Donald Sterling Is Not Your Problem

Posted on May 6, 2014 by Robert Ringer


Before I get started, let me say at the outset that I’m not defending Donald Sterling.  He doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend him, because he’s entitled to think and say whatever he wants to — anywhere, anytime, and certainly in his own home.  Whether he’s a saint or a sinner is irrelevant to me.

Unfortunately for those who demand that Donald Sterling be tarred and feathered in front of the Staples Center at high noon, it’s not likely to happen.  Dorky Adam Silver (commissioner of the NBA) jumped at the opportunity to play the role of tough guy for the Robespierre-crazed masses, but it was mostly for show.  As an attorney, he certainly must know that there is nothing in the NBA’s bylaws that comes close to covering what an owner can and cannot say in his own home.

If Article 13 (the provision that deals with termination of an owner’s franchise) of those bylaws is what Silver is counting on to force Sterling out of the league, he’s going to look quite foolish if The Donald pulls out all legal stops and starts filing lawsuits en masse, which history tells us he is wont to do.

Even if Sterling is a “racist” — a word I put in quotes because its meaning has become so diluted as a result of shameless overuse by those (both in and outside of the government) who continually profit by stirring up ill will among races  — there’s nothing in the termination clause of the NBA bylaws that allows the league to force him to sell his team because one person, or even one million people, are offended by something he said in the privacy of his home.

Donald Sterling is no Boy Scout, to be sure, but his remarks were nothing compared to the daily rants of race hustlers like Al Sharleton (credit Chris Plante), Jesse Jackson, Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Jeremiah Wright, Spike Lee, and a growing number of professional athletes.

If everyone is going to be punished for every offensive comment they make, either in or outside of their home, we’re all in big trouble.  Back in 2001, I recall negotiating a business deal over the phone with a doctor from Kentucky who, at one point during our discussion, casually said to me, “Look, I don’t want you to think I’m trying to Jew you down, but …”

First of all, I wasn’t recording him.  Second, while his remark caught me by surprise, I let it pass, said my goodbyes, and decided not to deal with him again.  No fuss … no muss … next subject.  Would the same people who are calling for Donald Sterling’s head demand that the American Medical Association strip that Kentucky doctor of his license to practice medicine?

While his remark was a turnoff to me, I believe he has every right to say whatever he wants, and let the marketplace decide his fate — i.e., let individuals choose whether or not they want to use his medical services, do business deals with him, or be involved with him socially.  The marketplace is the only perfect arbiter on earth.

And how about Daniel Snyder’s refusal to refrain from using the word “Redskins” as his team’s nickname?  Can the NFL’s other owners vote to force him to sell his team if they believe his attitude is racist?  Where does it stop?

In any event, I’m not interested in opining on the merits or lack thereof of Donald Sterling’s case.  That will be up to the courts and the race-fixated mobs who roam the country in search of the next great “social-justice” issue.  (Yes, the mobs will have a big influence on the outcome of any such court proceedings, just as they always do in the United States of Lawlessness.)

Personally, whenever there’s a big media blitz about some perceived wrongdoing, I prefer to ignore the hysteria and think about what I can learn from the situation that could be useful to me.  Off the top of my head, following are a handful of lessons that I believe are worth gleaning from the Sterling media circus — lessons that you can use to improve yourself and your own life

