Why must we learn the same lesson over and over again? I thought radio talk show hosts had learned from the Don Imus affair. There are some things radio personalities should not broadcast over the airways. People are sensitive in the area of bruised nerves, and racial sensitivities are on edge as it is.
Don Imus’ blurt about “nappy-headed whores” set off a flurry of outrage and allegations of racism across the nation, forcing him briefly off the air. Where was talk show host and psychologist Dr. Laura Schlessinger at the time? Didn’t she know that racial epithets were taboo over the airways? Nevertheless, her racial tirade in repeatedly using the N-word to a call-in listener was an unwanted and unwelcome attempted to force acceptance of a loathed word we have all since rejected.
As in the case of Don Imus, Dr. Schlessinger claimed impunity because she heard black hip-hop artists use the N-word on the airways all the time. And after being rebuked, she plans to end her radio program and become a martyr for free speech.
Schlessinger can have her free speech, but she must realize that speech brings with it a consequence. That is to say, can she accept the consequences provoked by her chosen words, seeing that nobody forced her to say what she said?
The U.S. Supreme Court also recognizes a person’s free speech right to yell “fire” in a crowded theatre. But the Court also holds that person responsible for whatever harm caused if someone is trampled in a stampede to the exit.
But the real question is this: Does Schlessinger have the right to free speech, considering the that she is a professional psychologist, and her on-the-air responses to callers actually constitutes psychological advice?
The caller in this case was an African-American woman, grappling with an interracial marriage problem. Dr. Schlessinger’s response was like the drill sergeant therapist on the GEICO television commercial who calls his patient a “Jack-wagon” and suggests that maybe he ought to chug on down to “Namby Pamby Land” where we can find some self-confidence.
The commercial commentator asks: Does a former drilling sergeant make a terrible therapist? Maybe the same should be asked of Dr. Schlessinger who suggests to her on-air patient that if she is so “hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor” then she should not marry out of her race.”
What’s love got to do it?
When the caller attempts to explain or clarify, but Schlessinger rudely cuts her off and chides the woman not to “NAACP” her. [I wonder what NAACP means as a verb. I wonder where “out of your race” is. What race, if not the human race?]
I do not have a problem with Schlessinger’s freedom of speech. I have a problem with the psychology that she studied in school. We have always contended that psychology, as a pseudo-science, was never created with African-Americans in mind.
Also, we contend that racial categories are artificial, and identification by skin color is more a psychosis than a fact.
If Schlessinger wants to be a martyr, it would not be for free speech, but for a faulty psychology for which we are all enslaved. If she wants to be Joan of Arc, then go ahead and light her butt up.