Physiologist, Heal Thyself

August 18, 2010 - 3:28 pm
Irradiated by LabRat
Comments Off

So recently there was a kerfuffle in which “Doctor Laura” Laura Schlessinger, radio advice show host, bitch-slapped a black caller as being “hypersensitive” to her neighbor’s race-based taunting and elected to illustrate her point by tossing “nigger” around eleven times in the course of the call. As one does when one is attempting to demonstrate one’s philosophical superiority* and authority as the mature advice-giving party. In any case, the predictable shitstorm occurred and Schlessinger apologized and said she had said “the wrong thing”. I didn’t feel it worth comment at the time, since Schlessinger has been verbally abusing callers from a very socially conservative position for years and it would be a bit like waking up and making the horrifying discovery that Keith Olbermann had said something misogynistic about a conservative woman. You don’t excuse it, but you’re not SURPRISED by it, and at this point nobody who calls in can really expect to be shocked when she tears them a new one, fairly or no.

But it seems Schlessinger has felt so wounded after this experience (which is hardly a new one for her, as she’s suffered major media shitstorms before over other “direct” things she’s said) that she’s leaving radio. Why? Because, she says, she wants to regain her first amendment rights. No shit.

During an interview on “Larry King Live” on CNN, Schlessinger said, “My contract is up for my radio show at the end of the year, and I’ve made the decision not to do radio anymore.”

She added: “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 and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special-interest group deciding this is the time to silence a voice of dissent and attack affiliates, attack sponsors. I’m sort of done with that.” ……

Although she said her sponsors and affiliates have backed her, Schlessinger, 63 — who holds a PhD in physiology from Columbia University — told King that she lived in “constant fear” that critics would attack them for her remarks.

“I never called anybody a bad word. I was trying to bring — and obviously it has become a national discussion now — I was trying to make a philosophical point,” she said. “And I made it wrong, but I wasn’t dissing anybody. I was trying to make a point, and for that to say that I should be silenced is the reason why I’m saying to you that I’m obviously losing First Amendment rights.”

It’s more or less obligatory to note at this point that Schlessinger has no fucking idea what the First Amendment actually means; she’s made a long and very renumerative career out of broadcasting and publishing whatever she thinks. At no point has anybody of relevance ever, ever, actually suggested that she can or should be legally prevented from expressing her opinions. She can say whatever she likes without legal restriction so long as it is not libelous. This right is fully protected by the First Amendment whether you’re an internet crackpot, a street-corner preacher, or a radio show hostess, and it has never been restricted for her.

What she seems to THINK she has a right to is to be able to say whatever the hell she thinks and for her and her sponsors to experience no consequences for it. The First Amendment does NOT guarantee a funded soapbox, and it does not immunize anybody from criticism. It’s every bit as much the right of people, scary “special interest groups” or no, to engage in speech expressing their displeasure with her speech, and to withdraw monetary support for her speech. If she is so very worried about her tender little sponsors, who are making a monetary bet that more people will enjoy listening to her than not, she can think about what she fucking says before she says it. Her entire career is built on an audience, and nothing in the Constitution guarantees her that audience, and her sponsors’ monetary contribution is made because they are betting on that audience. Audiences have every bit as much right to react to what she says as she has to say it, even if she may regard those members of her audience who are minorities of varying sorts to be icky people that shouldn’t be able to influence her life.

This confusion about “freedom of speech” equating to “freedom from criticism that actually affects the speaker in any way” is a common one, and ordinarily I wouldn’t regard yet another instance of it as worth much comment. What pops the vein in my temple is that Laura Schlessinger has built her entire fucking career on outspoken criticism of others. What she evidently feels she deserves is complete freedom to say whatever she thinks of them without having to experience any negative backlash involving what others think of her. If you make a business out of acidic criticism, a lot of people will think less of you for it and if enough do they may make you feel it financially; if you want to be in that business, you roll with the punches. I don’t see Rush Limbaugh tearfully taking his ball and going home when people say nasty things about him and try to boycott him, and his media profile has always been far above hers.

Schlessinger should take one of her own book titles to heart and stop whining. And for that matter, if she wants to go out as a martyr and get anyone to take her seriously at all, maybe she shouldn’t have chosen such an unfuckingbelievably stupid hill to die on.

*Her point was that black comedians say it all the time, therefore it must not actually be a bad word. Which, no; there are some words that members of a group can say and out-group members can’t without the context and felt intent changing drastically. Culture and context aren’t run on a playground definition of “fair”. However, this is not the point of this post.

No Responses to “Physiologist, Heal Thyself”

  1. Old NFO Says:

    That whole thing is just weird… She jumped the wrong horse this time and it came back and bit her in the butt… and you are correct, she doesn’t have a clue!!!

  2. S Says:

    I still agree with the analysis that the founding fathers were all about checks and balances. They created the right to freedom of speech in the same time period where dueling was fairly common for solving the insult problem. So yes, the government won’t get in your way for saying what you want- but that doesn’t, and shouldn’t, prevent others from responding to whatever it is. A that time that could mean “you will NOT talk to, or about, me, or my family in that way. pistols at dawn.”

    The built in check to the government letting you say what ever you want was that other people might not (and didn’t have to) let you. we seem to have lost that part of the equation.

  3. GD Says:

    I totally agree with everything you wrote… but explain this to me:
    http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/20070212_dixie_chicks_honored_by_aclu/#

    I see incredible parallels in these two cases… I originally went-a-googling to see if Dr. Idgit ever weighed in on the Idgit Chicks incident. I guess what confounds me is that some folks seem to perfectly understand the first amendment when applying it to someone else, but when they are under the spotlight, the meaning changes dramatically.

