I have never liked Laura Schlessinger, the conservative radio show host who made headlines last week when she used the n-word 11 times on the air. But last week’s outburst was extreme, even for a woman who asserted in print that “feminism robbed women of their essence and their ability to find pure joy and happiness,” not least because her non-apology made it clear that she had no idea why anyone would dare to be offended by what she had said. Now she has announced that she will not renew her radio show contract at the end of the year – not because she realizes that what she said was unforgivable, but because she wants to “regain her First Amendment rights.”
And yes, I think she’s referring to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, difficult as that may be to believe.
The situation began last week when Schlessinger took a call from a listener who was in an interracial marriage and struggling to deal with racism from her white husband’s friends and family. After demanding some proof that racism was actually taking place (because, Schlessinger said, people are sometimes “oversensitive” about that kind of thing), the caller expained that the “n-word was being thrown around.” And that’s where things really heated up. After repeating the word in question several times, Schlessinger said, “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.”
Um no. Not to anyone who has a rudimentary grasp of American history. Schlessinger, realizing that this might offend some “oversensitive” listeners, told the caller “Don’t take things out of context. Don’t double N — NAACP me,” and proceeded to launch into an extended rant about her thoughts on political correctness, and other attempts by “oversensitive” people to, you know, not say egregiously hateful things. Explaining that anger at racism is just an example of “black-think,” Schlessinger told her caller, “If you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race.”
You can see why Schlessinger’s apology, published the next day on her blog, was not very satisfying. “I didn’t intend to hurt people, but I did,” she wrote. “And that makes it the wrong thing to have done.”
And now she’s back on the defensive, having declared that she is, in fact, the one who has been wronged. On Larry King, she explained, “I don’t have the right to say what I need to say. My First Amendment rights have been usurped by angry, hateful groups who don’t want to debate, they want to eliminate.” She has now eliminated herself from the air, and will, she says, move into a medium where she can, in her words, “say what is on my mind, in my heart, what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry.”
In other words, Dr. Laura wants a place where she can spout racism without any mean nasty people complaining to her afterward. And until then, she’s not going to let the “oversensitive” masses stop her.
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