Saturday, August 14, 2010

What’s the real problem?

I would rather listen to a tape of javelinas farting – recorded on a 1970s era cassette player, the one shaped like a shoebox – than any syllable from Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s mouth. Dr. Laura (isn’t it a continent-sized red flag when a doctor is referred to by first name?) is a nagging, bitching radio show host with a voice like Edward Scissorhands groping a chalkboard.

Unfortunately, I have to link to this audio because it’s the soundtrack for my post (in two parts):

The mainstream media is calling this a “N-Word Rant”. However, such headlines ignore the real problem with Dr. Laura’s response to the caller.

As a writer and First Amendment (near) absolutist, I don’t accept the concept that people of certain skin colors are allowed/forbidden to use certain words. I don’t object, per se, to white Dr. Laura’s saying “nigger,” even eleven times. She didn’t use it as a direct insult to the caller. Context is everything when it comes to controversial words.

The issue I have with Dr. Laura is that she failed miserably in doing what she is supposed to do, i.e., help people. The caller, a black woman, wanted to know what to do about her husband’s friends who were making racist comments in her presence. Instead of giving the caller advice in how to talk to her husband, Dr. Laura dismissed her as “hypersensitive” and goes off on a tangent about who is and who is not allowed to say “nigger.” In other words, not answering the question.

To add insult to injury, Dr. Laura adds these charming quotes:

“[W]ithout giving much thought, a lot of blacks voted for Obama simply ’cause he was half-black. Didn’t matter what he was gonna do in office, it was a black thing.” (as if blacks are incapable of thoughtful voting)

“Don’t NAACP me.” (turning the name of a revered civil rights organization into an insult)

“You know what, if you are that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race.” (you’ve got the problem, lady, not your husband’s friends)

That, to me, is far more offensive than any utterance of “nigger” ever could be.

Predictably, Dr. Laura realized that she had screwed up royally, and offered the by-now familiar media apology. The person she had really hurt, the caller, was a mere afterthought at the end. Call me unforgiving, but if I were the caller, I would not be impressed, and I would not call back.

We have freedom of speech, but that does not protect us from the consequences of our speech. I would hope that this would make Dr. Laura stop and think about how “moral” it is to tell people who are asking for help that they are the problem, but I am not holding my breath.

I will not post about this individual again. All wise people should simply ignore her and go take on their days.