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Tilting at Windmills

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August 18, 2010

DR. LAURA'S RACIST TIRADE LEADS TO RADIO SHOW'S END.... It takes an awful lot to force a conservative talk-radio host off the air, but as it turns out, there are apparently some limits. Just ask Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

If you're just joining us, a woman called Schlessinger's show last week with an upsetting problem. The caller is in an inter-racial marriage -- she's black, her husband is white -- and is offended when her husband's friends and family members make racist remarks. Schlessinger blamed the woman, telling the caller that she's "hypersensitive" -- a problem "bred by black activists" -- and needs a better sense of humor. To prove the point, Schlessinger repeated the N-word 11 times, defending it by saying "black guys say it all the time."

Last night, Schlessinger announced that she's ending her radio show.

Dr. Schlessinger made the announcement on Tuesday night on "Larry King Live," saying she made a decision not to renew her contract when it expires at the end of the year and suggesting that she did not want her opinions and language, however provocative, to be muzzled

"I want to regain my First Amendment rights," she said. "I want to be able to say what's on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is the time to silence a voice of dissent and attack affiliates, attack sponsors. I'm sort of done with that."

But she stressed that she was not retiring, only ending her show, and would continue to write books and appear at speaking engagements.

"I'm not quitting," she told Larry King. "I feel energized actually -- stronger and freer to say the things that I believe need to be said for people in this country."

Oddly enough, last week, facing criticism, Schlessinger expressed regret for her remarks and acknowledged that her on-air remarks were "wrong." By last night, however, her contrition appeared to be gone and the incident was everyone's fault but hers.

Media Matters' Eric Burns said in a statement, "Dr. Laura's radio career ended in disgrace tonight because of the bigoted, ugly and hateful remarks made on her show. Americans have had enough. Listeners are now holding hosts, affiliates, and sponsors accountable for the offensive and inexcusable content on the airwaves."

Here's hoping that trend continues.

Postscript: Funniest line I've seen so far: "Dr. Laura announces retirement to spend more time with the N-Word."

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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Comments

I think it may be more likely she is headed to a more refined way to exploit her talent .
Where is Larry Flynt when you need him .

Posted by: FRP on August 18, 2010 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

English majors all across America are asking:

How can we now discuss Joseph Conrad's Nigger of the Narcissus in our senior seminar?

Breaking news: Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is pulled from high school book shelves. Illiterates are asking: Why?

Posted by: DAY on August 18, 2010 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

Laura Schlessinger is a dick.

Posted by: David Bailey on August 18, 2010 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

OK. One down, a million to go. When the likes of Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh are terminated that will show real progress. One nauseating rant by a bigot doesn't compare with the daily tirades spewed by those these three bigots without any real repercussions ever.

Posted by: stevio on August 18, 2010 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

Leonard Pitts, Jr's take on Dr. Laura - written before last night's flounce on Larry King - is spot on: "Asking a conservative pundit for advice on race is like asking an ayatollah for advice on preparing the Christmas ham."

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on August 18, 2010 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Stevio: My thought as well. Glenn Beck, specifically, is inciting people to violence on a daily basis, and somehow that's less offensive than "Dr." Laura using racial epithets.

Posted by: Kris on August 18, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Goodbye, you won't be missed you racist c**ty, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t.
There, we're even...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on August 18, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Goodbye and good riddance. What an awful, hate-filled woman.

Posted by: Shrillhouse on August 18, 2010 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

Dr Laura wanted to get people to behave more responsibly. This was admirable, particularly when it came to parenting. But the gap between her compassion and her mean-girl politics was crazy making. Which Dr Laura would you hear today? More and more, the mean girl as time went on. What a smug piece of work she turned out to be.

Posted by: walt on August 18, 2010 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

I'm suspicious. This has put her back in the news for the first time in years. I know she had lost alot of stations from the amount she had in her heyday.