  1. People say negative things behind your back all the time.  If you don’t already know that, wake up!  If you do know it, don’t let it bother you.  Whenever I hear that someone has said something unflattering about me, I opt to take the rationally selfish approach and do my best to ignore it — especially when I know it’s patently false.  I hope, for your sake, that you do the same.
  2. Don’t buy into the hate-speech scam.  People have opinions, some of which you may like, some of which you may not like.  Best to leave all that nonsense up to the PC Police, who achieve mental orgasms by harassing (perceived) evil speakers.  You don’t have time to get bogged down in group protests if you’re interested in bettering your life.
  3. “They” say that hate speech is bad, but what’s worse is the idea that someone actually believes he has the moral authority to decide what constitutes hate speech in the first place.  Of course, if someone hurls a remark directly at you, and you, in your sole judgment, consider it to be “hateful,” that’s your prerogative.  As an individual, you have a right to make a determination about speech that is aimed specifically at you.  But before you get yourself all worked up over it, remember what mom taught you about sticks and stones.
  4. Learn to reject hypocrisy and hypocrites.  In the Sterling saga, the hypocrisy is so thick it’s stifling, as you already know if you’ve been following the story at all.  The world is full of hypocrites, especially in politics (which is really what hate speech is all about).  Best you focus on policing yourself to make sure that you are not guilty of hypocrisy.
  5. Never forget that friends and sweethearts have a way of becoming enemies.  Make sure your mouth understands that.  Talk is not cheap.  On the contrary, it has proven to be quite capable of destroying lives.  Think before you open your mouth.
  6. In the same vein, be vigilant about not making The Big Mistake.  We all make little mistakes on a daily basis, but be careful about making a mistake so big that it can threaten your very survival.

    In Donald Sterling’s case, maybe he’s a terrible person — I have no idea — but I suspect his remarks (which, while not nearly as bad as those that have been made by some of his most vocal critics) were nothing more than the angry rants of an old guy who was mad at his middle-school girlfriend.

    This is where mom’s advice comes in handy again:  If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.  There’s a reason why aphorisms like this have been around forever:  They’re true.  Instead of wasting time fretting over Donald Sterling’s remarks, concentrate on what comes out of your mouth.

  7. The best protection against becoming Sterlingized (a form of sterilization performed by the loud crowd) is to follow a simple rule:  Live every moment as though the whole world were watching and write every e-mail as though the whole world were going to be reading it — something politicians never seem to learn.

Finally, of course, never — EVER — try to persuade people to change their fundamental beliefs, no matter how misguided you may think they are.  Why?  Because you will fail, and you’ll waste a lot of valuable time in the process.  It’s called opportunity cost.

Use your time to focus on your own life.  The only person over whom you have total control is you.  Put your efforts into purifying your own life, and forget about the Donald Sterlings of the world and the rabble-rousers who live for the thrill of trying to destroy them.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

43 responses to “Donald Sterling Is Not Your Problem”

  1. Paul Anthony says:

    An excellent example of common sense, yet another term from the past that has been overlooked lately.

    • Phil says:

      No kidding. Seems like govt. has so taken away the natural consequences that accrue from a lack of common sense that people no longer feel the need to exercise that muscle. But Big Daddy won't be able to protect us from that lack of discipline much longer, i.e., once it goes broke.

  2. Terry Johnson says:

    Just another example of how far the US has fallen. We used to be a nation of winners. We have become a nation of whiners.

  3. lonny sterling says:

    All the sensational drama queens get all the attention. That's why people harp on all this crap. As for the "jew" comment made by the Dr. It wouldn't have bothered me at all. It's just an old saying, he wasn't actually hating on Jews. I think there should be some kind of Grandfather clause for people raised in a different era who aren't up to speed on the new politically correct world we live in. Oh, and by the way, Donald Sterling is not my relitive.

    • Jurgy says:

      "I think there should be some kind of Grandfather clause for people raised in a different era who aren't up to speed on the new politically correct world we live in." … by your logic then, we should be allowed to say "nigger" without repercussions, right lonny?

      • Steve says:

        Who should decide the repercussions, Jurgy, except the marketplace? Should we fine him? Put him in prison? Or …? Of course he can say that word if he wants, and let the chips fall where they may.

      • DOL says:


  4. Jean says:

    Thank you – I heartily endorse the idea to "…let the marketplace decide his fate …." Sterling was well known for holding certain unsavory ideas about blacks to everyone in his sphere, including the players who could have been offended enough not to want to have a contract with the Clippers, as well as the bi-racial mistress who is being portrayed as some sort of heroine in all of this. Apparently, the pro-ball contract and the Ferrari were more important than principles.

