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CON: Donald Sterling's conversation should have been kept private

By Jessica Priest
May 11, 2014 at 12:11 a.m.


Some are concerned Donald Sterling's privacy was invaded.

The phone call between Sterling and his girlfriend was recorded without his knowledge and then posted online by TMZ.

In Texas, one can legally record a telephone call if he or she is a party to it, but California is a two-party consent state.

If it's discovered V. Stiviano recorded the phone call without his permission and its distribution was damaging, Sterling could recover $5,000 or three times actual damages from her in civil court, whichever is greater.

TMZ could be held liable, too, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Stiviano could also be charged under Section 632 of the California Penal Code in a criminal court. If found guilty of recording a conversation without the consent of all parties, she faces up to one year in jail or in state prison and a $2,500 fine.

Kay Martin, 64, of Victoria, has never watched a professional basketball game but learned of the issue by reading the newspaper.

She thinks everything has been blown out of proportion. Sterling bought the team to make money, and who knows what the players or anyone else involved in the sport say in their own homes, too, she said.

"I'm not agreeing with what he said, but I don't think it's anybody's right to force him to sell his team for something he said in his private home," Martin said. "Just because his girlfriend got all whiny and went to the press doesn't make it right."

Former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently wrote an op-ed for Time.

He coached for the Los Angeles Clippers for three months in 2000. While he condemned Sterling's racist speech, he wondered why there was a delayed public outrage. Sterling has a documented past of racist behavior, including a 2009 Justice Department lawsuit alleging he discriminated against minorities in his rental properties.

Stiviano seems to have entrapped Sterling, and the media, on a slow news day, bought into it, he wrote.

"Didn't we just call to task the NSA (National Security Agency) for intruding into American citizens' privacy in such an un-American way?" Abdul-Jabbar asked in the op-ed. "Although the impact is similar to Mitt Romney's comments that were secretly taped (during the recent presidential campaign), the difference is that Romney was giving a public speech. The making and release of this tape is so sleazy that just listening to it makes me feel like an accomplice to the crime. We didn't steal the cake, but we're all gorging ourselves on it."

Thirty-two percent of black basketball fans and 47 percent of white basketball fans said it was unacceptable for Sterling to be punished for remarks he made in a private conversation.

The New York Times and CBS News polled 534 basketball fans nationwide from April 30 to May 1.

They also found that 9 percent of black basketball fans and 25 percent of white basketball fans found his punishment to be too hard.

Fifty-seven percent of black basketball fans, meanwhile, thought the racist views expressed by Sterling were widespread in professional sports, while 32 percent did not and 10 percent had no opinion.

In the 1990s, Marge Schott, the owner of the Cincinnati Reds, was suspended in 1993 and in 1996 after she referred to players who wore earrings as "fruits" and said Adolf Hitler "just went too far," according to the Washington Post.

Gino Tozzi, a University of Houston-Victoria political science lecturer, said nowadays, because of collective experiences such as television, speech is more nationalized.

Now that everyone has a smartphone, it can be captured and posted to YouTube quickly, which is what happened to Romney. Sometimes, things are taken out of context, he said.

"People just look at the clip, and the clip only shows 10 seconds of people speaking and doesn't show the entire 20- or 15-minute speech," Tozzi said.

Pro: As private company, NBA can ban Donald Sterling for comments

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