Leslie Cook

Was Dr. Laura Right?

In Black America on August 18, 2010 at 7:00 am

A week or so again Dr. Laura Schlessinger was nailed by everyone for repeatedly saying the “N” word on the radio.  She told the caller that they  “… need a sense of humor” and that they were “over sensitive” about the word.  She also seems to think that because we have a Black president, we should all get over this race thing.

I have several points to make on this topic, some of which deal with the use of the “N” word, and some having to do with Dr. Laura missing the whole point of the call.

The Recap

To recap, the caller wanted advice on what to do about what she perceived as “racist” comments from her in-laws and from her husbands friends.  Her husband apparently didn’t stand up for her when these comments were made.  The caller is Black and her husband is White.  Dr. Laura asked for examples and the caller gave an example of what she thought was racist from one of her neighbors.  Apparently the neighbor is always asking what black people think and what they’d do in a certain situation.  Dr. Laura jumped in, stating that what the neighbor said wasn’t racist.

At this point, the conversation went south.  The caller said that the “N” word was being used. Dr Laura proceeded to go off about how Blacks are ultra sensitive about the “N” word, how Blacks use it all the time and that there’s a double standard about its use.  She stated that a lot of Blacks voted for Obama because he was half Black.  She implied that because we have a Black president the complaining should stop.  Her words? “We’ve got a black man as president, and we have more complaining about racism than ever. I mean, I think that’s hilarious.”   Dr. Laura said that the caller had a “chip” on her shoulder because the caller didn’t like her using the “N” word.  Dr. Laura said that we couldn’t have a conversation because of the caller’s hypersensitivity about race and her lack of a sense of humor.  She also said that, if the caller was that sensitive, she shouldn’t have married out of her race.  According to Dr. Laura, if you marry out of your race, people are going to ask you stupid questions.

What Dr. Laura Got Right

1)      The caller’s neighbor wasn’t racist.  From the information the caller gave, her neighbor didn’t seem racist.  This doesn’t mean that the neighbor wasn’t racist, it just means that there was insufficient information to come to that conclusion.  Asking someone what Black people think about something is actually a good thing.  Sometimes we do see things differently and frankly, most White people are perplexed about the way we see things but are afraid to ask about it.  Given the example provided by the caller, the neighbor didn’t seem racist; he seemed either very curious or a jerk.

2)     Is there a double standard when using the “N” word?  Yes there is.  Dr. Laura was right.  White people can’t use the “N” word and live.   Black people can use the word.  But honestly, if you ask most Black people whether they like it when the word is used, most of them would probably say “No,” especially if the person you ask is over 50.  This statement holds true no matter who is using the word, but yes, we do get a lot more upset if  the person using the word is not Black.  It’s a historical thing.

What Dr. Laura Got Wrong

1)      Dr. Laura never addressed the real problem, i.e., the caller’s husband’s inability to stand up for his wife with friends and family.  The caller’s initial concerns really had nothing to do about race at its heart. It has to do with her husband’s lack of sensitivity to her needs.  My guess is that her husband just doesn’t understand how hurt she is about his friends and families comments.  My advice to her? If someone says something you don’t like, tell them you don’t like it.  Don’t wait for your husband to fight your fights.  If your mother-in-law is using the “N” word and you don’t like it, tell her.  If she keeps doing it, stop going over their house.  Easy.

2)     Yes, we can have a conversation about race.  Dr. Laura seems to think that we can’t talk about race because Blacks are too sensitive and lack a sense of humor.  Sometimes we are too sensitive.  Sometimes Jews are too sensitive. Sometimes the Irish are too sensitive.  Muslims? They can be too sensitive too.  Does that mean we can’t talk?  Nope.  It means that we’re not going to have a very productive conversation if the first thing out of your mouth is the “N” word, and you justify using it cause Black comics us the word on HBO.  Come on!  Dr. Laura, if you could deliver the “N” word like Chris Rock, I’d give you permission to use it.  Until that day, please put the word back into the “words I can’t use” box and shut the lid.

3)     Because we have a Black president, should we all just get over the race thing already?  Well, it would be nice if we could get past the race thing.  But just because we have a biracial president doesn’t mean that all of the issued surrounding race will disappear.  Just because a white majority voted Obama into office doesn’t mean that they now get a pass when they discriminate against anyone.  Oh and by the way, it also doesn’t mean that Blacks get a pass when they discriminate either.  Things don’t magically disappear and the problems that existed before Obama was president are still there.  It has gotten better in my lifetime.  Hopefully it will get much better in the future, but the problems are still there even if Dr. Laura thinks they’re gone.

Have Dr. Laura’s First Amendment Rights Been Usurped by Angry Hateful Groups?

On August 17, Dr. Laura went on the Larry King show and said the following:

Well, I’m here to say that my contract is up for my radio show at the end of the year and I have made the decision not to do radio anymore. The reason is: I want to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what’s on my mind, and in my heart, what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent, and attack affiliates and attack sponsors.

My comments?

1)      Well, at least she’s waiting until the end of her contract and not doing a Sara Palin.  My guess is that this has nothing to do with her “First Amendment rights.”  I suspect that its about the cash.  We’ll see more of Dr. Laura on Fox news sometime next year.

2)     The First Amendment says that you have the right to free speech.  The problem with that is that, apparently I also have a right to free speech.  So Dr. Laura can present her opinions and I can comment on her opinions.  It’s the commenting that bothers Dr. Laura and apparently a lot of other people.  Too bad.  It’s the First Amendment.

What do you think about all of this?  Do you agree with Dr. Laura?  Let me know!

You can find the full audio of the conversation here:  http://mediamatters.org/blog/201008120045

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