  5. Harold Hunt says:

    Mr. Ringer,

    I first read your book, "Restoring the American Dream" when I was in high school…….I'm 58 now.

    I have quoted you many times and told numerous people over the years that your book I just referenced should be required reading in all high schools before anyone can graduate.

    As always……your comments regarding Donald Sterling are dead on correct. Thé général public is so stupid and this "hèrd mentality" is really getting old.

    Can no one think for themselves and see what is thé correct response to life's daily news and daily trials?

    I respect everything you say because it always rings so true.


  6. Robertus says:

    I was struggling within myself, yesterday, to create a concise phrase which would adequately describe Adam Silver's actions in this issue. You just did it for me. Many thanks.

  7. Ellis Baxter says:

    I could not agree more. A sick girlfriend is his fault; bad taste is on him… but I read this because I am tired of hearing of this person. I had not heard of him before this so called news story. I am amazed that the government is publishing false GDP, Unemployment, So called National Debt, CPI, Inflation and deflation, numbers each week. There has not been a major event since 1943 that the government has told the truth about. And this guy is the NEWS? The more research I do them more there is to find … I just wish every one would just get focused on important things other than this reprobate and his sick mistress ….

  8. Marte says:

    I so do agree. What you say in your own home in a private conversation is nobody's business but your own. I suspect those who are trying to destroy Mr. Sterling have probably said worse.

    And so what? Are we not all entitled to our own opinions? Apparently not.

    No one is focused on the girlfriend, but I have to wonder about her motives in releasing that tape. What was HER agenda?

    By the way, I do agree with Lonnie. That "jew" remark was so common in an earlier era that I think it had nothing to do with one's opinion about Jews. There were many similar sayings, and I doubt if anyone even thought about the ethnicity of the groups named. But then, I'm a blonde and I laugh at blonde jokes. I'm also a woman and laugh at "women jokes," so what do I know? Maybe I have a retarded "offense response."

  9. Virginia says:

    Talk is NOT cheap – so true. Think before you speak. If you can't say something nice….don't say it at all.
    Are these concepts still being taught to children? I hope so. Too many adults need to re-visit them for sure.

  10. Murray Suid says:

    One of the things that annoyed me about the Sterling case was that he was secretly recorded. I haven't heard many complaints about that kind of violation of privacy.

    Yes, Robert gives good advice when he says we should imagine what we say and write to be open to the world. But still, isn't it wrong–maybe criminally wrong–to record someone and then publish the recording? What are we to make of the media that participate in this–to my mind–gross violation of a basic right to privacy.

  11. The leadership or the lack thereof is the problem.

    Edward J Campbell

  12. Tex says:

    You’d never-ever worry about what other people think of you – – if you realized how seldom they do.

  13. Peter Wright says:

    Wonderful, some sane and rational remarks about an incident that should never have received any publicity at all.

    It’s amazing that the those who complain the most about racism do the most to stir it up.

    Like poking your child’s cut finger with a stick instead of treating it, and then calling the media to see how bad it is.

  14. Jim Hallett says:

    You can tell a lot about a place by what people focus on, and it is indeed more damning evidence for America when stoies like this dominate, while parasites in DC continue to steal, kill, lie and destroy the very fabric of good that was intended for our country. The race hustlers and PC crowd want to demand that everyone agree with their concept (they are incredibly INtolerant of those who do not). I may not want to hang out or dine with Donald Sterling, but he has been very generous on many occasions. Many have taken his money, but want to roast him anyway. The last 2 paragraphs of the artilce are a good reminder, as I have often found out what a waste it is to try and change the "progressive" crowd into adopting lbertarian and ethical principles.

  15. Reality Seeker says:

    This article was well worth the time it took to read it.

    I agree with everything but a few minor points, e.g., "the marketplace is the only perfect arbiter on earth". No, it's not perfect; however, it is so much better than being told what is right and wrong by "race-fixated mobs" and those profiting from race baiting.

    I also completely disagree with the following advise: "Finally, of course, never — EVER — try to persuade people to change their fundamental beliefs, no matter how misguided you may think they are. Why? Because you will fail, and you’ll waste a lot of valuable time in the process. It’s called opportunity cost". This part of the article is total nonsense.

