Big news – at least for me – on Tuesday was the announcement by “Dr. Laura” Schlessinger that she is going to give up her radio program at the end of the year. This news came on the heels of an apparent diatribe by her last week on her radio program with a liberal peppering of the ‘N’ word in a conversation with a listener.
For those who don’t know, Dr. Laura has a syndicated radio talk show, on AM radio stations primarily. According to her website, she’s been on the air for 30 years, reaching approximately 9 million listeners weekly.
I didn’t hear her show on Aug. 10, but apparently she was counseling a black lady listener who was married to a white guy. The caller was apparently angry that her husband’s friends would make racial comments while in her home. When the woman asked if the N-word was offensive, Dr. Laura reportedly said, “Black guys say it all the time,” then went on to repeat it several times apparently to illustrate her point.
I learned of the incident on Tuesday evening after coming home from work and “Larry King Live” was on the TV. Larry was hosting the first interview by Dr. Laura since the Aug. 10 airing and it was then that she announced that she would not be continuing on air after Jan. 1st. She will continue writing books and doing Internet work. She said the decision, in part, was because she wants “to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what’s on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful.”
I’ve listened to Dr. Laura for years. I’ve called her for advice and listened to the advice that she’s given others and, when applicable, applied that advice to my own life. I feel that I am a better person/wife/mother because of the direction I’ve gained from her. Do I agree with everything she’s said? Heck, no! But I’ve always appreciated the attempt she has made to make the life of the caller better. Perhaps not easier, certainly not always happier, but better. Better doesn’t always equal happier (a state that I’ve said is transitory), and her advice is hyper-sensitive to the well-being of children, so the advice dispensed doesn’t coddle parents and their needs. Rather, since she’s got the caller on the line and not those that the caller might be complaining about, she will offer advice that may be contrary to the desires of the caller, but within the control of the caller.
Realizing that the direction she was taking was inappropriate on Aug 10, she stepped back from the microphone for the rest of the afternoon, then issued several apologies in different ways (online, on air, etc.) the next day.
During her appearance on Larry King’s show, she also cited a change in society? culture? when folks who disagreed with her in the past would debate the subject. Now she accuses ‘special interest’ groups in working to eliminate the discussion overall or the person bringing up the topic specifically.
Whether that is true or not, I cannot say.
While I haven’t heard the entire tape from Aug. 10 nor have I read any transcripts, the thought of using such derogatory language is disgusting. I also have to say that “Black guys say it all the time” is a fact that I have never understood. It’s true – whether in music, movies or in comedy sets – the highly offensive ‘N word’ has been repeatedly tossed out by black entertainers. I’ve always found it confusing that something so offensive is so freely dispensed by the very people who it offends. I don’t get it.
If Dr. Laura was not using the term to degrade someone but to make the same inquiry I did, then the airways have lost a moral compass.
However, if she is a bigot that forgot where she was and her ‘real self’ was revealed then it’s time to take out the trash.
Robin Goldsworthy is the publisher of the Crescenta Valley Weekly.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 248-2740.