Tag Archives: speech


Image“On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and urged league owners to force him to sell the team,” FoxNews reports.  This wasn’t the first time Sterling has been accused of making racist statements. He was once unsuccessfully sued for wrongful termination based on race and settled another suit claiming he was committing racist exclusion in renting real estate, however, it is noteworthy that he was not convicted in either of these prior offenses.

I’m not very keen on defending a racist, but I do find it troubling that Sterling is paying a very real financial and professional price for a statement that he apparently made in private.

Phone conversations are typically considered to have the expectation of privacy unless otherwise stated – think of the times you were asked if it was permissible to record your conversation ‘for training purposes.’ However, Siamak Nehoray, lawyer for V. Stiviano, claims that Sterling’s conversations were recorded with his consent for ‘archival purposes.’ 

I imagine Sterling saying, “Hey babe, make sure you record all these racist comments I make. I might need them for my memoir someday and I’d be really miffed if I couldn’t remember what words I used to denigrate your friends. Oh, and spread them around a bit in case your phone goes down. I don’t want this material lost.”

It’s important to note that Sterling did not lose control of his NBA franchise as a function of governmental condemnation of his speech. Although, it may become a public matter if Sterling feels that he has been wrongfully ‘terminated. I have no idea what the bylaws of the NBA owner’s club might be – and it looks like no one other than the owners themselves actually do. Nor do I know how this constitution might be governed by law.

Just ask yourself this one question though. ‘Have you ever said anything – anywhere that could get you fired from your job if it was made public? ‘  No frustrations with your boss or co-workers? No dissent from the company line on a product they sell? No matter when or where you were. Maybe it was on the phone with your mother or best friend after a particularly rough day?

Sterling doesn’t look like the kind of guy I would enjoy hanging out with and I doubt he would want to spend any time with me either. And if says or acts on any of these racist remarks in public, he should get hell for it. But everyone has a right to be as mean and surly as they want at home, don’t they?


I suppose nice people don’t get sued for what they say, so only asses can keep speech free.


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Posted by on May 3, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Son of HeLa to speak at JCCC Feb 21

Last week in Microbiology, we mentioned the use of HeLa cells in the context of informed consent. This week, I found out that the son of Henrietta Lacks is appearing to speak at JCCC this month.

From the JCCC website:


What is it like to know that cells from your mother were taken without her consent to create a global strain of cells used the world over?

David “Sonny” Lacks will answer that question and more when he visits Johnson County Community College.

In an Actor’s Studio-like conversation at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, in Polsky Theater in the Carlsen Center, he’ll discuss his mother, Henrietta Lacks, a poor tobacco farmer and the title character of the non-fiction bookThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

The event is free, and the public is invited to attend.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the 2012-2013 Common Read selection at JCCC. Students from Composition I classes were assigned the book, as were students from the dental hygiene and practical nursing programs.

Sonny Lacks’ appearance is a capstone to months of reading, writing, studying and discussing Henrietta Lacks, the originator of the famous HeLa cells.

HeLa cells are instrumental in medical research, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization and more, yet the woman behind these cells was all but forgotten until Skloot discovered Lacks’ name and history.

Skloot learned that in 1951, Henrietta Lacks unknowingly “donated” cells – both cancerous and cancer-free cells – that had an amazing propensity for growth. The cells were known as the “HeLa” strain, so named after the first two letters of Lacks’ first and last name.

In his appearance, Sonny Lacks will share what it meant to find out – decades after the fact – that his mother’s cells were being used in laboratories around the world, bought and sold by the billions. His visit puts a personal face to big issues such as the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics and the legal battles over “informed consent.”

Lorie Paldino, adjunct instructor, English, and chairperson of the Common Read program, said she thought Sonny Lacks’ visit was the perfect way to personalize those issues.

“It’s a great way of getting the family’s perspective,” she said.

The JCCC Common Read Program is in its fourth year. Common read programs have grown in popularity in communities across the nation. Colleges and universities have used such programs to infuse fresh academic and social experiences, promote critical thinking and reflection, and bolster reading beyond the classroom.

Sonny Lack’s appearance is also part of the college’s Scholar-in-Residence program, designed to bring visiting scholars to students, faculty and the public. It is co-sponsored by the English and Journalism division.

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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Education


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