Dr Laura

Dr. Laura is leaving her radio program after making some inflammatory remarks. She has been making rude and abusive statements for years, so there is nothing surprising about this incident. Her own personal life does not hold up to the standards she tries to impose on other people, but some people seem to enjoy being ridiculed in public. The kind of pop psychology she dispenses has little or no value in the real world. The real draw to her show that kept listeners tuned in is the joy a lot of people seem to get from listening to other people’s misery.

In this particular case, she was talking with a black woman who is married to a white man. The possibility was raised that some of the problems she and her husband were having were due to cultural (meaning racial) differences. Dr. Laura used “the N word” in this conversation. The word is widely used in some varieties of music, and is often applied by black men, especially young black men, when talking to each other. Maybe some day white people can use it in conversation, too, but that day has not arrived. It is a pejorative term and has no place in polite conversation. Remember when Don Imus referred to a basketball team as “nappy headed hos”? He lost his regular job over that.

A big problem with Dr. Laura’s use of the term in question was she seemed to enjoy it a bit too much. It was like she had tension building inside for a long time because she could not utter this specific word. Then, when she finally did, she said it over and over, a total of 11 times. This was definitely not a slip of the tongue.

A lot of noise has been generated since her outburst about freedom of speech, as if she were somehow being denied her rights under the 1st Amendment. She herself claimed she was leaving the radio program in order to reclaim her 1st Amendment rights. The 1st Amendment protects citizens from government infringement on their right to free speech. It has nothing to do with private enterprise. The 1st Amendment guarantees that the government will not punish you for speaking on almost any subject you like. It does not in any way require a radio or television broadcast station or network to allow you to say anything you like and remain on the air.

It will probably be at least another generation, and maybe two, before some of the sting of racial epithets will fade. Until then, diatribes like the one by Dr. Laura cause pain and anger. She needs to find a way to make a living doing something else. She has joined the ranks of Howard Cosell, Rush Limbaugh, and Don Imus as a well-known white person who thought it was okay to make racially tainted public statements.