I heard the tape of the phone call. Why didn't the woman just hang up? I'm guessing the whole thing was a stunt and Dr. Laura will be resurfacing with a new venture and a lot of free publicity shortly.

Posted by: SaintZak on August 18, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

I want to regain my First Amendment rights

For someone who revels in blaming the victim, Schlesinger sure is whiny. One doesn't have a First Amendment right to have someone else pay for one's rancid opinions and offensive speech. She's exactly right -- she can write whatever she wants in her books and say whatever nasty stuff she pleases in speaking engagements to idiots fool enough to pay her for her opinions and advice. But the sponsors of her radio show who are footing the bill for her forum are free to cut off the gravy train if they don't like what she says. If she has a beef with her sponsor going Galt on her -- they, after all, stick with her -- she should take it up with them and not those she's offended.

Posted by: Gregory on August 18, 2010 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

perhaps she'll team up with don imus on fox.

Posted by: daveminnj on August 18, 2010 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Dr Laura wanted to get people to behave more responsibly.

Well, she scolded people about behaving responsibly, telling them to act in ways she didn't choose to do herself.

Also, she isn't a doctor of psychology or psychiatry or medicine, so the whole "Dr Laura" monicker is misleading at best and an outright fraud at worst. It implies her degree qualifies her to give advice, but there's nothing about a doctorate of physiology that qualifies her to act as a public scold any more than my local auto mechanic.

The saddest part of this whole incident is that that poor woman thought that calling Schlesinger for advice on her racist in-laws was a good idea.

Posted by: Gregory on August 18, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Good riddance! And not a decade too soon! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on August 18, 2010 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Hmmm. Contract up for renewal. Not quitting until the end of the year. Lots and lots of free publicity (and there is no such thing as bad publicity). Sounds like a negotiating ploy to me. Betcha she will be swamped by gushing phone calls begging her to stay so she can continue to stand up to the "politically correct" and give hope to whatever sort of person draws hope from a radio talk show host.

Posted by: martin on August 18, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Oddly enough, last week, facing criticism, Schlessinger expressed regret for her remarks and acknowledged that her on-air remarks were "wrong." By last night, however, her contrition appeared to be gone and the incident was everyone's fault but hers.

Well what she implied was that her use of the word "nigger" was wrong, which I and many others have argued before, was the least of her particular "wrongs" in that conversation. Schlessinger's problem isn't inappropriate language. It is that - and this is the kindest way I can put it - her understanding of race in general and particularly as a component of interpersonal relationships, is pretty close to non-existent.

Posted by: brent on August 18, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

I like how Dr. Laura Shitslinger says that a black woman's oversensitivity to racism is the result of black activists and not the result of — what's the word I'm looking for...oh yeah — white racism! To me that single statement is far more offensive than her dropping the N-bomb on her show.

Posted by: chrenson on August 18, 2010 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

I wish these wingnuts would stop draping themselves in the Constitution and actually understand some of the words in it. No black government helicopters carrying black booted soldiers stopped Dr. Schlesinger's show as a result of her words, which would have been a violation of the First Amendment. Pressure was applied to her from non-governmental, private sources and she caved. Her First Amendment right to say what she wants, no matter how offensive, has always been, and still is, intact throughout this whole incident.

Posted by: Steve on August 18, 2010 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Steve: No black government helicopters carrying black booted soldiers stopped Dr. Schlesinger's show as a result of her words, which would have been a violation of the First Amendment.

Exactly. Not only that, but the "Free Market" prevailed!

Posted by: chrenson on August 18, 2010 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

What always amazes me is that these conservative goofs yelling about the Constitution and the "founders" and the "framers" and their rights to do this and that, seem to have absolutely no idea what the 1st Amendment actually says. She seems clueless that the 1st amendment protects her speech from government restriction. People getting pissed and griping at her show's sponsors, and her show's sponsors being rightfully horrified and pulling their ads, have nothing to do with the 1st amendment. Not a government official in sight for this controversy. It is all, all Dr. Laura, her rancid ideology, her big mouth and a lot of people who don't want to listen to that crap that are responsible for this.

