Last night I was made aware of recent comments by the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban. He was talking about the Donald Sterling situation, the present owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who may be forced to sell his team for racial statements about black people and, specifically, Magic Johnson.

His positions were thus:

My mother always told me I could be anything I want.
Brittney Bush Bollay via Compfight

* He’s not sure it’s fair to judge someone on words they used in what was supposed to be a private conversation
* He believes everyone is prejudiced to a degree, and he used an example of a hooded black kid and bald tattooed man at night and the fears he might have in having to walk by them.
* He’s not sure it’s fair to have an ultimate penalty against someone for one transgression because, if it happens this time who could be the next target for an error in judgment.

First, since it’s Mark Cuban saying this, I can’t say that I’m overly surprised by the last point I threw up there. As someone who’s been fined millions of dollars by the NBA for his faux pas’ over the years I could see why he might be concerned about his own well being.

Second, if Cuban’s worried about judging Sterling on the words he initially used on a tape that he now says was a set up against him, then the things he said in his interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper to try, in his own way, to apologize, should be enough to erase those concerns.

Third, considering the examples Cuban used above, I think regardless of what someone looks like if you’re not being cautious of anyone who’s walking towards you or up on you from behind at night in today’s world you’re being naive, and I don’t care what neighborhood you live in. I stopped walking on dark streets in 2001 when I was in Houston and worried about a potential confrontation when this kind of suspicious guy, who was a little bigger than me, kept walking by me front and back until I stopped and prepared for a fight that never came. If that’s not more common sense than prejudice then I don’t know the meaning of the word.

With that said, let’s address the topic I posed in the title. Are we too quick to judge people on verbal errors in judgment these days? I mean, if I hear someone call black people “colored” should that automatically make me see that person in a totally different light than I might have before? Should anyone go to that person and try to set them straight on an archaic term that, these days, is seen as somewhat offensive?

The truth? I don’t know. It’s hard for me to answer this one because the reality is that it “depends”. It depends on intent; it depends on the audience; it depends on who’s saying it and in what context; it depends on whether the person “should” know better and be capable of altering the words they use, or cares about the words they use.

I could cite examples but I think the point has been made. In many ways it’s too easy to see where someone should know better, and sometimes it’s easy to tell whether they did it on purpose or not. We’ve come to the days where people would rather do or say something stupid, on purpose, and apologize for it later or say that they were “misunderstood” or “misquoted”; yeah, right.

Even though things could better,
darwin Bell via Compfight

We also have those instances where, because of age or not being around something all that much, someone might utter a phrase that they really didn’t have a way of knowing that it was inappropriate anymore, such as words people use for Asians or people born with mental disabilities.

Those of us in the know might be aghast sometimes, but if we think deeper about it we come to recognize certain things are truths, no matter how we feel. After all, I kind of gave Paula Deen a pass last year based on her age and background.

Once again it all comes down to consequences and what people are ready to deal with. Once you’re in an open forum, all bets are off. Even if you think something is private, like that sheriff in New Hampshire and Romney in a fund raiser back in 2012, in this day and age where smartphones can record anything you’d better make sure your friends are really your friends if you’re going to say something bad about someone else. And if you’re famous in any way… as we used to say, “check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

What’s your thought on this type of thing? If people get on someone for stupid statements, do they have as much right to do so as the person who uttered the phrase? Or should we give people a pass if they’ve never shown an inclination against a certain group, like Ellen Degeneres once gave a young actress a pass on her show when the woman said that something was “gay”?
 

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