Why not make the punishment fit the so-called crime?

It may be time, for someone to play devils advocate here, as the national media continues to report a situation that, while despicable in nature, may be misleading people in some respects. This situation has caused strong reaction throughout the sports community and the general public alike, with former NBA players, current superstars and many other prominent individuals of pop culture voicing their opinion toward the “former” owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling.

Yes, his comments were racially charged and left a disgusting taste in the mouth, but question the manner in which this audio was obtained and I raise a thought not mentioned by the mainstream.

The situation bothered me from the very beginning based on the news outlet that released the information, TMZ. This publication is built upon destroying celebrity lives without inhibition and reporting simply to stir up controversy. But I digress.

Still, the manner of which the audio was obtained seems even more ludicrous, as his so-called “girlfriend” recorded a private conversation between the two, secretly, during a high-tension argument in Sterling’s own home.

He discusses what he believes to be an inappropriate act by his companion, an act based upon his beliefs, no matter how skewed they may be.

Sterling describes the picture of society painted in his mind, a society covered by a cloak of unfairness and racial bias. It’s a bleak view from a tired man raised during a time period completely different from the contemporary, accepting one we live in today. At that time, thoughts like his were the norm, and he has struggled to distance himself from those attitudes.

Maybe the reaction to this situation is justified, but I question the punishment.

We have seen similar incidents derail celebrities from Paula Dean to professional athletes like Philadelphia Eagle Riley Cooper, but now we choose to take inconceivable action, removing Sterling from all things NBA, from organizational duties to even viewing games, and fining him $2.5 million dollars. This reaction is commended by nearly everyone, it would seem, but I find it hard to see the punishment fitting of the crime.

The man made a mistake, one that was committed in the comfort of his own home with a woman he thought he could trust. While that does not excuse the behavior, it gives the topic a relevance that us common folk should find relatable.

All I expect is that the judgment be equal in the eyes of all the public, but based upon comments made in past years, some outlandish “mouth runnings” get swept under the proverbial rug.

A case in point came on Saturday afternoon when former NBA player and current front-office employee for the Knicks Larry Johnson took to Twitter to make an asinine comment of his own, saying black people are “focusing on the wrong thing” and having a separate, all black league that is “our own” is the key.

Well, pardon me, Larry, but I think that separate and equal idea was attempted before, and we saw how well that worked.

A sword is made with two sides, and so are the issues still facing our society. Tolerance and respect moves in both directions, or at least it needs to if we want it to work.

Sterling may be an intolerant scapegoat, but he may just be the beacon of light we need to inspire continued progress.