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Douchebag Decree: Dr. Laura thinks you're being "hypersensitive"

In more than three decades as an author, radio host, and moral proselytizer, Laura Schlessinger has been called out more than once. In 1998, the woman who lambasted the irrationality of her fellow vagina-Americans in the bestselling book Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives was confronted with her own moral lapses when nude photos of her—taken by the radio host Bill Ballance, with whom she had an extramarital affair—surfaced and were gleefully passed around the web. In 2000, as Schlessinger prepared to launch a televised talk show, gay activists who took exception to her view that homosexuality is "a biological error" that should preclude gay couples from adopting children launched the watchdog site StopDrLaura.com. (The talk show tanked fairly quickly, after more than 170 of its advertisers pulled out in response to StopDrLaura's efforts.) In 2009, numerous news and opinions outlets pointed out that her new book, In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms, was an example of blatant hypocrisy, given that she herself had never been a stay-at-home mother.

 a photo of Dr. Laura SchlessingerI swear, I'm a total douchebag" height="386" width="500"> 

I swear that I am a serious douchebag!

 

And, most recently, the blogosphere goggled at reports of Schlessinger responding to an on-air caller with a stream of both racist epithets and bigoted, tone-deaf arrogance. A short transcript, courtesy of Media Matters:

 CALLER: 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. We've been around some of his friends and family members who 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 he acts like --

SCHLESSINGER: 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.

CALLER: 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, "Oh, 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 --

SCHLESSINGER: I don't think that's racist.

CALLER: Well, the stereotype --

SCHLESSINGER: I don't think that's racist. No, I think that --

CALLER: [unintelligible]

SCHLESSINGER: 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 was funny.

CALLER: How about the N-word? So, the N-word's been thrown around --

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

CALLER: That isn't --

SCHLESSINGER: 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.

Then she said the N-word a bunch more times and told the caller, "Don't double-N...NAACP me." Classy! Naturally, this caused some problems. Tuesday night, Schlessinger—who, though she calls herself a "licensed psychotherapist," is in fact a PhD in physiology who has a certificate in marriage, family, and child counseling—announced on Larry King Live that she's just plumb tired of being persecuted by all those tsk-tsking pantywaists who just can't see past her racist language to understand that she! Dr. Laura! is the real victim here, and went on to say that since her contract is up, she will be leaving douchecasting to in order to "regain" [her] First Amendment rights." That's right, she wants to be free to be as much of an asshole as she wants without having to be held accountable by networks, audience members, and activists. Damn the man!

While pulling an Actor's Workshop assortment of sad faces, she complained to King that "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." When Ol' Shoulder Blades helpfully pointed out that Schlessinger's detractors were just as entitled as she to air their opinions, she ignored him and continued, "I don't have the right to say what I need to say. My First Amendment rights have been usurped by angry, hateful groups who don't want to debate, they want to eliminate."

Schlessinger, like so many of her conservative compatriots, has a tenuous grasp on what the First Amendment actually promises (hint: it doesn't promise that radio hosts can say whatever offensive bullshit they want and people need to be cool with it), and, like Don Imus before her, also doesn't seem to realize that just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. But that's almost beside the point. The issue isn't only that Schlessinger used the n-word repeatedly on a radio show. It's also that her overall approach  to the caller—what she apparently "needed to say"—was bigoted to begin with. She assumed from the jump that the caller couldn't be experiencing actual racism, but was filtering perfectly harmless small talk through a spiky filter of what she later termed, on King's show, "hypersensitivity," and then derailed the conversation with a now-classic dodge, that of complaining that it just isn't fair that black people can use offensive epithets that white people can't. And the even bigger issue is that Schlessinger has a history of making with this kind of naked bigotry, and subsequently complaining when she gets busted for it that her truth is simply being muzzled by the powerful PC police. (The Huffington Post has her greatest hits handy here.)

I like to think that Bitch has been proactive in calling out Schlessinger's douchebaggery. After all, back in 1997 we ran an article called "Why I Hate Dr. Laura," in which writer Jill Dyche set out a compelling (and, in retrospect, admirably restrained) argument that touched on Schlessinger's disdain for women ("She implicitly chastises her largely female audience to shut up, stay home, procreate, and listen to the radio. Anyone who doesn't is fair game for her traditionalist hunt") and blatant hypocrisy ("She raves against women leveraging the very power that she herself has used to get ahead"). But though Dr. Laura's official Douchebag Decree is long overdue, we're just thrilled that it could coincide with her leaving the airwaves forever. And when she writes the newest update to Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, she might consider adding a chapter on "Being a sexist, racist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot."

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Comments

16 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Ye Olde Douchebag Decree

Suggested edit:

... and when she writes the newest update to Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, she might consider adding a chapter on "Being a sexist, racist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot."

