Steve Kerr, famously woke, socially conscious coach of the NBA Warriors, offered this take on the China/NBA controversy: “Again, we’re fortunate in this country to have free speech. I exercise that. But part of having free speech is also electing not to speak if you don’t feel comfortable about something.” When asked a follow-up on whether he was broadly supportive of the right of other NBA officials to speak on matters outside the U.S. and, specifically, if he believed (Daryl) Morey shouldn’t be fired for doing so. Kerr’s response: “I appreciate the fact that you have to ask me something like this. I get it. But I’d hope you’d appreciate my right to not answer that question. Because all it does it create a headline and a soundbite. I choose not to be a soundbite tonight. Probably too late for that tonight. I choose not to be that soundbite.”
Both TheDailyWire.com and NBCSports.com wrote about Mr. Kerr’s remarks, and except for their adjectives, the reports were very similar, but the adjectives often tell us more about the bias of the writer (and the audience their employer wants to attract) than anything about the subject. Wire described Kerr’s remarks as cowardly, NBC described the same remarks as thoughtful. Guess which one appeals to the “right” and which appeals to the “left”? I do agree with one thing–he is smart enough not o be the “soundbite.”
The best commentary on Kerr’s remarks came from TheAthletic.com: “A lot of social media discussion feeds off the hunt of hypocrisy as an end game. The way it’s played is that you capture your out-group’s hypocrisy for the pleasure of your in-group. The unstated goal of the hunt is to rob your foe of moral authority, in hopes that nobody will ever listen to them ever again. Nobody really wins the hypocrisy game, other than clout seekers. Kerr will continue to speak and if people agree with what he’s saying, they’re likely to resonate to it. Merely mocking Kerr and the other NBA figures for their silence doesn’t often convey a sense of how certain matters should be handled.
“Again, if NBA people don’t wish to comment due to fear of the censors, then they should not comment. That actually gives the public a better sense of what’s happening than these tortured rationalizations about why providing any commentary is simply impossible. The NBA’s leading figures are trying to maintain the pretense of open honesty while keeping their mouths shut on the relevant topic. It’s probably best they just do the latter rather than try to sell the former. The dishonesty is jarring and insofar as it is accepted as wisdom, it undermines the case of stateside residents who are actually making informed, salient judgments on the issue.”
I agree. My two problems with celebrities, be it in the world of professional sports or entertainment–though they are the same thing–speaking their opinions on events and mind-reading motives on the national and global stage are: they are not truthfully informed–they generally only pay attention to their own preferred media; they are unduly influenced by both their economic motives (“protecting their brand”) and maintaining popularity with their equally uninformed peer group. Still, they have the right to speak, or not speak. The rest of us have the right to listen, or not.
Another sports figure, Jacksonville Jaguars billionaire owner Shahid Khan, told the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit, “You have to respect the norms. An opinion…of the sovereign management of those countries is for those people.” Khan emigrated here from Pakistan as a penniless youth, and now owns companies in multiple countries. He is far more sophisticated and experienced in these matters than most other professional sports figures. He praises some and criticizes some of President Trump’s policies, rather than imputing motives and launching personal attacks. I am more likely to listen to him than someone like Kerr, who claims he is “more qualified” to speak about problems in this country than overseas “where I am not informed.” Mr., you aren’t informed about either–you just have opinions. Every terrible thing you liberals accuse Trump of “wishing he could do” (mind-reading anyone?), China has ACTUALLY DONE, and much worse. So you can refuse a White House visit because “Trump is evil” but can’t speak about China because you aren’t “well informed”? Puleeese…..
As Theodore Dalrymple of Takimag.com wrote: “The need to say something is often far greater than the need, or the capacity, of the speaker to say something important or worthwhile listening to. Many a person wants to communicate without having anything specific to communicate.” AMEN!