about Sterling).

    Isn't this morally repugnant to you? What right have they to a knowledge of his intimate life he never permitted them to have and which they obtained through pretext and fraud?

    The knowledge they now have about the guy, illegitimate knowledge, can never be unlearned.

    Now change this to another scenario.

    A guy expresses some opinions about someone casually, because he thought he was alone. This is broad cast over the world and offends close friends. No one hears the context. No one knows much else about the guy.

    Or a woman discusses a miscarriage or the mental illness of a child with her husband and that is broadcast to the world. Isn't this morally hideous to you?

    Personally, I find the people venting about Sterling much, much more offensive than Sterling.
    I find them base and vulgar.

    Do you really think you can judge people by what they say in private just because they are alone?
    Sterling's words weren't meant to hurt anyone. They expressed feelings. Would you rather he didn't express his feelings in private?
    Yet men and women are free to expose genitals in public and then it's "you go."

    What perversity.

    Isn't the very nature of privacy that it lets people vent spontaneously without parsing for its effect on others. Is it correct to expose those thoughts to the world?
    This was in the guy's home.
    The public, which gets upset over Sharia law and theocracy, is in effect agreeing to media/public policing of their innermost thoughts, media control of their most intimate speech, without batting an eyelash.

    Truly mind-boggling that people still don't get that they are policing each other for the powers-that-be.

    You are the Cheka. And you like it.

  7. "who thinks human rights don't apply to you and views you as sub-human? "
    Most of this is idle venting.
    That's the problem. If someone records you mouthing off about your wife one day, does that mean they know exactly how you think or feel about her? Of course not. It's a momentary feeling.
    You know nothing about Sterling except what the media has chosen to put out there. For all you know, the guy's wife torments him morning, noon and night and he is forced to look elsewhere for love. For all you know, he and this girl have a platonic relationship. For all you know, he goes to heaven before everyone judging him.
    The media is already a kingmaker. Now it's trying to play God.

    1. Perhaps you should learn how to read I never mentioned Sterling in my post, I could give a rats ass about him or this whole episode.

  8. @Cynical in NY

    I wasn't replying to you, as such. I was replying to the original post, using your comment. I should have made that clear.

    I quoted your line, where you implicitly referenced the previous post, which was about Sterling.
    So indeed I can read and your response is unwarranted.

    @Anon at 9.27 ." If an opinion leaks, it's public..."

    No. I am making a real distinction. Public, as in pertaining to the public and legitimately debated by it. A criminal record is a public record, even if it's hidden from sight. A medical record is a private record, even if someone illegally makes it public. Your private parts are your private parts even if you display them in public.
    The media is supposed to engage in public debate about public issues. If the media starts debating my high school attendance, that is a private matter.

    A decent media would not have published the material. It is presumptively acquired illegitimately. It used to be no one would dream of publishing such stuff. It would be ignored.

    If you want to defeat the media, you should learn to ignore such things instead of playing along. So, the public is just as much at fault.

    Re - denouncing hedonists. I applaud you for not knowing who Belle Knox is. But that is my point. Precisely because such denunciations are random and effectively controlled by the media, which decides who is going to be the next target, we perform to their expectations, their script, and their agenda.
    We become unpaid Cheka, as I said earlier.

    We may believe that we are expressing moral outrage. We are actually furthering a political agenda and it behooves us not to be so gullible. It behooves us to think like grandmasters, rather than hop like chess- pieces.

    If the media is going to act as judge and jury, depriving people without trial of their livelihoods (because it IS the media, not the mob, which only follows the media), then surely we must ask that such rough justice be applied equally to all, as legal justice is. Otherwise, it is nothing more than TERROR.

    Re - lewdness. Discussing another's intimate life publicly, for no more than shits and giggles, is lewd in and of itself.

    I fear the country is insane. I really do.
    I seriously believe that I would prefer to live under Sharia than this.

    1. Agree with everything you posted on this topic except for the last sentence. Perhaps my sarcometer is off this morning?

  9. #8; There's no free speech in the private sphere: the more professional and high-profile you are the more careful you have to be lest you give your enemies the ammo they need to wreck your career.

    1. Without the PC bullshit that has been promoted by government, the public schools, and statist media types who are shills for government then would never have been an issue. His conversation was recorded in the privacy of his own home and then exposed to a PC indoctrinated country.

    2. In other words, remember when old White men could make unpleasant comments and Blacks just had to suck it up and pretend to like it? Heaven forbid in the future certain "P.C. typees" might have significant business interests in which they could retaliate.

  10. @Gil

    No. There IS free speech in the private sphere but there is no one willing to stand up for it. If they stood up for it, careers would not be wrecked.

    Meanwhile, you guys work yourself up in a lather about some non-existent theocracy. Well, there is no theocracy and there has never been one that was this totalitarian, arbitrary and vicious in its reach and nature. And you are going silently into it without putting up a fight.

    1. No there isn't. People are free to disassociate from others they don't like. It's the government that sometimes forces people to trade with people they don't like. In his particularly scenario people have chosen to disassociate with this Sterling character because of his views.

  11. @Gil

    No, people haven't "chosen" anything. They've been brow-beaten by fear of being tarred or driven from economic life to obey. Far more agree with him than disagree, they are just cowed. That's freedom of association? They don't think he's repellent. How do I know. Because all day long I hear ordinary Americans express similar views when they think no one is listening. Because all over the world - wherever I've traveled - people make the same generalizations - ordinary decent people who wouldn't hurt anyone consciously. This phony outrage is just that and the phony compliance is also just that.
    It's nothing more than terror.
    Propaganda, threat, extortion, and manipulation, not free choice.
    It's as much free as the rigged market, phony stats, lies about war and peace, 24/7 lies bear any resemblance to honest economic or political discourse.

  12. @Anonymous at 9.01
    No sarcasm.

    I seriously would prefer a theocracy to a pornocracy (in the broadest meaning of porn).
    A theocracy is correctly oriented in its major premises, only wrong in its minor. A pornocracy is wrong on major and minor premises.