    I've personally witnessed complete transformations on the part of those with inveterate, "fundamental beliefs"— including racism— as they were coached by a greater mind. Again, how and why did they change? Partly because they were persuaded by a Promethean thinker who adroitly made the case for a better way of thinking. "A Voice of Reason" is a fundamental part of the free market.

    • Rob Larson says:

      I think Robert was talking about the propensity of true believers to continue to believe despite the impact reality might have on their beliefs. I think you’ll agree that no person can or will be able to change their fundamental beliefs without being ready to question them. Until and unless that happens, then yes, Robert is right. When they begin to question the assumptions under which they operate, you are correct.

  16. Stephan F says:

    The doctor's statement: " Look, I don’t want you to think I’m trying to Jew you down, …” was a bit politically incorrect based upon the sick, politically correct environment we unfortunately find ourselves in, but I don't consider it one which requires expulsion (to each his own). Maybe the good doctor was a jerk or maybe he's a nice guy. Don't know, don't care. But to judge him as someone you want out of your life solely on one harmless sentence (but possibly racists by some overly-sensitive people) seems a bit judgmental, and way too politically correct. " I let it pass, said my goodbyes, and decided not to deal with him again." Really? The good doc vilified himself by this one statement alone? Why? What was it that was so devious, cruel, or dishonest that would require such treatment? Of all people to have fallen into the pc trap, please, not RJR.

    However, the rest of the piece was exquisite and pretty much sums up my feelings about the subject. For additional analysis & a must read piece, see:

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      I actually thought about qualifying that statement, because his comment wasn't the main reason I didn't deal with him anymore.

      • Stephan F. says:

        Had pondered that possibility. Thanks for clarifying.
        Best Regards.

      • Scott theczech says:

        I hope you don't feel the need to do too much qualifying; anyone who has been acquainted you and your writing know there usually is more to the story. The readers should keep things in perspective and consider the context.

  17. Capt. Dave Button says:

    The moving finger writes and having writ moves, nor ALL your piety or wit shall have it back
    NOR all your tears wash out a word of it…Omar Kiam..

  18. Capt. Dave Button says:

    Try Again…."The Moving finger writes and having writ moves on Not All your piety or wit shall have
    it back to cancel half a line…No rALL your tears wash out a work of it….Omar Kiam

  19. Doug Hedlund says:

    "“They” say that hate speech is bad, but what’s worse is the idea that someone actually believes he has the moral authority to decide what constitutes hate speech in the first place."

    —If Sterling's taped comments about not associating with somebody simply because of their race doesn't constitute hate speech to you, Robert, then I suggest you stick your head back in the sand. Utter drivel.

  20. serge says:

    All the world's a stage. Except today it has cameras and recording devices even in our own private homes.

  21. Annette says:

    So the privacy of our own home is no longer an option Doug Hudland! You must be purer than the driven snow! Anyway a guy got arrested here in Australia for quoting Winston Churchill , deemed hate speech …aren’t we all quick to judge

  22. Freeman says:

    Donald Sterling, like Robert Ringer, is not a private person anymore. He is a brand. His business outputs and ideas are being consumed by the wider public on a big scale. He influences the way most people think and form their attitudes. He makes millions of money from fans of his club of all races in the world who wrongly think he is not racially bias. He shapes and influences wider public opinion across borders. What he says in private and in public is equally important. He should not be a pretender simply to make money. And that goes for you, Robert Ringer. You write good universal ideas in books to sell to us but come totally short of those standards when it comes to crunch time like this one. Put on your global leader cap please and do not crawl back to the dirty past of drawn racial line. Most people are rising up to dismantle this 'big barrier' to a better world! It creates "us" and "them" syndrome which fuels senseless hatred and war.

  23. Tom says:

    Hi Robert, Spot on, as always.
    You might be interested in a story on the BBC website ( entitled "Tal Fortgang not sorry for being white and privileged".