Personal responsibility guru indeed.

Posted by: Sinister Eyebrow on August 18, 2010 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting footnote here: this is the flipside to libertarian interpretations of the Constitutional rights of the corporate person. Shlessinger's programs were sponsored by business entities, who now (apparently) prefer not to be associated with her. This should be something for the wingnuts to celebrate: businesses, acting out of self-interest, taking action to make themselves more popular, and hence profitable. They are exercising their own First Amendment right to free speech - in this case, by recognizing that being a hateful douche in public on the airwaves isn't exactly conducive to successful corporate enterprise, nor is being associated with one.

But of course the wingnuts, even those of the Rand Paul variety, will not see this as a good thing. After all, the point isn't that the business sponsors of Shlessinger's show are basically telling her to STFU before someone (namely themselves) got hurt; it's that all those whiny liberals kicked up a fuss - and now Shlessinger has to mind her manners on the radio and play nice, against all her personal inclinations and Constitutional liberties.

It'll be nice when they get their story straight.

Posted by: boatboy_srq on August 18, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Wanna bet that Dr. Laura will get tons of support and sympathy from the same people who think Cordoba House shouldn't be built because even though it's in "bad taste?"

Posted by: T-Rex on August 18, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

"Dr." Laura needs to reread the constitution-- no where does it say that it is your 1st amendment right includes being paid millions by a private company to say whatever you want but when you step over the line there won't be consequences. Also, if she writes something really offensive in her books they might not get published-- that does not qualify as denying "Dr." Laura her 1st amendment rights either.

These people don't seem to understand the first thing about the constitution, censorship or what any of it actually means.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on August 18, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

"I want to regain my First Amendment rights," she said."

WTF. Is she so fucking stupid to not understand that freedom of speech refers to the government not her audience and sponsors.

Posted by: jharp on August 18, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

I'm black and I don't think that PARTICULAR exchange was racist. Further, the caller seemed hypersensitive in that she perceived what seemed to be racial curiosity (her husband's friends' (partial) comments) as racist behavior. There are cultural divides in this country plain and simple; NOT discussing it openly and candidly is the real disservice. What Rush Limbaugh does is far worse because he does not discuss, he RANTS. I agree with Dr. Schlessinger. I know racism when I see it. This is not an example.

Posted by: feenixreising on August 18, 2010 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I don't know about all this. The last I heard of Dr. Laura, Bill Clinton was president, and I suspect it's not that she hasn't been TRYING to get that kind of attention ever since.

Now I've heard about her twice in two weeks, and apparently she's got a book coming out, and also she's not actually quitting for another five months?

Well played, Dr. Laura's publicists. I can just see that conversation:

"We've got a foolproof plan to get you back in the game, but it involves you repeatedly saying the word 'ni-'"
"LET'S DO IT!"

Posted by: Matt on August 18, 2010 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

In Toxic Talk, Bill Press alludes to the fact that "Dr" Laura is an opportunist first and foremost and was a liberal until it became fashionable to become a conservative talk show host.

I agree with a couple of the other commenters that it could very well be a ploy to obtain a new contract and/or more publicity since she was losing stations, especially given the fact that the lady (a) did not hang up and (b) felt compelled to call "Dr." Laura in the first place, who has a history of just yelling at women who aren't subservient to men. That said, people keep on coming on Jerry Springer knowing full well that they will be ridiculed and (sometimes physically) attacked - never underestimate the vanity and at the same time stupidity of a lot of fellow members of the human race.

Posted by: DBaker on August 18, 2010 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

She was merely pointing out the hypocrisy in how blacks and self-hating white liberals use the n-word, sometimes to play the race card to intimidate, and sometimes in pop rap culture where they don't put on the big act.

Posted by: Luther on August 18, 2010 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

I'm black and I don't think that PARTICULAR exchange was racist.

