Donald Sterling

What You Say in Public Is Public

What you say in public is public, whether you think so or not.

Mitt Romney's comment at a private fundraiser and Donald Sterling's private comments to his girlfriend were captured on digital devices and turned into very damaging public issues. Trying to explain away their comments by where they were uttered would be pointless and irrelevant. You said them, someone heard them and they were posted for all the world to see and hear.

The best way to avoid an embarrassing disclosure is not to say anything in an unguarded moment or outside a secure location. With smartphones everywhere and the prospect of an army of drones overhead, secure locations may be increasingly hard to find. That argues for keeping some thoughts to yourself.

If you have any illusions about keeping information or comments confidential in an open setting, get rid of them. It really is a delusion.

A better assumption to make is that everything you say is being recorded by someone — from a government spy to a teenager randomly shooting video to while away time. This assumption should chasten you to be disciplined in what you say.

Disciplined speech doesn't mean constrained, boring speech. You just need to think before you speak. You can be informative, engaging and even funny. Just not stupid or careless.

Issues Beyond Defense

A leaked audiotape threatens to turn LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling into a pariah. Actually, his long-held views on blacks are what paved his path to becoming a pariah. 

As offensive as the taped remarks are — and they could be offensive enough to force Sterling out of the NBA — the real offense lies in the viewpoint and attitude that prompted Sterling to make the racist comments.

Former Clippers player Baron Davis tweeted that the views expressed on tape by Sterling are no different than the views he displayed when Baron was on the team. 

It seems like an odd choice for Sterling to own a professional basketball team made up of mostly African-American players. If he doesn't like blacks and doesn't want them to come to Clippers games, then why own the team?

As a lot of prominent people have discovered — remember presidential candidate Mitt Romney writing off 47 percent of the electorate at a fundraiser for the elite 1 percent? — what you really feel will sooner or later surface in what you actually say.

Deeply held feelings are not something you can manage. They control you.