Erin Petersen

The doctor is out (of her mind)

By - Aug 27th, 2010 04:00 am
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Photo by Phil Konstantin via WikiCommons

Last week a controversial episode of the Dr. Laura Schlessinger radio show was spread across the wires.

If you missed it, here’s the abridged version: A black woman called in to express concerns about her white husband’s friends and family, who had made racist comments toward her. Before she could finish speaking, Dr. Laura interrupted to tell the caller that she was being “hyper-sensitive.”

It got worse.

She launched into a lengthy diatribe about how using the n-word isn’t racist, her supporting evidence being that “black comics on HBO say it all the time.” She then proceeded to use the word, fully articulated, nearly a dozen times.

Dr. Laura concluded by telling the caller that she “had a chip on her shoulder,” implied that racism was no longer an issue now that a black president is in office, and finally scolded the caller saying ” if you don’t have a sense of humor, then you shouldn’t have married outside of your race.”

Angry letters and phone calls poured in, urging sponsors to drop the show. Dr. Laura did issue an apology , but then a few days later told Larry King that she would leave radio to find a forum where her “First Amendment rights wouldn’t be censored.”

She was not censored by any government agency, and though there are many who would like her silenced, her show will remain on the air for another four months. A few sponsors fell off because they don’t want to be aligned with the statements she made on her show, lest they alienate consumers. That’s how that works with corporate dollars — sponsors drop you when you royally eff up. (Hi, Tiger!)

And surprisingly, many of her fans and counterparts don’t feel that Dr. Laura did anything wrong.

Sarah Palin immediately stepped forward in support,  firing off these sage tweets:

“Dr.Laura:don’t retreat…reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence isn’t American,not fair),” and then again, “Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America! “

For as much as I would love to delve into the fact that Palin couldn’t be forced to spell out the words “amendment,” “be,” “to” and “for,” I will stay on task. However, it’s funny that Mama Grizzly is okay with Dr. Laura using the n-word on the air, but when Rahm Emanuel said “retard” in private company, she called for his resignation. Huh.

I’ll admit that by now, the incident is sort of old news.

But it brings up a much more important issue about a terrifying trend in our culture as of late, that being using political dissent as a veil for patent racism. Or talking heads who use the euphemism “tough-talking” as a way to justify spewing racist, sexist and xenophobic epithets under the guise of “just telling the facts.”

The Tea Party has been the most vocal opposition to the Obama Administration. Last month, the NAACP urged leaders in the Tea Party movement to purge the racists from their following. Instead, Mark Williams, a leader in the Tea Party, responded by posting a disgusting letter on his blog, in which Williams writes to Abraham Lincoln, ostensibly in the voice of what NAACP President Benjamin Jealous :

Dear Mr. Lincoln

We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing.  Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards.  That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!

If you’re not screaming at the screen right now, something’s wrong. When the backlash against Williams’ came, he insisted that the letter was a “joke,” and it was meant to use humor to prove a point. But what sort of  point is made with a farcical letter to Lincoln — written in the voice of a stereotypical “Uncle Tom” character — in support of slavery? And, more importantly, how is that not racist?

Dr. Laura says she was trying to make a point, too, and like Williams she inexplicably used hateful speech and damaging stereotypes to do so. In the process, her arguments came off as an attempt to discredit the idea that racism exists in America. And then, instead of eating crow once the apology was issued, she went on a self-serving campaign to frame herself as somehow victimized by the incident.

She used a woman’s genuine request for advice as a platform to discuss broad, philosophical issues and essentially to ask “why is it okay for black people to say it, but when I do it’s racist?” You would think a Ph.D would know the answer to that question.

Categories: ADversary

0 thoughts on “ADversary: The doctor is out (of her mind)”

  1. Anonymous says:

    She’s still around?? How is she still around? Good lord, she’s revolting.

  2. Anonymous says:

    She’s not really a doctor, but she pretends to be one on the radio.

  3. Anonymous says:

    More than two decades, going strong. There are blogs devoted to her “greatest hits,” aka, a long, depressing list of her most famously offensive quotes. Sigh.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Disappointingly, the “doctor” reflects so much of our culture as it slides backwards rather than at least edging forward in this area. Thanks for the article!

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