A.K.A 'DOCTOR' LAURA.

Amen!

I hope we never have to hear her voice again!

Suffice it to say ...

That this "Douchebag Decree" is long overdue and that although I, too, hope we never hear her voice again, she will probably continue writing dreadful tomes (as in books) giving questionable advice and eventually turn up on FOX News with those other like-minds of hers. *SIGH* ...

And still she wont "woman

And still she wont "woman up" to her own ignorance and insensitivity and instead blames Media Matters and those who call her out.

Happy Trails "Dr" Laura.

Apparently, Dr. Laura's oft

Apparently, Dr. Laura's oft repeated advice, "Go do the right thing." is applicable to everyone but her.

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"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Vonnegut.

Did she handle it well?

Did she handle it well? Obviously not. But I think that, underneath her poorly phrased arguments, Dr. Laura had a valid point. Why IS there this double standard that allows blacks to refer to one another by the n-word, but as soon as someone white uses it, it's racist?

Why does black entertainment consist most notably of low-brow comedy and music that promotes violence, crime, and the subjugation of women?

Why is it that, despite the mistreatment by whites of other minority groups (Native Americans since white settlement began, for example, as well as the internment camps for Japanese-Americans in WWII, not to mention sever other I can't recall), blacks are the only ones screaming for reparations?

Why is it that blacks seem to remain in predominantly black neighborhoods on their own volition, but when schools are zoned and those predominantly black neighborhoods feed into a school that becomes predominantly black as a result, it's segregation?

I'm certainly not trying to say that blacks and whites are equal yet. Men and women aren't equal yet and that movement started decades before the civil rights movement. The difference is that women took what opportunities they could and pushed for improvement for themselves. The way to achieve racial equality is not to wait around and pull the racism card at the first sign of difficulty. It's to conduct oneself in a manner that merits respect and effect improvement. The civil rights leaders of half a century ago would be aghast if they could see what their efforts have resulted in today.

The way in which Dr. Laura handled this caller was deplorable, but you can't say that she wasn't onto something there. That's all I'm saying.

'Why IS there this double

'Why IS there this double standard that allows blacks to refer to one another by the n-word, but as soon as someone white uses it, it's racist?'

This is a common question. It's interesting that white people don't want to know 'why do black people call each other the n-word?' (a more reasonable question). It's always, 'why is it that black people CAN call each other the n-word, but white people (ie. me) CAN'T?' Which is code for 'I REALLY REALLY want to call black people the n-word but it's socially unacceptable and that frustrates me.'

I think the real question is, why do so many white people have a desire to call black people the n word?

'Why does black entertainment consist most notably of low-brow comedy and music that promotes violence, crime, and the subjugation of women?'

I think 'most notably' is the key term here. It is regularly noted by white people that 'black entertainment' is associated with these things. Firstly, making an association between black people and crime keeps the prison system running smoothly. Putting black people in jail has been a US tradition ever since slavery was abolished and white people needed another way to keep black people controlled. As long as white people point out to each other how black entertainment promotes crime, they keep making the association between black people and crime and come jury duty time, guess who goes to prison.

Black people have long been associated with violence. The apparently intrinsic violent nature of black people has been used as a justification for everything from slavery to young offender's institutions. And then when it comes to entertainment, guess what it is that white people (the biggest buyers of ganster rap) want to see? Do they want to see complex music and comedy or do they want to see the violent stereotype of black people that they have always seen and enjoyed?

I have heard so many white people talk about black entertainment (especially music and comedy) and the subjugation of women. You know what I don't hear the same white people talking about? Bob Dylan's misogyny. Bill Hick's misogyny. The Beastie Boys and how their lyrics promote pressuring young women into sex. have I made my point?

As for 'low brow', black people are on average poorer than white people. Less money to go to university, buy books, go to Paris, eat lobster, do all the things that high brow people do.

'Why is it that, despite the mistreatment by whites of other minority groups (Native Americans since white settlement began, for example, as well as the internment camps for Japanese-Americans in WWII, not to mention sever other I can't recall), blacks are the only ones screaming for reparations?'
After slavery (you know about slavery, right?), we were promised thirty acres and a mule. Kind of by way of compensation. It's never happened. Funnily enough, we're not over it. I've seen white people get angry at waiters for not bringing the correct dish that they were ordered (or promised). It's kind of similar, except that we're talking about over three hundred years of violent oppression rather than forgetting the mozarella balls. You'd be angry too.

'Why is it that blacks seem to remain in predominantly black neighborhoods on their own volition,'
How d'you figure this one out?

