In one sense, I think there’s a benefit to all the attention given to such stories. As an advocate of limited government, I see public shaming as an effective tool for fighting racism. There was a time when Sterling’s remarks wouldn’t have been so controversial. The fact that he not only faces the loss of his team, but public humiliation, sends a strong message to other racists that such behavior is unwelcome in society.
Some also argue that episodes such as the one with Sterling are a useful way of demonstrating that racism still exists in America even when it doesn’t manifest itself in the form of slavery, lynching, or segregation.
But exposure to the story may have the opposite effect. Most white people listening to Sterling don’t hear themselves or their friends — they hear a crazy old guy with outlandish views. Arguably, hearing his bizarre rants makes it easier to dismiss concerns about broader racism, because — come on, how many people sound as ridiculous as he does?