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Laura Schlessinger

An American talk radio host, socially conservative commentator and author.

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For Someone Who Calls Themself a "Doctor" She Should Be More Sensitive

  • Aug 18, 2010
Dr. Laura who like Dr. Phil is not really a doctor but because she is on the air giving "advice" and because she has that "doctor" title, believes that what she says is always ok.   After an apology that at first seemed sincere, she announced that she will be quitting her radio program so she will be free to say whatever she wants.  This makes me feel that her apology was written for her by a PR person attempting damage control.

She said that she felt that she was using the "n" word to make a point and meant no harm by the way she said it.  And I have heard her piece and probably agree that she was not trying to be hurtful using the word.  However, one thing she must understand is that to many African Americans, the word is hurtful when uttered by non-African Americans, no matter the context.  You are stepping on egg shells if you think you can get around this (George Carlin was about the only non-African American that I know that could pull this off).

What Dr. Laura has to realize is that any of us that lived in the US before 1970 can still remember a time when segregation in the south was a "fact" and the "n" word was used regularly by hateful people against African Americans on a regular basis.  If you look back at All In the Family which aired throughout the 1970's, this word was still used. 

I remember a recent HBO Special with Chris Rock where he mentions that there is only one acceptable time for a non-African American to use the "n' word and he went on to come up with the most complicated case possible.  Though it was part of a comedy monologue, there was a ring of truth to what Chris was saying and how he felt when he hears that word spoken.

Dr. Laura is a smart person and her "advice" is generally good.  I wish her the best of luck in her future endevours and I hope that she doesn't use other mediums to spew whatever comes to mind.  I hope that she really was sincere in that apology and is more "sensitive" to others when she speaks on mediums that reach millions.

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February 11, 2011
To be honest, I think Dr Laura gave voice to a rather prevalent frustration that many white folk have, relative to the double-standard of the use of the word "nigger." The problem however is that what she said was sufficiently out of touch with the history of the word that it is substantively an affront to civil discourse and the struggle to put the legacy of racism behind our nation.

The word "nigger" is not just a racial slur.  The word entered English from anglicized Spanish and Portugese as a variant of "negro" (from "nigro" meaning "black") and has always been particularly associated with defining the place of black folk as below the place of white folk, as well as the threats of violence and terrorism necessary to enforce such a social station.

We need to remember that in living memory it was not uncommon for groups to use violence including murder to keep "niggers" from getting "uppity" and that this plays very much into the social dynamics of the word.

When a white person calls a black person a "nigger" this then becomes a different social action than when a black person calls another black person the same thing.  The first carries a threat of direct violence, while the second carries a warning of violence by third parties.  That doesn't make the latter less oppressive than the former though.

Against this background, Dr Laura's statements contain the subtext of "How dare you black folk discriminate against us white folk?  We want an equal opportunity to be your oppressors!"  Substituting "n-word" for "nigger" doesn't make this go away.  The desire to be free to use such a word is a legacy of racism and this is as true for the use of the term among black folk as it is among anyone else.  The answer is to discuss whether it is helpful for the use of the word among anyone to be tolerated given the close historical tie to racial oppression, intimidation, and violence.

I think this double standard may be far more symptomatic of deep remaining racial issues, and it is high time we as a nation got together and had an open conversation about this.  We must come to the table willing to tolerate being offended in the name of being challenged to face our differences and try to build bridges.

The legacy of racism in this nation is still carried around by nearly American (perhaps excluding very recent immigrants), regardless of race or ethnicity, yet that legacy is invisible because it is not overt.    I would hope that by coming together across these lines we can see it, be challenged by it, and ultimately build the connections we need to put that chapter in our history to rest.

This doesn't mean that I think that most Americans think one race is necessarily superior or should be in power at the expense of other races, and I wouldn't even call carrying on such a legacy "racist" because I think there is value to defining such a term narrowly, and because I don't think these "echos" or "legacies" are specific to racism.  Even if we recognize race for what it is (a cultural construct used to defend cultural identity in the face of change and to guard against loss of political power), that doesn't mean that we do not unknowingly further  some impersonal mechanisms  of that construct. For example, I don't think the Time Magazine staff were consciously trying to change the darkness of OJ Simpson's skin in their photos of him before vs after the murder investigation began, but yet such a change is obvious if you do a comparison.

We need to get together, talk, and listen, sacrificing our willingness to take offense, and to try to understand things from as many viewpoints as possible.  I think we are able to begin to move beyond these ugly aspects of our history, but the journey will not be fast or easy, and we can't do it if we can't talk about how words like "nigger" play into it.
February 14, 2011
Snootch: The only disagreement I have with you is that I don't think that "redneck" and "nigger" are really comparable beyond the in-group vs out-group usage issues.   It is a disagreement which is at once narrow but could be profound as well.

