The internet and the cable news channels have been all aflutter over the apparent racist rant of talk show radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger.
In a nutshell Dr. Laura had a caller on her show who was offended that her husband’s friends used the N word around her. The caller is black and her husband is white.
You can listen to the audio or read the transcript here.
The first sentence on this site says this:
Dr. Laura Schlessinger launched into a racially charged rant…
I don’t know if Laura Schlessinger is a racist and there is no way to determine from the tape or the transcript if she is. She might not be the most gracious person and she certainly was rude to her caller, but that seems to be part of her schtick. To me her repeating the N word over an over again was not a racially motivated rant. She was ranting about the caller’s sensitivity, and probably gunning for ratings.
I get what she was trying to articulate. We hear this offensive word all over the place, usually used by African American men. What the caller was trying to say was that she was offended by the use of the word regardless of who was using it and more to the point she was offended that her husband’s friends used it in front of her (or at all for that matter) and he did nothing to prevent it or defend her.
Two different things were going on.
Dr. Laura suggested the caller was hypersensitive and that if she was so sensitive and didn’t have a sense of humor she shouldn’t have married interracially. Which is probably what has gotten her into hot water more than saying the N word over and over.
Is the N word offensive? It depends on how it is used. To repeat the word as Dr. Laura did was not offensive. I agree with Dr. Laura that we hear it all the time from a particular group of people, rappers and comedians. This doesn’t make it okay, which is what the caller was trying to get at but Dr. Laura kept interrupting her.
They went on to discuss how race relations are worse now than they were before Obama was elected to office. I’m not sure that is true but our country certainly does have a racism problem and it needs to be discussed.
The problem is we can’t seem to have a discussion about racism without someone calling the other person a racist and that doesn’t get any of us anywhere. We can’t have this discussion and be politically correct at the same times. In order to get at the root of the problem people will have to state their fears and their truths and that scares a lot of people. Until we can discuss this without fear of retribution from the NAACP or Al Sharpton we aren’t going to move past this.
“The problem is we can’t seem to have a discussion about racism without someone calling the other person a racist and that doesn’t get any of us anywhere.”
We will never be truly integrated until no one notices the difference. Not happening any time soon.
I do agree, in principle, that people who choose to marry interracially should at least know what they’re up against, and plan on thickening their skins. But the husband should be the first to back his wife up and tell his friends to shove it. There should have been NO need for this woman to call Dr. Laura.
Which means that there’s a deeper problem in this marriage than the hubby’s stupid, insensitive friends.
From what I heard and read that was the point Dr. Laura was trying to get at
but then it went in a different direction.
Nope. you are 100% wrong. Dr. Laura at no time addressed the issue that this woman’s husband and friends were verbally abusing her in her own home, and that her husband should have protected her from it. Now lots of white women have called Dr. Laura complaining about shabby treatment from their husbands and Dr. Laura ALWAYS backs them up. But in this instance, Dr. Laura chooses to treat this woman as if she was some personification of the NAACP or the politically correct race Marxists at our universities. Dr. Laura knows fully well that just because some rapper or comedian says the N word on stage that it doesn’t make it OK for everyone to use it all the time. The reason is that white celebrities use racial slurs against whites all the time, female celebrities make sexist slurs against women all the time, and Dr. Laura knows that if some white woman were to call in complaining about being called the C-word (either the racial or the misogynistic slur) she would never put up with it.
Laura was not trying to get at that position. Instead, she was bashing this woman for being black. Period.
Full disclosure: I think Laura Schlesinger has as much wisdom to impart as a slug on a banana leaf. I said so (yes, I used nicer words–I think I said something about hubris) at a talk she was giving and practically got crucified by her loyal following.
Having said that, let me add this: I wonder how Laura would feel about the word “kike” being thrown around in her presence. Would she feel that she was being too sensitive if she objected just a tad? I bet not. I bet one’s sensitivity is a function of one’s tribe.
And furthermore (aren’t you glad I joined the Tribe?)–I agree with you that we have become super quick to shout “racism” since Obama’s been in office. When I try to figure out what to do about it, my brain goes into overdrive, and I sigh and have to chill out and go drink some Texas iced tea. Which is better than Jim Jones Kool-Aid.
People throw around racist WAY too often.
On a side note, saw the Dr. L at a wedding a few months back. My friend works for her. LOL
Wow, Jen, I have to say I admire you for taking on a very difficult subject.
I think Dr. Laura was deliberately rude and baiting to the caller, whether out of racism or ratings I don’t know. I’d suspect ratings though. Just the way she kept cutting off the caller, interupting her and not really listening makes me think she had an agenda other than helping out a woman with marital issues.
And here I thought you were going to tell me that Dr.Laura said Nothing which is what she usually says so I wondered what all the fuss was about….
You did an intelligent job dissecting this, Jen.
