Dr. Laura Punches A Tar Baby

Allowing people of different races a free pass, is racism.

ABC News reports:

Usually, she gives advice. But after broadcasting a five-minute-long rant in which she used the N-word 11 times, Dr. Laura Schlessinger is now on the receiving end...

Schlessinger ignited a firestorm of criticism after Media Matters posted audio from a Tuesday conversation she had with a black female caller. The caller was complaining about her white husband's friends and their use of the N-word. In response, Schlessinger said:

"Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO and listen to a black comic, and all you hear is n****r, n****r, n****r. I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing. But when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing.

When the caller said she couldn't believe Schlessinger was "on the radio spewing out" the N-word, Schlessinger said she "didn't spew out" the N-word and repeated, "n****r, n****r, n****r is what you hear on HBO."

She then criticized the caller, saying "Don't take things out of context. Don't NAACP me."

Their conversation ended there. Schlessinger offered an epilogue to her audience: "If you're that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry outside of your race."

We are not fans of the N-word; in fact, it is banned from Scragged (so, commenter, use **s or expect deletion.)  The last thing we want to hear when we turn on the radio is foul putrescence - which, as Dr. Laura alluded to, is why we don't listen to the rap stations.

No, this isn't a free-speech issue; nobody is suggesting that Dr. Laura should go to jail or that the government should throw her off the air, which is where the First Amendment would get involved.

It's a matter of taste and decency.  With her customary inimitable directness, Dr. Laura stabbed a dagger straight into the heart of the issue: If something is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable, it is so for everyone; and if not, then not.  To say that what you're allowed to say or do depends on your race as all too many liberals claim is nothing less than racism, pure and simple.

America has sadly become used to rampant racism throughout the media and the dominant culture wherein favored groups are permitted to say and do things that members of disfavored groups would be pilloried or exiled for saying or even thinking.  Black rappers can call people "crackers" and worse without fear of censure; here, we have Dr. Laura using an equivalent insult, not aimed at anyone at all but merely as an example, and people are all but throwing rocks at her.

Black people, to be specific - and one has to wonder if they even read what they write before they post it.  Listen to this shaking display of naked racism which goes entirely unchallenged:

When will white people just accept the fact that black folks can use the N-word, but they cannot. Why is this such a complicated life rule for them?

Why are white folks so intent on rationalizing their use of the word? You can't use it, period. Get over it.

We don't have to explain why you can't say it, we don't have to defend our use of it and we don't have to tolerate you saying it. You just can't.

Let's try it in terms which that or any bigoted author might understand: We don't have to explain why white people can call black men of any age "boy."  We don't have to defend our use of it, we just can, period - get over it.  Now how does that sound?

Evil Communications Corrupt Good Manners

Of course the race-baiters on the left are throwing around racism charges willy-nilly; that's their sole stock in trade.  Far more disturbing is when people generally considered to be conservative make the same mistake, as witness Kathleen Parker's utterly wrongheaded column in the Washington Post:

Dr. Laura's stated point was that since blacks frequently use the N-word, whites should be able to as well. She was correct that the word gets lots of exercise -- and her use of it was in the prosecution of that point. Even so, the N-word stands alone as too injurious for whites to use, period. Everyone knows this.

When blacks use it, they are reclaiming the word, robbing it of its power to intimidate by making it their own. The same spirit was behind Eve Ensler's "Reclaiming C---" in "The Vagina Monologues." Used by a man against a woman, the word is vile and threatening. Used by women among women, it becomes something else. Silly, if you ask me, but benign.  [emphasis added]

Only someone who has spent far too long marinating in the polluted Ganges-esque intellectual waters of the mainstream establishment could even compose a paragraph as transparently fatuous as this, much less put it forward with a straight face as an actual argument.

The use of a dirty word in a filthy "artwork" of pseudo-intellectual pornography somehow not merely justifies its use there but elsewhere too?  You might as well argue that because various exotic sexual acts were "artfully" depicted in Debbie Does Dallas, that makes them equally appropriate for the streets of Dallas.

The demeaning acts equally with the demeaning words are equally verminous no matter where they appear nor by whom they are used; anything else is rankest bigotry and illogic.

Dr. Laura's Overlooked Landmine

In all the furor over Dr. Laura's point about the N-word, nobody is talking about something else she said which is even more inflammatory while also being true.

When an African American caller asked her for help in dealing with what she considered racist remarks by friends and family of her white husband, Schlessinger mocked her as being hypersensitive and repeated the offending N-word several times... Dr. Laura repeatedly interrupted, even suggesting that the woman shouldn't have married outside her race if she was going to be so thin-skinned. [emphasis added]

Everyone with eyes to read or ears to hear knows perfectly well that vast numbers of blacks do, indeed, use the N-word with great frequency.  Some whites do as well.  Some whites are also racists; so are some blacks.  Everyone also has a family member who is not really fit for polite company, don't we?