  4. Mousie00 Says:

    It shouldn’t need to be explained, but it does, and you explained it very well. The First Amendment gives you a right to speak, not a right to an audience. If Dr. Laura gets audited on her next tax return, there may possibly be a First Amendment issue. If people don’t want to listen or sponsors don’t want to pay for it, that has nothing to do with her right to speak.

  5. Amy Says:

    Preach on! There are all kinds of people in the media today, on both sides of the political spectrum, who seem to think that they can say whatever they want without having to deal with any kind of consequence whatsoever. It gets old real fast AND it makes the person look silly.

    Engage the brain before opening the mouth.

  6. LabRat Says:

    The Chicks engaged in 1st Amendment 101, say what you think, take the consequences. I saw plenty of people saying their rights had been infringed, but can’t recall seeing the Chicks themselves say that. I thought what the did was in poor taste, but it was their call to make.

    And yeah, people seem to immediately forget what the 1st actually means the second it’s them in the crosshairs.

  7. The Old Man Says:

    Y’all have missed ye olde point. She left radio. For Money. She will probably go to tv bigtime ridin’ the buzz. LOTS o’ money.

    Who’s the loser (critics? Please? Thank you) Nobody I can see…..

  8. LabRat Says:

    She’s already failed miserably once on television. The way she spoke of it she liked the experience even less than she liked this one.

  9. Sendarius Says:

    Nit Pick Alert:

    … reNUMerative … ?? I think you mean reMUNerative.

  10. John Says:

    “And for that matter, if she wants to go out as a martyr and get anyone to take her seriously at all, maybe she shouldn’t have chosen such an unfuckingbelievably stupid hill to die on.”

    Quote of the day. Pick your battles. But then, I haven’t had any respect for her since the day a male caller called in wanting help because he wasn’t physically aroused by his (now obese) wife any more, and she went off on him.

  11. Rusty P Bucket Says:

    Hi all~

    Doctor Laura is absolutely right! And she has no business apologizing to the politically correct rabble.

    If you need a shrink to do give you advice you probably ain’t tht bright to begin with and it is pretty low of some moron to ask for her advice and thoughts and then bitch about them when the woman answers honestly and truthfully.

    todays younger crowd have been steeped in liberal political correctness and that is why they foam at the mouth when such people talk common sense. If I have to tolerate some black piece of chit like obama or Jesse Jackson then they can damned well respect Dr. Laura.

    I wish her well, myself.

  12. Tam Says:

    Rusty,

    Does your wife get pissed when you cut eyeholes in her good pillowcases?

  13. Rusty P Bucket Says:

    No but she gets real mad when I wipe my arse on the drapes ha ha ha!

    Sorry chickie, but the racists are right about a few thi ngs and I don’t like it any more than anyone else – but the truth is what it is. Dr. Laura’s only sin was saying it out loud.

  14. Don meaker Says:

    I find the entire concept of “forbidden words” amusing. I find the notion that “in group” can use words that are forbidden to the “out group” particularly obnoxious.

    Mules always claim their ancestors are horses.

  15. Tam Says:

    Don,

    Personally, I just find ethnic slurs, like cursing, a little gauche and declasse.

    Not that I don’t sometimes engage in a bit of gaucherie myself, but there’s a time and a place.

  16. Rusty P Bucket Says:

    In other words, it’s OK for you to do it but nobody else…ha ha ha!

    I would l ike to make a joke about the pot calling the kettle black…but that might tempt some twit to play the race card again…

  17. Tam Says:

    You really are one simple sonofabitch, aren’t you, Rusty?

  18. Rusty P Bucket Says:

    Naw, just raised in better times by better people than you.

  19. john b Says:

    (pulls up chair, places popcorn and beer in easy reach)

    Dayum, Rusty! you aint that much smarter than Dr Laura OR her caller, are you?

    Only reason Tam hasn’t skinned you out with a dull ‘Rusty’ knife, is she respects the equipment, the knife, not your ignorant hide, too much.

    And your reply leaves doubt as to whether those people bothered to raise you at all.

  20. Tam Says:

    Naw, just raised…

    As the old saying goes, “you raise cattle; you rear children.” This would explain why you act as though you’d been raised in a barn.

  21. LabRat Says:

    You can kick and moan about “fair” and “but HE gets to use it and HE doesn’t get in trouble” all you like, but the fact that the word in question- along with many other words with similar troubling histories- was once most commonly spoken by one group to another right before an act of physical or political violence and can only be spoken by the other in irony does in fact change the goddamn context and none of the playground logic in the world will change that fact. We can talk about what would be fair on a hypothetical planet where none of that happened and we were all starting from an idealized scratch, but the fact is we live on this one and not that one.

    That said, I think very fucking little of the class of anyone who will show up to piss on the campfire while its tenders are away. I would otherwise be potentially willing to argue this, and maybe in some hypothetical future thread, but not now. Thank you Tam for watching this, but this discussion is now over.

  22. Rusty P. Bucket Says:

    I can’t pay attention or respect others’ property! Please ignore me!

    Our house, our rules. This discussion is now over. Please do as the authors ask on the rare occasions they do and we shall all have a nice day.

  23. Stingray Says:

    Rusty, in every instance I have seen your comments you have been poor of manner, slow of wit, and dull of tongue. Life is too short to brook those deemed below the standards of employment for the DMV. Go away.