The National Basketball Association continues to abase and disgrace itself (this was better, but still not nearly sufficient), making clear that maintaining its lucrative gravy train to the huge Chinese market is more important than standing up for American values such as freedom of speech, small-'L' liberal institutions, and democracy. The latest evidence is the ejection of two fans from a game in Philadelphia -- not in China, mind you -- over their pro-Hong Kong signs and chants:
Do the 76ers -- a team named after the year the Declaration of Independence was signed in their city -- or the NBA have policies against political signs at games? Doesn't seem so:
According to the Wells Fargo Center’s website, “signs must be in good taste and appropriate for the event.” The site also notes the “policy is subject to change based on the Wells Fargo Center management’s discretion and without notice.” The NBA’s policy prohibits “obscene or indecent messages on signs or clothing,” but does not mention political statements.
Even if some rule is dredged up to 'justify' this move, Allahpundit makes a good point: "Should the NBA have a 'no political signs' [policy], by the way? A Twitter pal notes that it’s rich that the world’s “wokest professional sports league” has no problem with activism among coaches and players, up to and including political messages being worn on warm-up attire before the game, while the plebes who pay their salaries are forbidden to broadcast their own views during NBA events." He's right. Players have worn league-sanctioned, politically-charged slogans on their bodies during warm-ups -- with the media applauding along. How's the media handling this controversy. As you read this, remember that ESPN is heavily financially invested in the success of NBA basketball:
An ESPN exec sent a memo to staffers mandating that coverage of the Morey/China story focus on basketball and avoid political discussions about China and Hong Kong https://t.co/kuXIiQwznh— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) October 8, 2019
By the way, it's not just the NBA and ESPN selling out and bowing to Communist China's sensitivities. Read this story about a gaming company, or this one about Apple, or this astonishing one about a prominent hotel chain:
This anecdote from Josh Rogin is INSANE. Does corporate America really know what they are doing? pic.twitter.com/8fOmPCtYpi— Jay Cost (@JayCostTWS) October 9, 2019
Meanwhile, back to basketball. The Chinese government in Beijing is clearly turning the screws hard on the NBA, making it abundantly clear just how financially painful things will get if any other league-affiliated people "step out of line" by defending democracy in Hong Kong (I'm sure this lesson applies equally, if not more, to condemnations of the regime's endless human rights abuses):
The Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA Cares event in Shanghai was canceled Wednesday just hours before it was scheduled to begin, according to multiple reports. The cancellation is the latest fallout from a recent tweet by Rockets GM Daryl Morey that showed support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong. The NBA said the cancellation off the Lakers event, which was supposed to benefit the Special Olympics, was not its decision. This came a day after the Chinese government canceled the Nets’ NBA Cares event. Though there has been no word about whether the two preseason games would be canceled, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV previously said it will no longer air the games because they vehemently disagreed with comments Silver made Monday in Japan backing Morey’s right to free speech. “We’re strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right to freedom of expression,” the statement read. “We believe that any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech.” CCTV is also reviewing all of its cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA, it said in a statement posted to CCTV Sports’ official social media account.
The message is crystal clear: Sorry, special olympians, an American tweeted something about Hong Kong, so your event is canceled. Also, here's what doesn't count as free expression. It is not subtle who the bad guys are here. The question is whether American corporations, organizations and brands will continue to effectively take their side, or tap dance, for profit. This is a deeply disconcerting but important point:
I think as free marketers we really need to grapple with this. In the past, a lot was written about exporting democratic values via commerce, but less consideration was given to prospect that we'd be importing anti-democratic values, such as censorship. https://t.co/MDT6w6KGoF— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) October 8, 2019
I'll leave you with an excellent move from the Trump/Pompeo State Department, as well as a spectacular "apology" from the creators of South Park over their devastating recent episode on American companies' craven boot-licking:
Good for @SecPompeo & the @realDonaldTrump administration.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) October 8, 2019
Wonder if @Disney or the @NBA have any on-the-record thoughts on China’s concentration/re-education camps for Muslims ?? pic.twitter.com/QUGNPiiOe9