Clippers Owner Donald Sterling: IPMS (Irritable Plantation Master Syndrome) Sufferer?

Written by Kevin Fobbs on May 1, 2014

When it comes to racism, the current candidate of the month has to be an 80-year-old who just happens to be owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and just happens to be a onetime recipient of the NAACP Lifetime Award. His name is Donald Sterling and he is guilty of harboring racist thoughts and using racially disrespectful language in private and in a hidden taped discussion by his girlfriend.

But there is a problem here that even bothers NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was once a coach for Sterling. He remarked in a Time Magazine piece, “She was like a sexy nanny playing ‘pin the fried chicken on the Sambo.’” Were the remarks real or cajoled out of Sterling.

Think about this seriously for a moment. For all of the race baiters and the liberals and even not so liberals who like to run in full stride with the head of Sterling on a pike, sure the remarks, uttered in a rambling, incoherent fashion, are unsupportable. But are utterances in private that are plied out of someone the indication of sane thought to make him appear to be a sufferer of, as Abdul-Jabbar calls it, IPMS or Irritable Plantation Master Syndrome?

Again, what is protected speech and what is not? Consider the remarks that you might make to a friend, an associate or even to your girl or boyfriend or spouse. Are these intended for public consumption and therefore can they be used to drag you through the public whipping post or worse?

Does the former NBA superstar have a point? Are the public, the NBA, and the self righteous, self anointed protectors of the public minority image of black or Hispanic people now corrected in the mind of Sterling? How dare this man utter such profane words and statements to his girlfriend in private? Again, Kareem has a valuable point. He also suggested, the girl friend, “blindfolded him and spun him around until he was just blathering all sorts of incoherent racist sound bites that had the news media peeing themselves with glee,” reported his piece in Time Magazine.

Let’s get one point totally clear up front. Sterling is definitely not an angel. He has a long and storied history of engaging in publicly cited cases of race discrimination. For instance:

— U.S. Dept. of Justice sued Sterling for engaging in housing discrimination. He is alleged to have mentioned that “Black tenants smell and attract vermin.” Year: 2006
— The Clippers owner was reported to have paid $2.73 million for discriminating against blacks, Hispanics, and families with children in his rental property. This was in 2009.
— Also in 2009, The NAACP gave this alleged racist who had been in all the city’s headlines a “Lifetime Award” and certainly not for being “Best Improved Racist.”
— A Clippers executive sued Sterling for race and age discrimination in that magical year of 2009 as well.

So again, the question surfaces, is this a man who is an insufferable person who suffers from Irritable Plantation Master Syndrome or is he a person who says all the things that others say in public concerning race, ethnicities and then goes back home to kick back and let his aging opinions hang loose and free for his girlfriend?

There is a direction that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is advocating and it does make sense. The six-time National Basketball Association champion suggests that the nation should be outraged that “private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played.” He also stresses that the betrayer of Sterling’s trust’s possible deals for a book or an appearance on Kathie Lee and Hoda or a possible sitcom should raise outrage.

In the end he advocates that Sterling should be stripped of his ownership of the Clippers, but for all the reasons which were openly known to the public and ignored by his loyal, liberal supporters, like the NAACP, who took his money.

Racism is inherently wrong and has no place in a civilized society but make certain that if private conversations and utterances are fair game then be certain that your private words are open season for attack.

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Kevin Fobbs
Kevin Fobbs has more than 35 years of wide-ranging experience as a community and tenant organizer, Legal Services outreach program director, public relations consultant, business executive, gubernatorial and presidential appointee, political advisor, widely published writer, and national lecturer. Kevin is co-chair and co-founder of AC-3 (American-Canadian Conservative Coalition) that focuses on issues on both sides of the border between the two countries.