First and foremost, I don’t understand how Dr. Laura has been able to make such a name for herself. She’s boorish and never listens to her callers. She just brandishes her opinions with a heavy handed dose of intolerance.
Having said that, I listened to the phone call earlier today and I think, this time, the racism card was dealt unfairly. Yes, she should have not used the N word, just because others do, doesn’t give her the right, even if it is just for example. It is an offensive word and full of hate, so why give it any due diligence.
But her example, though poor, was not racially intended. Is she a racist? I don’t know.
But her biggest problem is she seemed intent on calling that woman out, on something she didn’t even call in about. This is Dr Laura’s M.O. She tends to rant on and over the other person. And that, to me, is not good counsel. Still in utter bafflement how she makes a living as an advice therapist and a famous one at that.
But racially charged rant? No. Just a rant. A boorish, insensitive rant.
When all this erupted my first thought was, “does she still have a show?” I thought it had been canceled a long time ago, during the last scandal she was involved in, which I can’t remember exactly what it was.
I used to listen to her about 15 years ago and while her show was no different I loved that she had zero tolerance for whining, which is probably how her show became so popular since we live in a very whiny society.
Well done Jen. I think your spot-fucking-on in this post. oops I said fuck, sorry. Its my word of the week. 😉
I have a zero-tolerance policy regarding use of that word. Nobody gets a pass — ever. Not for color, not for context, not for anything. Her use of the word was ignorant and hateful and if you really listen closely to her voice, you can hear how she is using it to demean the feelings and concerns of the caller. To try to rationalize her intent is to put blinders on. She is a racist, pure and simple.
If there are certain instances when it’s okay, but instances when it’s not that should be the indicator to eschew it altogether.
What burns me up is that liberals are now the moral deciders. Smoking and the “N” word are wicked as hell, but adultery and fornication and the “F” word are just a-OK.
Upside down. Sheesh!
If you want to talk about adultery, look no further than GOP serial adulterer Newt Gingrich.
And you’re seriously equating smoking and the “N” word? Seriously?
I missed the rant and I will admit I didn’t listen to your link. I basically think Dr. L is a dumbass so whether she is racist or not, I am sure she was wrong. She usually is.
I’m a white guy. I have no idea what a black person should feel when they hear or say the word. The ‘double standard’ argument is crap, IMO. Women can bitch to each other all day about their PMS but if a man is confronted with utter idiocy (like a woman laughing and crying at the same time while waving a knife and insisting that she can and will cook dinner even though it is 11:30 at night) and implies that PMS might be a factor, then he will get that knife rammed into his chest.
Double standards exist. Get over it. Life isn’t fair. Dr. Laura went for the double standard justification and lost any credibility she may have had. White people are tired about feeling guilty so they want to point to Chris Rock. And if any woman disagrees with me, you are probably PMSing. And one more thing, Obama is President. Good for him. What does that change for a black person who works at a bank?
Do you think if Hillary had won that all of a sudden you would be making the same amount I make for the same work? No? It’s a hateful world. Nobody pointed out the fact (that I could see) that black or white, that dumb-ass woman called a RADIO DOCTOR to find out how to talk to her husband. BAH! Also, good post.
As always, insightful and well said, dear.
Hey Jen, good post. I don’t know if Dr. Laura is racist or not from listening to the tape. She is a “shock jock” just like the others, and that’s why I don’t understand why anyone would telephone her for advise. That said, I think Laura is crude, rude, and a jerk, but race isn’t really a factor to me in this one. I don’t find it offensive when Chris Rock uses the N word. I do find it offensive when it’s used to demean a race of people. When black entertainers use it, to me it seems like they are trying to “own” the word, and thus take the power it has to inflict pain away.
I am half-Hispanic with an Hispanic surname, so I tend to be a tad hypersensitive about racial issues. And I do think we live in a society where there was a lot of latent racism… until Obama got elected. Since then, it’s not so dormant anymore, and it’s quite horrifying and ugly. For example, the whole illegal immigrant issue: yes, there is a problem and some sort of better regulation and reform is needed, but many folks seem to be taking out their anger and frustration on Latinos in general, which honestly makes me a little nervous. Same thing with the black-and-white thing. Sure, if you have a gripe about the way the president is running the country, articulate what you don’t like and how you would like to see things run differently. But don’t lower yourself by saying nasty things about Obama’s race or origins. Doing that does more to destroy a person’s argument, rather than strengthening.
But back to Dr. Laura, who I never liked anyhow. Considering her personality and the nature of her show, I think she was just quick to use the “n” word (which like Jayne, I find offensive coming from anyone) as a cheap shot to unnerve the caller. I don’t think she is inherently racist, I pretty much think that she wasn’t thinking and running off at the mouth. And judging from the way she apologized later, I believe she didn’t realize how she came across until after the fact. The main reason I don’t give her a pass on this is because I hate her tactics anyhow. It’s okay to jump on people for whining, but I don’t think she does it with enough conscious consideration, and she does it in a way that’s (as other people have mentioned) boorish and not helpful.