Oh, well, if you say that Schlesinger's suggestion that she shouldn't have married outside her race wasn't racist, then obviously it must not have been. Despite, you know, all appearances. Right.

Further, the caller seemed hypersensitive in that she perceived what seemed to be racial curiosity (her husband's friends' (partial) comments) as racist behavior.

Bullshit. She wasn't complaining about "racial curiosity," she wasn't complaining about his friends so much as his family, and neither you nor Schlesinger have any standing to declare her as "hypersensitive."

Schlesinger's enstire act was beyond the pale, but as others (including me) have pointed out, it's hardly different from the rest of the abuse she directs at her hapless callers in the guise of "advice." How you can defend her is a mystery.

Posted by: Gregory on August 18, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

"I want to regain my First Amendment rights," she said."

The victim complex is strong with the doctoress.

Posted by: eserwe on August 18, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know about the whole hypothesis that this was some sort of publicity ploy. I mean, I am not saying that its entirely implausible, but I think the more simple explanation is that Dr. Laura is exactly as racially clueless as she appears to be. She just doesn't seem very bright and beyond that, this is certainly not the first time that she has exhibited that she has a particularly ugly frame of mind on social matters.

The part about the caller not hanging up is somewhat compelling but the fact is, people often lack the discipline to just ignore the sort of race baiting nonsense that Schlessinger was spewing. Hey, we feed the trolls all the time around here.

Posted by: brent on August 18, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Schlessinger may have raised a valid topic for discussion regarding the usage of particular words or phrases; however, it was entirely inappropriate in the context of the caller's question. Schlessinger has always diverted her "clients'" problems into her personal validation of her increasingly rabid moral and political views, instead of dealing with the actual caller's problem. Why anyone would call her for advice is the real mystery.

Posted by: qwerty on August 18, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

"I want to regain my First Amendment rights," she said. "I want to be able to say what's on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful"

"Chip on your shoulder. I can’t do much about that."

"If you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race."

"All right. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Can’t have this argument."

All of the above verbatim from Dr. Laura's conversation with the caller. And she thinks this is helpful and useful?

Apparently she's like this with most of her callers, I'm told (I don't listen to the show).

By the way, I was suspicious too about the possibility that this was a PR stunt, but once you read the transcript, it's obvious that the caller is genuinely taken aback and offended.

Posted by: MaryRC on August 18, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

I know that quiet a few African Americans are upset at the usage of the N word by Dr. Laura. I do have a question though and that deals with the power of words? Do we give so much power to that word it makes people of a different race feel more superior than our race. I think that in order to truly be able to not get offended we must realize that words only posse the power that you give them. No I am not condoning what Dr. Laura said but I certainly am asking a question to my fellow African Americans. How much longer will we allow individuals to use words that we believe degrade the African American culture? http://bit.ly/btdksH

Posted by: OwensInt on August 18, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

What struck me about the exchange was how indignant Dr. Laura was that blacks could use the N-word, but whites can't. She thought THAT was racist, or at least unfair.

People outside a group don't get to keep using a slur just because people inside a group start using it.

For me, it's like when gays or lesbians use the word queer or fag. When we do it, it's a joke or being ironic. When a straight person does it, it's an insult even if they don't mean it to be, because it has ALWAYS BEEN an insult. Sorry Dr. Laura, not yours.

Posted by: Laura on August 18, 2010 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

I don't like this development at all. Dr. Laura should have been driven out of radio long ago because she doesn't actually help anyone, she rants at her callers, doesn't listen to them, frequently blames them for the problem, and tries to fit every plea for help into a simple-minded, conservative view of the world. She's a narrow-minded, hate-filled bitch, the exact opposite of a counselor.

But in this case, she was foiled by identity politics in way that makes her a victim. She was insensitive, but she was referring to real events and real language used by African-Americans that anyone can hear with friends, on the street, or in popular media for several decades now. I think this episode should have been added to her long list of asinine statements, but the n-bomb shouldn't end anyone's career by itself, especially when she was characterizing other people's use of the word.

