"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Two Stories, One Story Redux

The two big stories dominating today are the lifetime ban the NBA gave to Donald Sterling, the Clippers' owner, for what to my ear were mildly racist comments he made during a private conversation that was illegally recorded then leaked to the media; and the discovery of emails showing the White House's manipulation of the Benghazi story.   Why are they the same story?

Consider... this man is now under a lifetime ban from a business he was involved with for 33 years because he said something that offended a particular group (African-Americans).

And this man, the "director" of the Internet video that Obama blamed for Benghazi, went to jail for nearly a year... again because his expressions (via the video) offended a particular group (Muslims).

Now, again, I hold no brief for either men.   Sterling is a boor and Mark Basselly Youssef (the creator of the Innocence of the Muslims video) is a no-talent hack who appears to have gone out of his way to make something offensive.  

But in both cases all they did was engage in expression, which ought to be protected under the First Amendment.   Yet, in both cases, they were essentially demonized by powerful, billion-dollar enterprises, the NBA for Sterling, the Obama campaign for Youssef.   Why?   Because they offended people?   Well, maybe.

But mostly... because they hurt the brand.   Sterling hurt the potential sales of the product called NBA basketball.   Youssef was a necessary scapegoat to ensure the reelection of the product called Barack Obama.  

Omelets.   Eggs.   You get the picture.   

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