Is it any surprise that Dr. Laura's black caller had encountered a racist buried in her husband's family tree?  It would be interesting to hear the opinions of the black woman's family regarding her white husband, but nobody dared share those.

Of course you need to expect potential problems when you marry outside of your culture - of which race is only one variable.  Would we rationally expect things to go swimmingly around the family table if a feminist married a Saudi Arabian sheikh?  How about a vegetarian and an Argentinian?  This doesn't mean such unions should be illegal, but only a fool would be as sanguine as when two childhood sweethearts that grew up together get hitched.

In America, we are all supposed to be Americans first and foremost.  The last fifty years have seen a concerted effort to drive us apart instead of unifying us - celebrating "multiculturalism" and "diversity" instead of one unitary common culture we all share, or ought to share.

The more different we become, the more fault-lines and strife there will be; the Democratic party has specialized in exploiting these conflicts to increase its own power and wealth.  Is Dr. Laura the villain for pointing out obvious but painful truths?

No.  While she wrestles with the tar baby, we wish her every good fortune and persistence.  A sticky and nasty mess this may be, but it's long past time someone took it on.

Please don't retire from the field, Doctor; we'll need your harsh but effective medicine for many years to come.

Read other Scragged.com articles by Hobbes or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments
Dr. Laura said nothing wrong, but she gave the left the perfect hammer by which they can beat her down. She ought to have known better - you cannot be that flippant (even while correct) about such things and not expect to get crucified.

I'm irritated that she's quitting though. Take it in stride and keep moving.

The left won't stop. They've spent years and millions of dollars recording and misconstruing every conservative personality in media. One by one, they continue to ratchet up the heat until the person folds. Dr. Laura has just folded.
August 26, 2010 9:40 AM
Fantastic article. Dr. Laura, your show will be sorely missed.
August 26, 2010 10:15 AM
"Punched a tar baby" HAS to be the best headline this year!
August 26, 2010 10:31 AM
I find it annoying that the term 'n-word' is ever used at all. We are all adults and one should be able to say the word that one is discussing. Its as if one is unable to say Lucifer because if you do he'll pop up. Its utter non sense. I have never and will never use the 'n-word' (bother) as a pejorative.

However when my friend's and I were discussing Dr. Laura's rant they all started it by saying 'n-word' and I said the actual word. Why? Because we're bloody adult's we can handle civil conversation with the actual word. Its like saying 'the F-word', what on earth is so mysteriously powerful about the word?

The argument that 'the N-word' being used by blacks robs it of its 'power' is belied by the fact that it still has power when said by a white! In fact the only way to 'rob it of its power' is for people to stop caring if anyone says it at all!

Many terms were used as insults but were accepted by those they were directed against (including Yank, which actually means something along the lines of a hic or hillbilly). But they only lost their power when the person attempting to do the insulting is met with indifference by the attempted insulted. Otherwise they still have their power.

Finally, I would like to say that how Dr. Laura used the word was inappropriate but not that she used it. 'N-word,' 'N-word,' 'N-word' can not be construed as constructive conversation. Something like "One hears the 'N-word'[sic] very frequently on black entertainment so why should whites not be able to use the word as well?" Could be constructive. It seems to me that it was Dr. Laura's intent to anger the other party (which was not the caller but a much larger audience). Intending to anger a group of people on an advice show really isn't an appropriate forum. Even if it is your show.

August 26, 2010 11:57 AM
"I find it annoying that the term 'n-word' is ever used at all. We are all adults and one should be able to say the word that one is discussing"

I could not agree more.

In conversations, I've used the word (the whole phonetic word) with other adults and been surprised at the obvious shock on their face. These are conservative people that claim to hate political correctness. Why then are they so surprised? I was not using the word to disparage or describe a person. I was speaking ABOUT the word.

One caveat... Around children, one should avoid using the actual word (just as with "fuck", "shit", etc) because children will repeat the word, not understanding the offensiveness it carries. You don't want your toddler walking through the grocery store saying "i like [n word]!" just because it happens to pop into their head.
August 26, 2010 12:06 PM
I teach in an inner city school and I often find myself using "the N-word" in my classroom, where I am often the only White person in the room.

Allow me to clarify. Many works of American literature use "the N-word", works such as Mark Twain's _Huckleberry Finn_ and William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily". The word is right there in the text, multiple times. Should I say "N-word" when reading aloud to my classes? Or should I discuss the historical use of the word and ask students why THEY think the authors chose to use it as they did, and if THEY think the authors were just racists or if maybe other factors might have been at work?

