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What is Wrong with Dr. Laura and Her Apology?

August 22, 2010

I am taking a break from my regularly scheduled programming to break down Dr. Laura’s on-air apology that she read and published in her blog, neatly titled (as if a detention essay in elementary school) My Apology.

I became aware of this incident (ensconced as I am in Argentina) by listening to Comedy and Everything Else. The latest episode included comics W. Kamau Bell and Kevin Avery along with regular hosts Jimmy Dore and Stefane Zamorano. Their breakdown of the Dr. Laura rant is way more entertaining than anything I could present for you here. Though I would relish the opportunity to break it down myself, I can’t be so sure that I wouldn’t be culling jabs from what I’ve already heard, so I invite you to have a listen at the website.

What I’m presenting here is Dr. Laura’s lukewarm apology as a transcript and for the sake of clarity, I include at the end of this entry the audio and transcript of the incident in question. Her later appearance on Larry King Live is also included here where you can witness the complete absence of remorse on Schlessinger’s part as she rants on about the violation of her First Amendment rights. This requires no translation as the good “Doctor” makes her point of view appallingly clear.

My Apology

I talk every day about doing the right thing. 
For instance, you all know my views on abortion and how I believe that homosexuality is a biological error.

And yesterday, I did the wrong thing. 
That’s what my producers tell me.

I didn’t intend to hurt people, but I did. 
The most important people I hurt, of course, are my producers and the sponsors of my show who are just trying to make money in the best way they know how.
People are hypersensitive. By that I mean Black people, of course. And so just like every other white person who says what they really think, I’ll have to eat my words and cater to the Black political activists that are poisoning American minds with their delusional, self centered rhetoric. These people destroy careers and rob those of us who have only the best intentions of our voice and First Amendment rights.

And that makes it the wrong thing to have done.
Insomuch as I am having to give up my job, though my producers are giving me the option of making it seem like my own decision.

I was attempting to make a philosophical point, and I articulated the “n” word all the way out – more than one time. 
My philosophical point is one that I stand behind. Much like many other great thinkers throughout history, I am simply misunderstood.

In case you missed it, my point is that the Blacks have chips on their shoulders – enough chips to fill every party dish until the end of time. To be civilized, a Black person, when questioned by a white as if they are an ambassador who knows every other Black American on the face of the earth, should behave as such.

I mean, really! That’s all we want! So you should suck it up and answer us and realize that we are not capable of seeing you as sensitive individuals with unique ideas, but as one of a massive culture that we don’t understand, and tell us about it. How else are we supposed to be comfortable with you?

You should be grateful that we are curious about you. Instead, you destroy these shining nuggets of opportunity to be seen as people by people like me. It’s no wonder our points of view have been frozen in amber since the 1970’s.

So often, white people are forced to modify their speech for the sake of not offending anyone. I still object to the hampering of freedom that occurs when I, as a white woman, am made uncomfortable by having to think about the things I say.

And that was wrong.  I’ll say it again – that was wrong.

That’s what I’m told.

I ended up, I’m sure, with many of you losing the point I was trying to make, because you were shocked by the fact that I said the word. 

So you see, it is not I that have missed an important point, but you, the listeners, and especially those of you who are Black and clearly brainwashed to be overly sensitive. I’m making a point here. And that point is that it’s not fair for Black people to use the word nigger and for whites to be left out of that joy!

I, myself, realized I had made a horrible mistake, and was so upset I could not finish the show.  I pulled myself off the air at the end of the hour.  I had to finish the hour, because 20 minutes of dead air doesn’t work.  I am very sorry.  And it just won’t happen again.

I really was terribly upset by the vitriolic tantrum that my producer subjected me to. In fact, I still am. “What on earth are you thinking about? Do you have any idea what you’ve just done?” he said. “You just committed career suicide, you stupid, stupid woman! We’re all out of a fucking job.”

I received some letters, and what touched me is that, even though many of you were upset, you still showed friendship for all the years we’ve been together on the air, and for that, trust me, I am very grateful. 

I received some letters, that’s true. Most of them were from other white people that made it very clear that they were quite pleased with what I had done. They all wanted me to know that I was an inspiration. It had been years since they had heard the word nigger shouted loudly and clearly by another white person on the radio. Even Mel Gibson gets bleeped out. They were feeling unheard and silenced. And they wanted me to know that they were behind me 100%.

You may also be surprised to know that, though a much smaller contingent of my listening audience, I do have several Black listeners. Many of them were very angry about what I had said and in typical fashion, they missed the point and reacted passionately (as so many of them do) against what they perceived me to have said.