I don't think "nigger" is just a slur against some group. "Redneck" and "Cracker" both lack the history of violence used to enforce the stereotypes that "nigger" has. If someone describes himself as a "redneck" I don't really have a problem with that although I am open to discussions as to why that might be a bad thing. If a farmer calls another farmer a "redneck" again, I don't think that is necessarily a problem although again, I don't know as much about the history of the term as I would like so I could change my mind.

Something that might hit closer to the mark might be calling Jews "Christ-Killers" because again there has historically been a threat of violence behind such a label. But it too is different because unlike "nigger," which was used to define a social place for black folk, "Christ-killer" was intended to deny ANY social place for Jews so it lacks effectiveness as an in-group warning.

"Nigger" is the only word I know of that combines a definition of acceptable social place with an implicit threat of violence for stepping outside it. I am not sure there are any other equivalents. But this makes the continued acceptable use within the black community rather troubling in a way that other in-group uses of any other pejorative isn't.

Then again, perhaps I have been reading too much Derrida.....
February 06, 2011
Well said, MichaelN! Only the most passionate Dr. Laura sycophant could possibly think it was OK for her to act this way, and her "apology" was petulant and childish. She's an American and has the right to say what she wants - and other Americans like her have the same right to respond to her offensive language honestly. They voted with their feet, and she lost a lot of fans while making her point. That's how it works - she just didn't like it. Funny how her principles don't hold up when they work against her.
February 07, 2011
I used to like her show and hope she gets back. We are generally a forgiving nation when it comes to media personalities. What sometimes delays their return is what I call a "fake" apology. This is when someone says I am sorry if some people were offended by what I said, instead of just apologizing for what was said with I little "I really don't think that way" thrown in. The former type just insults the listener's intelligence more while the latter shows that the speaker is genuinely sorry for their comments.
September 11, 2010
What really gets me, too, is the stupidity of the racial slur. She should have instinctively known that the n word in any context would be offensive. However, Dr. Laura can call herself "doctor" because she has a PhD.
February 09, 2011
Well, on one hand, I find it extremely disturbing that it's accepted for folks inside a defined group to slur eachother. This does not strike me as healthy. But I think that what Dr Laura actually said is problematic on a much deeper note. What she said comes across as saying "How dare you black folk discriminate against us white folk!" To my mind, this is where the real, substantive offence comes from. I'd feel the same way if she said "n-word" instead of "nigger."
August 23, 2010
I thought Dr. Laura's apology was even more nauseous than her original commentary. I was watching one of the NBC news programs where she was voted 'Dumbest Person of the Week' and I thought that fit just about perfectly.
August 18, 2010
I concur, I do not listen to her ot other talk radio shows. In the car it is classical or teaching Co. cd's,, (an example I recommend to all on Lunch.com). I just think that all of these talking heads regardless of whether they are on the right or left act like "shock jocks" to boost ratings. I am appalled at how low political discourse in this country has sunk, a pox on both their houses. It has caused our politicians to include the majority of the senate stoop to the low standard set for them mainly set by talking media heads. Good unbiased journalism in this country is just about dead.
August 19, 2010
People need to view them as "entertainers" exposing their own viewpointsand not new reportors. Unfortunately regular new stories seemed to get skewed to those viewpoints and you don't get fair reporting.
More Laura Schlessinger reviews
review by . February 09, 2011
   First, let me say this.  As a nation we need to have a conversation about the word "nigger."  We need to look at the historical use of the word, how it has been used to oppress black folk, and how its continued use today (yes, by many in the black community) continues to oppress today.  This conversation is necessary to the continued struggle to overcome the legacy of racism in our nation.  The fact that Dr Laura complained about this double standard even …
Quick Tip by . August 18, 2010
posted in Politics Your Way
I do not listen to her or other talk radio shows. In the car it is classical or Teaching Co. cd's, (an example I recommend to all on Lunch.com). I just think that all of these talking heads regardless of whether they are on the right or left act like "shock jocks" to boost ratings. I majored in Pol. Sci. as an undergrad and history and philosophy in graduate school and am presently an adjunct professor in Asian history, and I am appalled at how low political discourse in this country …
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Laura Catherine Schlessinger (born January 16, 1947) is an American talk radio host, socially conservative commentator  and author. Her call-in radio program occasionally features short monologues on social and political topics, but consists mainly of her responses to callers' requests for personal advice. Schlessinger's answers have been variously characterized as direct, wise, to-the-point, abrupt and cruel. Her website says that her show "preaches, teaches, and nags about morals, values and ethics."

Previously, Schlessinger combined a local radio career with a private practice as a marriage and family counselor, but since going national she has concentrated her efforts on the daily syndicated The Dr. Laura Program, and on authoring self-help books. A television talk show was launched in 2000, but it was short-lived. The Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, and The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands are among her bestselling works.
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