'The way to achieve racial equality is not to wait around and pull the racism card at the first sign of difficulty. It's to conduct oneself in a manner that merits respect and effect improvement'

Um wait, so the thing stopping black people from gaining racial equality is our behaviour? We're not conducting ourselves right (or should I say white?)?

How about the thing stopping racial equality is RACISM?

great reply!

--I think the real question is, why do so many white people have a desire to call black people the n word?--

I am going to use this from now on. It's so obvious and yet, why did I not think of this? Thanks for your thougthful reply and for helping me in my own travels.

why

Any word that is forbidden, people want to say it more.

Oh sure. Straight up

Oh sure. Straight up situation of forbidden fruit going on here. Not a hint of racism. Not even a hint. Thank god, because that would be awkward.

No racism here

'Any word that is forbidden, people want to say it more.'

Oh okay, so white people wanting to call black folks n***** has nothing to do with them being racist? So every time I get upset about it I should just remind myself that it's simple reverse psychology and nothing more? If my kids get called it at school I should just tell them to stop crying and teach them some pop psychology?

It's weird though, isn't it, how when calling black people n***** was more socially acceptable, back in the day, there wasn't any shortage of it, was there? I mean it's not like the word has only gained popularity since the Civil Rights movement, is it? As far as I can work out, white people have been saying it for a pretty long time. Forbidden or not forbidden, they just can't stop saying it, or saying how they want to say it, or saying how it's unfair that black folks get to say it but they don't get to say it, or saying that seeing as how black folks say it they're going to say it too because that's only fair.

That doesn't sound like reverse psychology to me. I think this has to do with a little thing beginning with R, ending in M with ACIS in the middle. Say it with me now. R-A-C-I-S-M.

I agree it has nothing to do

I agree it has nothing to do with not being able to say the word, even though it is always framed in that way when white people go on a rant about how they cannot say n*gger without offending someone. White people ALWAYS frame this discussion in a way that makes them look like a douche and tries to make them look like the "victim." They always say, "black people can use the word so I should be able to as well. It is only fair." They never think of why they would want to use the word. Is there any reason for a white person to use "n*gger"? None that I can think of. I have never heard a white person use "n*gger" without using it in a racist way.

We didn't ask you.

I'm certainly not trying to say that blacks and whites are equal yet. Men and women aren't equal yet and that movement started decades before the civil rights movement. The difference is that women took what opportunities they could and pushed for improvement for themselves. The way to achieve racial equality is not to wait around and pull the racism card at the first sign of difficulty. It's to conduct oneself in a manner that merits respect and effect improvement. The civil rights leaders of half a century ago would be aghast if they could see what their efforts have resulted in today.

Thanks for telling black folks how to uplift themselves. Of course, since nobody asked you, I'm not sure what was the point of this entire comment. More importantly, the issue is not why black people can't do whatever it is you erroneously believe they can't do, but rather, why Dr. Laura believes it's her right to use the "n-word" when describing black folks. The flaw in much of your argument (besides the fantagical privilege fail and victim blaming) is the notion that oppressed folks should bear the burden of ensuring that privilege folks act right. That ain't our job.

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"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Vonnegut.

more unpaid work for black people

Oh my god so true, that is totally not our job.

Racism Is Endemic

Dr. Laura and many other right wing ideologues thrive on and play what they know is a racist base. Racism is endemic in this country. The vestiges and aftermath of the centuries of overt slavery, and then segregation, and laws against sedition (inter-racial marriage) being the norm still exist. The none too subtle substitutes that have followed it have been voter disenfranchisement and slave labor utilizing the penal system and maintenance of white power via shills like Dr. Laura.

There is a big difference between the use of the word nigger when Huey Newton of the Black Panther Party said: "Die nigger, die - so the black man can live." and Dr. Laura's usage. Back then he was using the word nigger to describe those who would bow to their master's (white establishment's) will. That is not the kind of usage of the word "Dr. Laura" and her ilk employ. They employ the word nigger in a racist hateful way.

As Dr. Laura's N-Word rant was reported (transcript) and had on tape by Media Matters , one of the more blatantly racist comments was: "If you're that sensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry out of your race."

Perhaps many people actually believe they aren't racist but don't like the idea of black people in their neighborhood or marrying white people. They are also, obviously, insensitive to the scars left by brutal treatment of black people and their having been treated as property. i think many white people were relieved when they found out the future First Lady was black, because inter-racial marriage is still a very politically unpopular institution - especially in the South.

i agree. Dr. Laura is a douchebag. She is also a hater who tries hard (and not always successfully) to cloak her hate with rationalizations.

Just noticed

Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives

One would assume Dr. Laura's included in the blanket "women," right? Why is it not "our?" I guess it's not news that she sees women as an entity of stupidity from which she is exempt, but it's interesting how blatant that title makes it.