They were private conversations.
EDIT 4/16: A similar issue just happened in another part of the country: NH police commissioner hit for racist Obama slur.
The commissioner in question, Robert Copeland, was overheard in a restaurant while engaged in a private conversation. The woman who overheard him wrote to town officials. Copeland refused to apologize.
The video at the link above shows a large group of town residents demanding Copeland resign.
More than 100 people packed into the meeting room at the Wolfeboro Public Library, where librarian Joyce Davis said she can’t remember an issue in 40 years that has sparked so much emotion and outcry. Many of the people wore on their shirts handmade stickers saying, “Resign,” directed at Copeland. (Source, same as above)
“…Davis said she can’t remember an issue in 40 years that has sparked so much emotion and outcry.”
Over a bad word uttered in a private conversation. Only two people at the meeting had the courage and decency to defend Copeland.
With the NSA spying on everyone and video cameras and recorders everywhere, it’s time to remind that lynch mob in Wolfeboro that what people do and say in private is their business. I know for a fact that there is not one person at that meeting who, if we reviewed everything they have said in private, would not have uttered many embarrassing statements. We honor privacy and freedom of speech in this country for a reason.
The Sterling and Copeland cases are excellent examples of the dangerous power of semiotics. As librarian Davis said, she “…can’t remember an issue in 40 years that has sparked so much emotion and outcry.”