Here’s an example:

I’d like to thank this woman for sending me this letter.  I was so very touched, and truthfully, it helped me make it through the night.  So I’m going to read this letter:

Luckily, after several hours of scanning many, many emails, my assistant was able to come up with a letter that was just what we were looking for. A fan who identifies herself as Black says she doesn’t believe that I’m racist. I just want to present this to you so you can see how at least one of my Black listeners says that I’m not racist and also as an exemplary sample of how it’s possible for a Black person to register a complaint in diplomatic and articulate way.

Dear Dr. Laura:
I have been a listener for at least 20 years.  I have bought and read several of your books.  I have always held you in high regard, and have encouraged others to listen to you as well.  I have to say, after today’s call with the African-American woman with the Caucasian husband who called seeking how to handle “racist” comments, I am a bit dismayed.  I believe that African-Americans using the n-word is disdainful, as well as Caucasians or any other race for that matter.  I agree that the argument some African-Americans use that it is ok for them to use it and not others, is ridiculous.  But, I have to say, when I heard you saying the word repeatedly, it struck a negative chord with me.
I don’t believe you are a racist, and I don’t believe, as an African-American woman, that I am hypersensitive.  I have to say after the call, I found it difficult to continue to listen to the rest of the show.  I have not made the decision to stop listening to your show, but I felt compelled to respond because I found it offensive.
Sincerely {and she gives her name}

One last note -
The caller in question (her name is Jade), called for help from me, and didn’t get it, because we got embroiled in the “n” word, and I’m really sorry about that, because I’m here for only one reason and that’s to be helpful, so I hope Jade or somebody who knows her is listening, and hope she will call me back and I will try my best to be helpful, which is what she wanted from me in the first place and what she did not get.

When I hear the N word, I get so upset. Jade was the one that brought it up! It just kills me that Black people can say it without any repercussions and I can’t. If I got distracted and didn’t help Jade, I hope you can understand that as soon as I hear someone say “N word” I just lose all sense of whatever may have occurred up until that point, because the injustice of the censorship I and anyone else who isn’t Black is subject to as far as the word is concerned is just so profound.

Anyway, I got distracted and I freely admit that it was wrong. So upset was I about this that I failed. I failed to get my point through to Jade about how overly sensitive she is as a Black woman and how she doesn’t have a sense of humor and is, in essence, damaged goods who should probably not have married a white man. All these prescient points were drowned out by my saying (what I now understand I have to call) the N word.

And I never really brought help to a woman who desperately needed to be told that she should know her place. For that I’m truly sorry. So if you are Jade or you know her, I hope you can let her know I’d like to talk to her and make sure to make myself perfectly clear and earnestly help her understand my point of view. I just don’t think I was able to get through to her the other night, and I’d like another chance.

Further, this is what she said on Larry King:

At around the three minute mark, you can hear the following (and it goes downhill from there). It’s so long and the flood of bullshit seems like it will never end, but check it out if you haven’t had your fill of outrage for the day:

Well, I’m here to say that 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. 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, uh, deciding to silence a voice of dissent and attack affiliates and attack sponsors. I’m sort of ‘done’ with that. I’m not retiring. I’m not quitting. I feel energized, actually, stronger and freer to say the things I believe need to be said for people and this country.

Audio of the original call:

Here’s the transcript of the original phone call:

Dr. Laura: Jade, welcome to the program.

Jade: Hi, Dr. Laura.

Dr. Laura: Hi.

Jade: I’m having an issue with my husband where I’m starting to grow very resentful of him. I’m black, and he’s white. Uh. We’ve been around some of his friends and family members who start make racist, start making racist comments as if I’m not there or if I’m not black. And my husband ignores those comments, and it hurts my feelings. And then he just acts like —

Dr. Laura: Well, can you give me an example of a racist comment? ‘Cause sometimes people are hypersensitive. So tell me what’s — give me two good examples of racist comments.

Jade: OK. Last night — good example — we had a neighbor come over, and this neighbor. When every time he comes over, it’s always a black comment. It’s, “Ooooh, well, how do you black people like doing this?” and “Do black people really like doing that?” And for a long time, I would ignore it. But last night, I got to the point where it —

Dr. Laura: I don’t think that’s racist.
Jade: Uh. Well, the stereotype —

Dr. Laura: I don’t think that’s racist. No, I think that —

Jade: tries to say something, but is talked over by–

Dr. Laura: No, no, no. I think that’s… Well, listen, without giving much thought, a lot of blacks voted for Obama simply ’cause he was half-black. Didn’t matter what he was gonna do in office, it was a black thing. You gotta know that. That’s not a surprise. Not everything that somebody says… We had friends over the other day. We got about 35 people here — the guys who were gonna start playing basketball. I was going to go out and play basketball. My bodyguard and my dear friend is a black man. And I said, “White men can’t jump. I want you on my team.” That was racist? That wasfunny.

