From the Right



The NBA vs Enes Freedom, Remains Silent on Torture in China!

John Stossel on

Teenage basketball star Enes Kanter was shocked when his teammate criticized President Barack Obama on Facebook. "Dude, what are you doing?" he exclaimed. He feared his teammate would be jailed. Kanter is from Turkey, where, as Kanter explains in my new video, people who criticize the president do go to jail. His teammates laughed at him. "They were explaining to me about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, expression, freedom of protest." That inspired him.

When Turkey's president shut down news outlets, Kanter decided, "I'm going to say something about it." He tweeted, wrote op-eds, gave interviews. Turkey's authoritarian rulers retaliated. They jailed his father. "They wanted to set an example, this is what happens if you talk against the Turkish government." The NBA supported his protest. "(NBA commissioner) Adam Silver texted me twice and said, 'Whatever you need, we are here for you. Keep doing what you're doing.'"

But then he criticized China. Slightly. He wrote, "Free Tibet" on his basketball shoes. "There's no rule against it," he says. Other players put "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe" on their shoes. Criticizing America is encouraged by the NBA. But "Free Tibet" on a shoe was too much. Celtics officials told him to take them off.

He refused. "I was like, I'm not taking them off because it's literally freedom of speech."

Actually, it's not. America's freedom of speech applies to government. The NBA can legally censor an employee who might cost them money. They did exactly that to Kanter. He didn't get to play.

It's clear what the NBA feared. Just minutes after Kanter tweeted a photo of his shoes, China TV banned coverage of Celtics games. But just temporarily.


The Celtics traded Kanter to the Houston Rockets. The Rockets waived him. He's received no offers from other teams. "I could've played another six years," he says. He won't.

Some sports organizations defend their athletes against China's oppressive rules. When women's tennis player Peng Shuai accused a Chinese government official of sexual assault and then disappeared for a few days, the Women's Tennis Association said they would support her even if they lost money. The NBA won't.

They could stand up for the right of one player to speak, to peacefully criticize cruelty. It's reported that the NBA gets 10% of its income from China. The NBA makes billions. They can't risk 10%?

The NBA's games are extremely popular in China. Chinese leaders probably would have resumed TV coverage. It's not in their interest to ban NBA games forever.


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John Branch Kirk Walters Mike Peters Lisa Benson Peter Kuper Joey Weatherford