  24. Pitch says:

    Very well written, as usual.

  25. Mike Palermo says:

    Robert, While everything I have read of yours, you never mention your book "How To Find Happiness During The Collapse Of Western Civilization". This fine book was given to me by my Father In Law back in the early 80's, and it is truly prophetic!

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      I don't recall the details, but due to the fact that my distributor, Harper & Row, was in a state of transition at the time, the marketing never had a chance to get off the ground. I always (only half-jokingly) tell people that it only sold 10 copies, and four of those were bought my mother, father, and two sisters. However, as things have pretty much progressed in line with what I wrote in the book, I have long felt that most people couldn't handle the raw, harsh truth.

  26. Phil says:

    Funny, Mike, it is one of my favorite books as well! But I have had no luck at all finding other than one copy in an old New Orleans bookstore years back. Hence, I take especially good care of it. Have wondered why it was not more widely distributed or marketed. Yes, it is prophetic! Maybe I will see if there is a Kindle version out there and give it a shot as I travel back to the U.S. over the next week.

    I would probably say it is my favorite Robert Ringer book, though that is hard because I have enjoyed them all. Hope God takes good care of Mr. Ringer.

  27. Mike Palermo says:

    Whatever happened to "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"?
    Are we so unsure of who we are, or lacking so badly in self worth that we are destroyed by the words of some bully?
    I happen to be 50% Italian, and I learned along time ago, that the best response to some ethnic slur or joke against me was to come back with a better joke against my heritage. If the" attack" was done in fun, my response was taken in kind. If it was presented, hoping to inflict pain, the response ruined their plan.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      I've always loved this approach. It definitely takes the wind of the other person's sails.

  28. Bill says:

    Nice to see at least a few people out there get it. Too bad we're in such a (very) small minority. We all know that if Sterling was black and said racist remarks about whites, nobody would blink an eye. And that's "equality." Right?


  29. Helen Spingola says:

    America is drunk on celebrities and scandal-type stories; even a supposedly
    "news" show features dancers, rappers, or some star pushing his/her latest novel.
    Sickening to the 9th degree, while we are slowly going over the cliff. God help America!

  30. Robby Bonfire says:

    I find it interesting that Commissioner Adam “Hi Yo” Silver is more interested in exploiting Donald Sterling’s best Archie Bunker imitation than in curtailing the deliberate losing of games, a practice referred to as “tanking, which reached epidemic proportions in his league’s just concluded regular season.

    Used to be that altering the outcome of sports contests, from basketball point-shaving scandals, from fixed horse races, from football point-spread fixes, to The Black Sox World Series tanking scandal, to boxing fixes, etc., were Federal criminal offenses that were adjudicated through the courts.

    Times have changed. Now you can overtly do less than your best, in a sports context, and not even be sanctioned; but your unpopular “freedom of speech” private utterances can cost you millions of dollars in fines and expulsion from your privileged and exclusive social and business circle

    Next up, we can look for “racist” criminal charges to be leveled at Daniel Snyder, who is going to be joining Mr. Sterling on the sidelines as a result of the savaging and criminalizing of his (former) freedom of choice personal dictates.

    This is a country which decimated the Native American tribes – all the way from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean; which routed the Mexican people off their own land, which we then expropriated; and which enslaved the African people who were brought here in chains, and several generations of their descendents. Having succeeded in white-washing that odious history, we are now making amends by punishing ~the words~ of select citizens who never killed, maimed, tortured, enslaved nor expropriated the property of anybody. And who, in fact, financially compensated – in the mega-millions of dollars, the talent base in their respective organizations.

    Isn’t this all just a bit hypocritical and opportunistic on the part of the vengeful protagonists?

  31. karllembke says:

    Given the trend this incident illustrates, it may behoove all of us to behave as if we're on a live mic at all times. Because given the state of technology now and in the immediate future, we will be.

  32. DOL says:


  33. Patrick says:

    I never heard of Donald Sterling, but since I consider the NBA to be a bit of joke anyways, not at all shocked such a thing happened.