Two further points, admittedly without much focus:

Cajuns have a similar pejorative word that has been used against them, which has been recognized as legally unacceptable (discrimination cases have been won based on offending parties using the word). While a Cajun might be rightly offended at a non-Cajun who called him this word (whether that individual were Black, White, or any other color), many Cajuns continue to use the word freely with each other in pretty much exactly the same way Blacks use "the N-word". More educated Cajuns tend to frown on the internal use of "the C-word" (not "Cajun", the OTHER "C-word") and deride those who use it internally, much the same way Bill Cosby derides Black American use of "the N-word". And so on. It is an almost identical situation.

I'm Acadian, so it's arguable whether or not I'd be allowed to use "the C-word" in a group of Cajuns (our ancestors were separated in 1755 when theirs were ethnically cleansed by the British and mine hid in the woods for ten years before the madness of the time died down). But every time I hear this sort of discussion I smile a little inside as I know there's a word I can hold over the head of any person capable of holding "the N-word" over mine.

Regarding mixed marriages and thin skin (regardless of color) -- while Acadians are nearly all at least a little "mixed", I'm basically White, and I prefer darker women (for a variety of reasons). I write this from India where I'm visiting the family of the woman I am in a committed relationship with. Indeed thin skin is not a good quality to have if you want to share such a huge part of your life with someone from a different race, religion, culture, etc. It helps that my GF is only about as "Hindu" as I am "Catholic" (ie we've been known to eat steaks on Fridays in Lent). Even so, it isn't for everyone. I'll freely admit that many people simply do not have what it takes to reap the many rewards of a "mixed" relationship. That being said, I think the wife in this case probably had every right to be upset if her husband's friends were using a word she considered derogatory in her presence when she made it clear she did not want them to do so. I know that if any friend of mine chose to speak or act in a manner that it had been made clear to them made my own love uncomfortable, there would be a "little talk" with them and if that didn't do the trick they would not be invited back into the house. That has nothing to do with race and everything to do with common decency to one's spouse (and the spouse of one's friends).

Put another way -- a friend of mine has a wife who is deathly afraid of clowns. I think that's a silly fear. We live in a free country where I'm free to dress in a clown suit and wear clown makeup if I so choose. If I chose to attend a cookout at his house dressed in such a way, even though there are no laws against it, I can tell you that he would not just laugh it off and let me join in the festivities. And even though I find his wife's phobia to be silly, I wouldn't blame him.
August 26, 2010 12:39 PM
@Werebat - you use the term "thin-skinned" as if it applied only in marriage across cultures. In fact and in truth, being thin skinned is a VERY BAD idea if you plan to relate to any other people at all. College roommates, office mates, people in line at the DMV - it doesn't matter, if you are thin-skinned, you're in for trouble.
August 26, 2010 5:13 PM
As I'm not married and don't plan on it anytime soon, "marriage" across cultures wouldn't even apply to me! But you are correct, being a thin-skinned and irritable person is its own punishment.

Meanwhile, being an insensitive jerk who makes a point of doing and saying things that you know will irritate the people around you is bound to lead to trouble. Such a person should not complain too much when they are treated the way one would expect them to be treated for acting the way they do.

IMO, the caller's real problem with her husband was his failure to deal with his friends when they acted in a way that she found offensive. This has more to do with a lack of care and respect than it does with "racism".

Dr. Laura once posed for nude photos for a boyfriend of hers. Years later, he put them up on the internet for all to see. She asked him to take them down, and then as I understand it lost a court battle to force him to take them down when he refused. AFAIK they're still out there if you care to see them. Her ex wasn't breaking any laws in doing what he did, and unlike her caller Dr. Laura CLEARLY participated in the very act she wanted to remove from public exposure, but I suspect she would have disagreed with a rebuke that she shouldn't be upset because she was all about "nude photos, nude photos, nude photos" every time she had a boyfriend. The man had every LEGAL right to put those photos up on the internet, but it was wrong for him to do so and she was right to be upset with him for it.
August 27, 2010 12:57 AM
Brief edit for the above -- a better analogy would be Dr. Laura being told to put up and shut up because SO MANY WOMEN TODAY pose for nude photos, and you can find nude pictures of women all over the internet, and that women are all about "nude photos, nude photos, nude photos". Remember that in her own case, Dr. Laura was a clear participant, and we have no proof that her caller ever used "the N-word".
August 27, 2010 1:01 AM
Well said Werebat. I would say that with the info that we have its really not possible to make any clear determiniation on that if the husband in this case is actually insensitive to his wife's needs. We would need more details on how 'n-word'[sic] is used and what the couple of talked about.

As a matter of politics the woman does need to get over it. As a matter of an interpersonal relationship the husband needs to ensure that his wife feels welcome around his friends.

If this was a political talk show the rant would have been inline with the show. Since this is a personal help line it most decidedly is not.
August 28, 2010 6:59 AM
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