Friday, August 20, 2010

The doctor was just being Laura

I never much cared for Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and like her even less now.

Apparently, she skipped the Hippocratic oath, because that whole "first do no harm" thing has long been missing from her M.O. Now I hope those who have blindly followed her all these years finally get it.

I have listened to her show (I like to hear opposing views, in small doses) and always wondered how people could entrust her with major decisions in their lives. People faced with critical decisions about their children, spouses, relatives, and jobs, call this woman night after night (at least in our market), and between being berated and insulted, get modest counsel that they seem to take as gospel.

"Dr. Laura, should I leave my husband?" "Dr. Laura, should I give back the child I adopted?" "Dr. Laura, should I quit my job?"

These are people on the threshold of major moves, and despite the condescending manner in which she typically doles out advice, her callers seem pretty pleased to get it. All from an ultra-conservative, who has demonstrated open bias against gays and now black people (and no telling who will be next).

I am sure you have heard the story of how she berated a caller, who is black and married to a man who is white, after that woman called to ask for advice. She was offended by racist remarks made by her husband's friends, and didn't know quite how to handle it.

Instead of advice she got insulted. In fact, verbally assaulted. I was mad for her. And even more angry because of the way Dr. Laura used the "n word" repeatedly. I actually understand the reasoning she employed, the fact that she has seen and heard black men use the term amongst themselves. Her reasoning is disturbing though.

According the the Christian Science Monitor, Dr. Laura doesn't approve of mixed-race marriages, and accused the woman of being:

"hypersensitive" suggesting that she shouldn't automatically take offense at racial taunts, even if they contained the word "n-----".

"Black guys use it all the time," she declared.

"Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic and all you hear is 'n-----, n-----, n-----.' 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."

The caller became audibly upset, saying that she had been "caught back" by Schlessinger's use of "the n-word,” to which the host duly replied: "I'll say it again: n-----, n----- n-----. If you're that hypersensitive about color, and don't have a sense of humor, then don't marry out of your race."


Knowing the legacy of racism in this country and the pain that word causes black people to this day -- maybe not all, but one is too many -- what benefit comes from using it? Really? She's a smart enough woman to know better, a trained therapist even.

Of course she did apologize, and later announced she was moving on from the show next year to avoid potential controversy over comments she might make in the future. But I believe she was just being herself, the Laura she is when not on the air.

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