Jade: How about the N-word? So, the N-word’s been thrown around —

Dr. Laura: Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic, and all you hear is nigger, nigger, nigger.

Jade: That isn’t —

Dr. Laura: 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. Don’t hang up, I want to talk to you some more. Don’t go away. I’m Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I’ll be right back.

The show breaks back in after a commercial with Sly and the Family Stone’s Everyday People.

Dr. Laura: I’m Dr. Laura Schlessinger, talking to Jaaa-aade. What did you think about during the break, by the way? (This pronunciation if the Jade’s name is straight out of the Oprah handbook.)

Jade: Uh, I was a little caught back by the N-word that you spewed out, I have to be honest with you. But my point is, race relations —

Dr. Laura: Oh, then I guess you don’t watch HBO or listen to anyblack comedians.

Jade: But that doesn’t make it right. I mean, race is a — since Obama’s been in office–

Dr. Laura: My dear, my dear, the point I’m trying to make–

Jade: — racism has come to another level that’s unacceptable.

Dr. Laura: Yeah. We’ve got a black man as president, and we have more complaining about racism than ever. I mean, I think that’s hil-arious.

Jade: But I think, honestly, because there’s more white people afraid of a black man taking over the nation.

Dr. Laura: They’re afraid.
Jade: If you want to be honest about it —

Dr. Laura: Dear, they voted him in. Only 12 percent of the population’s black. Whites voted him in.

Jade: It was the younger generation that did it. It wasn’t the older white people who did it.

Dr. Laura: Oh, OK.

Jade: It was the younger generation —

Dr. Laura: Aaall right. Aaaaall right. Chip on your shoulder. I can’t do much about that. (This entire time, she is talking over the Jade.) Yeah. I think you have too much sensitivity —

[Jade: So it’s OK to say “nigger”?
[Dr. Laura: — and not enough sense of humor.

Jade: It’s okay to say that word?

Dr. Laura: Well, it depends how it’s said.

Jade: Is it, is it okay to say that word? Is it ever OK to say that word?

Dr. Laura: It’s — it depends how it’s said. Black guys talking to each other seem to think it’s OK.

Jade: But you’re not black. They’re not black. My husband is white.

Dr. Laura: Oh, I see. So, a word is restricted to race. Got it. Can’t do much about that.

Jade: I can’t believe someone like you is on the radio sprewing out the “nigger” word, and I hope everybody heard it.

Dr. Laura: I didn’t spew out the “nigger” word.

Jade: You said, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.”

[Dr. Laura: Right, I said that’s what you hear.
[Jade: Everybody heard it.

Dr. Laura: Yes, they did.
Jade: I hope everybody heard it.

[Dr. Laura: They did, and I’ll say it again. Nigger, nigger, nigger is what you hear on HB —
[Jade: So what makes it OK for you to say the word? So what makes it –
[Dr. Laura: Why don’t you let me finish a sentence?

Jade: OK.

[Dr. Laura: Don’t take things out of context. Don’t double N — NAACP me. Take the — Leave them in context.
[Jade: I know what the N-word means and I know it came from a white person. And I know the white person made it bad.

Dr. Laura: All right. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Can’t have this argument. You know what? If you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race. If you’re gonna marry out of your race, people are gonna say, “OK, what do blacks think? What do whites think? What do Jews think? What do Catholics think?” Of course there isn’t a one-think per se. But in general there’s “think.”
And what I just heard from Jade is a lot of what I hear from black-think — and it’s really distressting and disturbing. And to put it in its context, she said the N-word, and I said, on HBO, listening to black comacs, you hear “nigger, nigger, nigger.” I didn’t call anybody a nigger. Nice try, Jade… Actually, sucky try.
Need a sense of humor. Sense of humor. And answer the question. When somebody says, “What do blacks think?” say, “This is what I think. This is what I read that if you take a poll the majority of blacks think this.” Answer the question and discuss the issue. It’s like we can’t discuss anything? Without saying there’s -isms?
We have to be able to discuss these things. We’re people! Goodness gracious me. Ah. Eh. Hypersensitivity. Okaaaay. Which is being bred by black activists. I really thought that once we had a black president, the attempt to demonize whites hating blacks would stop, but it seems to have… grown. And I don’t get it. Yes, I do. It’s all about power. I do get it. It’s all about power and that’s sad because what should be in power is not power, but righteousness to do good — that should be the greatest power.

Jennifer! Welcome to the program.

Jennifer: Hi, Dr. Laura. Somehow I knew I’d be next and I get you all riled up.

Dr. Laura: Ha ha ha! Not riled up. It takes more than that to rile me up these days. What can I do for you?

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