This is political correctness in the original sense, of foolish adherence to a verbal code of conduct. Newt Gingrich is smart enough not to use the n-word, but he mentions Obama's race indirectly in every single stump speech he gives by using code words like "three point shots." Rush Limbaugh rants on about reparations without ever using the n-word, and many other dog-whistle images. He is continuously jumping on the same hot button with many racist Americans, but he adheres to this virtuous code of not saying a particular word. Fox TV has images of scary black people every single day, but they will never, ever say the n-word.

This is stupid, stupid, stupid, and perfectly emblematic of the superficial aspects of American political culture. In America, you can hate black people, campaign against black people for being black, make up vicious, untrue stories about black people taking white people's money and you can have a long and storied career, with TV appearances, book deals, and five and six-figure speaking engagements. But you drop the n-bomb and suddenly you're the pariah. Fuck this fucking country.

Posted by: Rathskeller on August 18, 2010 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

She was insensitive, but she was referring to real events and real language used by African-Americans that anyone can hear with friends, on the street, or in popular media for several decades now.

I don't know what to tell you Rath. I mean, I agree that no one should be fired for the particular words they choose but, as I argued above, her word choice was really the least of a long list of offenses in her spectacularly ugly rant. I think its unfortunate that so much of the energy on this topic is spent on her word choice rather than a focus on why her absurd notions of "black think" and so-called hypersensitivity involve a monstrously stupid perspective on race, but I have seen a number of her critics at least try to raise those issues in recent debates.

As for the consequences to her, I actually don't care whether she loses her job or not. I didn't much care whether Imus did either. I am sure they will find some other hatemonger to take her place. The only interest I have, particularly as a black person, is: Does this move the conversation on race forward in a helpful way? You're correct that to the extent that people focus on the word "nigger" than the answer is no. But I had some sense this time around that the larger conversation actually managed to move a bit past that. Progress!

Posted by: brent on August 18, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

By last night, however, her contrition appeared to be gone and the incident was everyone's fault but hers.

In other words, she's behaving like a typical right-winger!

Posted by: electrolite on August 18, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

"I want to regain my First Amendment rights," she said. "I want to be able to say what's on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful"

someone needs to explain the first amendemnt to the not-so-good "doctor."

last week she had the right to go to the local park, stand on a soapbox and yell "n*****,"n*****," "n*****" til the cows come home....this week she still does... and she always will...

and the rest of us have the first amendment right to call her on it....

Posted by: dj spellchecka on August 18, 2010 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

A radio quack and a racist quacker. Who knew?

Posted by: Quin on August 18, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

"criticized" equals "muzzled." What a fucking stupid cunt. What a sense of entitlement. Christ, I didn't think I could hate her any more than I already did, but I was wrong.

Posted by: Kevin Carson on August 18, 2010 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Laura Palinized her career.

Posted by: CWS on August 18, 2010 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah! Let's put all of them in a pile and watch them burn in hell! Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, yeah! Anyone who disagrees with our point of view should die! Yeah! And Palin, too! And her daughter! And John Edwards, even though he's on our side, and Rush . . . wait, I already said him. Anyway, hang them all!

My Lord, you people are stupid. Every last one of you. This, my friends, was a setup. A staged, well-planned event designed to Get Dr. Laura a TON of free publicity, so she can change careers. And every one of you idiots, except for SaintZak, fell for it. It's no wonder the party is poised for an ass-kicking in November.

Do the party a favor, and BE SMARTER.

Posted by: Erin Roundoff on August 19, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

it is about religion and believing, so there is not absolute right or wrong, but you are supposed to practice it in your head not in the real world, otherwise how about nazi , communism. I totally reckon that nazi ,communism and islam are kindred.

Posted by: Lorine Pooyouma on August 21, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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