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What’s Wrong with Donald Sterling?

The world watched Donald Sterling, Monday, on CNN with Anderson Cooper attempt to clear up his racist statements.

The world watched Donald Sterling, Monday, on CNN with Anderson Cooper attempt to clear up his racist statements. The delusions we witnessed, from saying everyone loves him including the Clippers, to crying sporadically, to vulgar comments against Magic Johnson have made some see there are things about Sterling that are not right. Perhaps it’s deeper than his opinions.

The day before his CNN sit-down, wife Rochelle Sterling told Barbara Walters that she felt her husband of 60 years was suffering from early onset dementia. It’s the same affliction that's made headlines with currently missing radio legend Casey Kasem. After a brief survey of symptoms of this deadly and debilitating disorder, as well as rewinding and re-listening to Sterling’s responses during his interview with Cooper, we wonder if Sterling has the same suffering as Kasem.    

According to WebMD, dementia is a not a disease. Described as a group of symptoms manifested by the degeneration or loss of nerve cells, dementia shows itself in a myriad of ways such as problems with learning, memory, judgment, decision-making, and language. Alzheimer’s disease is the cause of 50 to 60 percent of those diagnosed with dementia. Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease are also prominent causes as well as alcohol or drug related dementia, vitamin B12 deficiency, and folate deficiency. Lewy body disease, liver disease, kidney disease and lung disease can all lead to dementia as well. This affliction is only curable 20 percent of the time.

While listening to Sterling explain himself during his baffling sit down with Anderson Cooper, Sterling’s slurred speech, confused demeanor, and inability to censor himself were in line with the symptoms for dementia.


Sterling often seemed confused and befuddled by his own actions, as well as those of interviewer Anderson Cooper. V. Stiviano told Barbara Walters that she recorded Sterling’s racist rantings so that he could remember what he said.  But Sterling denied this, saying he didn’t know Stiviano was recording him. Yes, this could be a lie. Although memory loss is a classic dementia symptom. 


For a former trial lawyer turned real estate mogul, he appeared to have a loose conceptual grasp on how grave his circumstances were. Seeming to not consult with a publicist before spontaneously sitting down for an exclusive with a globally renowned journalist, Donald Sterling illustrated that he is suffering from some kind of ailment that affected his judgment and candor.

There are other health issues that seem to also contribute to his erratic, mind boggling outbursts. Both ESPN and the New York Post have reported that Donald Sterling has been battling prostate cancer. Aside from surgery, chemotherapy is one of the most common treatments of prostate cancer.  According to cancer.net, changes in thinking and memory loss are common side effects of radiation that can alter the brain for years afterwards.

We were unable to locate any literature that states how dementia or radiation alters a person’s entire belief system. And although we will concede the possibility that Donald Sterling is suffering from early onset dementia affecting his candor, speech, cognitive abilities and demeanor; there is nothing that says it makes stark raving racists out of cuddly liberals.  Donald Sterling’s rants are who he is and nothing will ever change that. The facts is that the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers suffers from yet another disease, a sociological contagious one called racism. 


As is often the case of those afflicted by this issue, Sterling doesn’t believe his statements and beliefs are those of a racist. However, when questioned by Anderson Cooper on AC 360, Sterling could not recall why he would say such things. A clear symptom of the racism disease: Ignorance.

Could it be that Sterling’s mind is so devastated that he forgot he was a racist? Is it possible that this apologetic, weeping and confused state is symptomatic of real ailments altering his mind to the point of confusion? Or is it simply the obvious fact that his hateful ramblings are indicative of a true mindset?


Mind-reading technology is at least a century away and we’re only left with conjecture and speculation. But one thing is certain, Donald Sterling is a sick man on multiple levels. Unworthy of pity, he absolutely should be made accountable for his racist statements – whether made private and revealed illegally in a public forum. But his mind is clearly not indicative of a healthy male of eight decades with stable faculties. Because if Sterling was in a sound state, even at his age being a disgusting racist behind closed doors, he’d have the right mind and mental wherewithal to censor and correct himself in a public forum.

 

Starting his career as lead writer for EURweb.com back in 1998, Ricardo A Hazell has served as Senior Contributor with The Shadow League since coming to the company in 2013. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the South China Sea Morning Post, the Root and many other publications. At TSL he is charged with exploring black cultural angles where they intersect with the mainstream.