The NBA is Censoring Criticism of the Chinese Government—And it’s Entirely Un-American
The “NBA Cares” about human rights—unless money is involved, of course. While civil unrest between the Chinese government and Hong Kong protesters have worsened, China’s anti-protest influence in the West has been growing. The NBA recently censored a tweet by a Houston Rockets general manager, Daryl Morey, that showed support for Hong Kong’s protesters. The tweet in question said, “Fight for Freedom. Stand for Hong Kong.” This form of speech, of course, did not sit well with Chinese pro basketball officials. A Chinese consulate urged the Houston Rockets to “correct the error,” and the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has voiced its displeasure with the comment. In addition, the CBA cut its ties with the Houston Rockets, threatening business with a country with 1.4 billion people. As a result, the NBA has shamefully cowered away, removing and apologizing for the tweet in an effort to appease the Chinese communists. After all, they risk losing millions of dollars in potential profits by not doing business with them. Yet, this begs the question: so what?
This is not the first time a controversy has developed regarding Western censorship of ideas critical of China. A Mariott employee was once fired for using an account associated with the company to like a Twitter post of a Tibetan separatist group. Nearly six months ago, Gap apologized to China for producing a China T-shirt that didn’t include Taiwan, noting that they “respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” What the NBA has done regarding free speech is, however, particularly egregious. It is sometimes said that one cannot put a price on human life. However, though citizens in Hong Kong have been more than ever in need of help, the NBA has disregarded and censored support for them in an attempt to secure their future profits from China. These actions speak volumes of their greed and spinelessness. For a corporation that has, through the program “NBA Cares,” voiced their mission to address social issues around the world, this act of censorship is textbook hypocrisy.
It is a well-known fact that the First Amendment does not prevent private businesses like the NBA from suppressing free speech as they please. However, that does not diminish their moral obligation to uphold relevant and basic, yet crucial, American values: liberty and freedom of speech. The NBA has disregarded both in this case. They are not a political organization, but the human rights issues in China go beyond mere “politics.” Civil issues within China are not limited to just police brutality and immoral legislation. It also includes legal discrimination against Uighur Muslims and the literal harvesting of their organs. Despite all of these factors, it has been made abundantly clear that the NBA has made their choice: the prioritization of profits over human rights. It is ironic that a company whose success is based partly on many of the freedoms we as Americans enjoy today should turn their backs to such injustices.
While, in Hong Kong, anti-government protests have stepped up the violence, the Chinese government is cracking down on all expressions of sympathy for the protesters from the West.
I suggest these re-phrasings because they give the protesters and the Government something to DO instead of suggesting that somehow unrest simply worsens and influence simply grows.
Does that make sense?
That sentence makes more sense and seems a lot more useful. Thanks
You haven’t asked for special Feedback, Tenere, so I’ll try to restrict myself to a broad review and ignore details that might disappear in a substantial revision.
It’s a dangerous tactic to accuse an organization of hypocrisy in your first sentence, Tenere. If you’re right, go at it. But be sure you’re right or you’ll end up being critical of genuinely good works.
Civil unrest is usually understood to be from the ground up, not top down. So unrest BETWEEN the government and protesters is hard to parse. That wouldn’t matter so much, but you also add another uncommon and complex term: “anti-protest influence.” We’re quickly getting lost.
Now you’re tying the two threads together. The NBA doesn’t care about human rights. The Chinese government is being protested. The NBA wants to squelch support for protestors. Is that “anti-protest influence”?
Sounds pretty innocuous. Nothing there that would ever need to be censured in any reasonable society.
So, since you haven’t established that the Chinese Basketball Association has a REASON to be pathologically opposed to the slightest suggestion of independent thought, it’s not at all obvious, of course, that the tweet would have bothered them.
So, what I see so far is an active intelligence at work in the essay I’m reading. A writer very confident with opinions and ideas but who thinks all readers worth reaching have all the background they need to process the concepts here, enough to anticipate what the author might mean by “anti-protest influence.”
You’re masterful at Robust Subjects and Verbs already, Tenere. Cowered/Removing/Apologizing/Appease/Risk/Losing. You might substitute BREAKING business ties for the negative NOT DOING business.
Grammar purists would tell you “begs the question” doesn’t mean what you think it means. Literally it means “makes a beggar of the question” or “makes the question unnecessary.” You’ve used it to mean, “compels us to ask the question.” [I wouldn’t tell every student this; you’re a high achiever who might care to know the difference.]
So. You think a business like the NBA would be wrong to respond: “We’re a business. Business is driven by profit. We see no reason to insult our host country, create trouble, or put our business interests at risk. For what? To express our mild approval of a short-term disturbance in a sovereign nation’s governance?”
I’m not sure the catalog of other companies appeasing China helps your argument, Tenere. It partly exonerates them for following a well-trod corporate path of finding the least resistance. Maybe better to focus our attention on the particulars of this case.
Or . . . here’s a thought. Instead of “this is not the first time,” how about, “The stakes were lower for other companies’ appeasement of China’s touchy sensibilities. BEFORE Hong Kong raised the level of etc etc to world attention, they could be excused for etc etc, but NOW, with the focus on human rights etc etc, the impact of bowing to authority is etc etc.
You’re good at this, Tenere. You don’t need much help. But a better prep for readers in your Introduction and a more nuanced accusation that nails the NBA on its responsibility to be BETTER than its predecessors would really help here, for this reader.
Sound good? I’d appreciate your reaction. I love the give-and-take.
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Thanks, Professor Hodges. That bit about not giving enough background information did catch me off guard a little. I guess I’ve seen so much HK/China/NBA drama that I’ve forgotten that some people may still not even know what’s going on. But nevertheless it’s a good point.
About your counter to my “so what” argument, you’re probably right. I should probably make it clear why it’s wrong to assist in China’s censorship, even though it may look like a good business decision on the surface. That bit about the stakes being higher is also helpful.
Also, what would be a better word for “anti-protest influence” if it’s not already a reasonable choice? I did, in fact, refer to the influence China’s beliefs in censoring free speech has had in the West (i.e coercing Western companies with which China has business ties into assisting in their censorship of critical ideas; that would belong in the category of “anti-protest” ideas influencing Western businesses, no?). Are you saying I shouldn’t use the word unless I provide more background first, or the word doesn’t make much sense in any case? I’m rambling a lot about the word choice but I just want to be as clear as possible.
Anyways, I appreciate the criticism.
PS For the record, I planned to edit this more and ask for advice following my busy week of midterms. It’s a lot of work haha.
You do a good job in getting your point across. You develop your argument throughout the entirety of your editorial which makes your editorial very persuasive. You are not coy about your argument either. Your first sentence is a hook and draws readers in.
Overall I had a hard time finding anything wrong. There may be some grammar issues but I was unable to spot any.
I hope my feedback was useful to you in some way.
I’ll be back for peer review
I’ll be back for peer review
I will be back for peer review
Your editorial is very good. The presentation of information is well done. Your diction was well thought out. Your opinion is clear and your argument is strong. I am having trouble finding aspects of your editorial to critique. Overall, it is very well done.
I’ll be back for peer review