Donald Sterling circus leaves two unanswered questions

Political cartoonist's love shooting fish in a barrel, a.k.a. Donald Sterling

Like every other political cartoonist, I love shooting fish in a barrel. So no way no how was I going to pass up the racist rant ascribed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

However, this is one of those stories where you can easily guess what every other cartoonist's take is going to be: Racism is bad.

Not that I don't think racism is bad. I do. It's simply that, after you've seen 100 cartoons saying that racism is bad, and that Sterling is bad, I don't see what would be added to the national conversation by another one from Ted Rall.

I may be self-deluded (but then how would I know?) in my belief that I find facets of big stories that get overlooked by other commentators.

Like: As creepy as Sterling no doubt is, the possible violation of his privacy is a nasty piece of business. What was released may have been obtained illegally (in California, surreptitious recording is against the law) and perhaps as a matter of spite or payback. As I've said before: Society must defend its worst scumbags from having their rights violated.

And privacy isn't the only under-discussed aspect of a story that has more angles than a porcupine. Like: the new non-denial denialist in town, the anonymous Clippers flack who penned this beaut:

"Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect, his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life. He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them."

Man. I love this. Apologizing for saying things you haven't actually admitted saying? As of press time, Sterling still wasn't 'fessing up publicly. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Sterling had admitted it was his voice asking a friend not to be photographed with black people or to bring them to Clippers games.

We've all said things we wish we hadn't. But most of us haven't gone on and on and on revealing, in great detail, our obvious, deeply felt bigotry. Why? Because most of us don't have those feelings. Even when we're drunk. Or baited.

But if the NBA commissioner is right and it's Sterling's voice on the recording, how to explain the assertion that "what is reflected on that recording" is inconsistent with and doesn't reflect Sterling's "views, beliefs or feelings"?

I think the answer is clear: Sterling must be a devotee of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Derrida, a pioneering postmodernist best known for pioneering "deconstructionism," argued that the meanings of words and phrases were inherently arbitrary; that, as one source puts it, "There is, with respect to the very structure of language, no proper context to provide proof of a final meaning."

Sterling is about to have a lot of newly freed-up time on his hands. He can't attend any more basketball games or NBA meetings, for instance. I recommend he continue his postmodern studies by reading Benoit Peeters' riveting "Derrida: A Biography."

At a mere 700 pages, he'll be sad when it's over way too soon.


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Ted Rall, who draws a weekly editorial cartoon cartoonist for The Times, is also a nationally syndicated opinion columnist and author. His new book is “Silk Road to Ruin: Why Central Asia is the New Middle East.” Follow Ted Rall on Twitter @TedRall.

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