Sorry to go on for so long. Like I said earlier, this is a bit of a hot button for me.
Laura S is pathetic. Her responses seem to be purely for effect. As for the N word – if someone is using it in a way that is meant to offend and to hurt then it’s wrong. If someone is repeating it, thinking that it’s funny is stupid and ignorant but not racist. As long as their are humans there will be hateful nasty comments it’s just human nature. You look at the person you are trying to offend and you zoom in on what there is about them that would hurt the most and let the zingers fly.
I’d say it was a push for ratings. Nothing else. Nice dissection of her motivations, though.
I’m sorry, my first thought is I can’t get over how much WORK she has done to her face!! ha ha!
My first thought was, ‘Dr. Laura is still alive?’ Followed by, ‘Dr. Laura is still on the air?’
When I was in college, I was president of an organization. My adviser was an intelligent and respected man who has won numerous awards throughout the course of his career, but I often felt a sense of so-called “reverse racism” (which sociologists tend to say is impossible to propogate,) because numerous students in the program we were a part of were inner-city kids. Not all of them were black, but the inner-city attitude all of those kids carried around was intimidating. We were looking for fund raising ideas for our organization, and someone suggested we do a student-slave auction. The adviser for the program went ballistic, giving us all a huge lecture about how offensive that would be to all the black people in the university because of slavery. Like we would be saying slavery was okay and condoning the acts of slavery that took place over a hundred years ago by doing such a thing and he wouldn’t stand for it. It sort of baffled me, but I understood his point. Just like I understand what Dr. Laura was saying about hypersensitivity and how it’s okay for certain people to drop the N bomb whenever they feel like it, but when others even use the word in passing conversation, they’re made to feel racist. This is such a touchy subject, I can understand why the caller felt a little put off by Dr. Laura. Let’s face it, Dr. Laura is damn near impossible to talk to anyway because she obviously likes the sound of her own voice. Does that make her racist? No, it makes her an egomaniac.
I agree with a lot of what you wrote here. It is ridiculous, but seemingly true, that this country- as a whole- was not ready to embrace an African-American leader and I think that has dialed up the existing issue of racism quite a few notches. Political correctness seems to trump getting to the root of the problem and finding any kind of resolution will remain impossible as long as the majority (on both sides) are unwilling to “get real” about it.
I, personally, dislike Dr. Laura and think that she could- and should- be more helpful to her callers by actually listening to them and not jumping to personality conclusions within the first minute of the call. I’m of Mexican descent and I would be offended- and pissed off- if my husband’s friends and/or family continually used words like “spic” and “wetback” around me. Does that make me hyper-sensitive? Or does it make me someone who expects the people in my life to be respectful of me, as I am of them? I absolutely agree that there are hyper-sensitive people in the world- but not everyone is and Dr. Laura shouldn’t assume as much.
As for the “N Word”, Dr. Laura’s repeating it was, IMHO, not necessary in getting her point across. I get the whole ratings and shock value angle, but come on. I find that word offensive because it was created to be just that and when I hear it in songs or comedy acts, I equate it with ignorance. I will never understand why some African-Americans think it’s “cool”, or perfectly acceptable, to use a word that slave owners and racists created to be cruel and demeaning to them.
This was a good, thought provoking post and I enjoyed your take on it. 🙂 Thanks for giving me space to blab.
The N word wasn’t the most racist thing she said, IMO. The FIRST racist thing she did was saying that the neighbor asking Jade about “Why do black people do this and that?” as if Jade could speak for all black people – saying that wasn’t racist. Yes, it IS racist to assume all people of one skin color are alike. It reduces them to their skin color, not treats them as individuals.
THEN she goes on to talk about how black people voted for Obama just because he’s black. How does she know? Is she upset that white people may have voted for Obama because he is black, or didn’t vote for him because the other candidates weren’t? No. She’s only concerned with black people.
Third, she seems to assume that someone making a light-hearted racial remark during a basketball game equates to whatever racial insult someone wants to dish out to Jade. White people have an easier time with racial insults because we have historically had, and continue to have, massive amounts of white privilege that negate almost any insult that people sling at us. We aren’t abused in general by virtue of our skin color, so we can laugh off insults and jokes. If you are a minority and have lost jobs, been attacked, been wrongly jailed, been denied housing or opportunity over and over, then racial insults are a more serious matter – part of a continuum of abuse that is a lifetime struggle.
Dr. Laura said racist stuff. Does that make her a racist? I don’t care. But she needs to own up and apologize, really apologize, for being offensive and stupid.
Although I would’ve preferred if you went into a little bit more detail, I still got the gist of what you meant. I agree with it. It might not be a popular idea, but it makes sense. Will definitely comeNike Dunk SB back for more of this. Great work