I’ve been sitting “shiva” for the past four weeks after I issued my apology for using a word on this radio program that I should not have used.
I’ve let the hounds of fury misinterpret and misrepresent my apology, as well as my decision to end my syndicated radio program at the end of the year. I’ve been asked why didn’t I strike back? Frankly, with folks like Al Sharpton and Howard Stern and Wanda Sykes and organizations like Media Matters, the NAACP, and the Urban League (to name only a few) pelting me with insults, calling me a racist, saying “good riddance”…..it was hard to get a word in edgewise.
But after my vacation, I’m all refreshed, and now it’s time to start putting a little civility back into this debate and clear up a couple of misconceptions.
First: I am not leaving my radio program to be free to say the “N word.” A lot of folks out there have reported that that is my intent! That when I said I wanted my First Amendment rights back, it was for the right to say that word. Can you believe that? That’s wrong! You won’t hear that word out of my mouth.
Second: While I said something that offended some people, I took ownership of it. I apologized (as you folks who listen to me every day know) and accepted responsibility – something others who are now attacking me have not done in their own lives, or don’t do until their PR agency tells them “You better!” so they go into rehab and all is forgiven.
Just this past week, Wanda Sykes was on Larry King. Wanda Sykes (I call her an “offensive comedienne”) was the one who last year “joked” in front of President Obama that she hoped Rush Limbaugh’s kidneys would fail. I find that incredibly offensive – i.e., to wish someone sickness and death. She never apologized for that, and she was never asked to apologize for that. She referred to Rush Limbaugh as the “20th hijacker” – again, I find that offensive and she never apologized.
Well, on Larry King, Larry asked her to “weigh in” about me. I don’t know why Larry would do this, or why Wanda is an expert on me, but that’s TV. It’s all about ratings. So Larry asked Wanda about me, and this is what Wanda said (I’m quoting):
“I didn’t know that black people ever called her show or even listened to her show. Black people don’t listen to Dr. Laura. That’s a white people thing. That’s a white people thing.”
Personally, I find that an offensive comment, and perhaps even a racist one. It makes an assumption about a group of people, and that’s what racism is. More importantly, it’s an inaccurate comment. Contrary to Wanda’s uninformed opinion, I get calls and letters every day from people of all colors.
Now, I don’t see the Urban League, NAACP and Media Matters trying to shut down Wanda Sykes, who represents blacks badly, and I don’t see them demanding advertisers boycott her TV shows or asking stations and networks to punish her. But you do see those organizations mobilizing to shut me down, shut down Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Andrew Breitbart – shut us all down, because we say something that apparently offends them. No, it’s really about disagreeing with them.
I was very pleased to see this posting on the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications website. This was put there by UNC Professor of Journalism Leroy Towns, a professor and research fellow. On August 19 – two days after I appeared on Larry King – Professor Towns wrote this:
Here’s further evidence the right of free speech is being replaced by The Right Not to Be Offended.
Talk show host Laura Schlessinger used the N-word (that’s the media-inspired euphemism for the real word) several times in her radio show. She immediately came under attack from the ultra-liberal group Media Matters and from critics in the media. So she apologized and quit her radio show.
[Now even Professor Towns got the facts slightly wrong. I apologized. Then I was attacked, and then I announced I am leaving my radio show. Now back to Professor Towns.]
That wasn’t good enough for Media Matters, according to the Associated Press:
”Media Matters’ Ari Rabin-Havt said the apology wasn’t accepted because his group was concerned about Schlessinger’s overall attitudes toward race, more than just the N-word. And those attitudes weren’t addressed in the apology, he said.
There you have it. Got attitude? The thought police are coming for you. Posted by Leroy Towns.
“The right of free speech is being replaced by the right not to be offended.” That’s pretty serious stuff. And it doesn’t start with the government. It starts when small interest groups – groups that are supported and aided by political parties – decide they are the guardians of what is “politically correct.” That’s how it started in Germany. That’s how it started in Communist China. That’s how it is right now in Iran.
So when I speak about leaving syndicated radio at the end of the year to regain my ability to speak freely, it is so I can speak freely without worry of saying something that will offend or disagree with some group of people (disagreement is offensive to some groups of people) and then having the collateral damage of advertisers, agencies and radio stations being threatened and attacked for supporting me.
So, I will stand on my own, ready for the slings and arrows, because I’m committed to helping you folks do and be better in your lives.
I want to emphasize one more time that what I’ve been dealing with for the past 30 years in the public arena are activist groups and politically motivated individuals taking exception to my differing point of view, who reframe it as “she’s offensive.” Whether it’s my opinion on abortion, day care, “shack-ups,” intentionally having babies out-of-wedlock, time and again, people pretend to take offense at my opinion, but, in reality, merely want to shut down an opposing point of view.
And I promise you, I may be standing on my own, but I won’t be shut down.
When I went to college (I was an undergraduate at the State University of New York at Stony Brook), in addition to the police raids on the campus dorm pot smokers, and the demonstrations against the Vietnam war, there were actually serious academic classes which educated students in math, science, philosophy, literature, engineering, physics, business, and social sciences among other disciplines.
The expressed common goal was to graduate informed students who were competent to take on the next phase of their lives in some productive way, contributing to society, in addition to financially supporting their prospective families.
For the longest while, I fear, colleges and universities have minimized that lofty goal in exchange for ideological “brainwashing” and political correctness, threatening those who hold opinions different from the prevailing political persuasion of the faculty. I think that colleges and universities have become scary places for individuals of a more traditional bent.
Students at the University of Maryland recently attempted to join in with other so-called bastions of higher learning by playing a triple-x pornographic film for entertainment. The screening was set up by the school’s student union. The film got yanked when State Senator Andy Harris threatened to pull state funding from the school’s budget. Evidently, money talks.
Senator Harris said, “Students can’t light up a cigarette in the student union, but can watch a hardcore XXX porn film. Occasional viewing of porn is more dangerous than occasionally lighting up a cigarette. If the movie is being shown for educational reasons [yeah, right], someone should be presenting the dangers too. Porn breaks up lives.”
Of course, those who don’t remember their history (and how the Tower of London was the final stop for those who contradicted the British monarchy), and think that the US First Amendment is just about ANYTHING, complained that this, the most expensive porn movie ever made, was an issue of free speech. “Off with their heads,” I say. The production company actively has been seeking college campuses to screen the film since last summer, because they’re looking to breed future audiences for their debasing tripe.
The University of Maryland’s student union planned to have a representative from Planned Parenthood talk about safe sex. HAH! Planned Parenthood makes money by having girls and women kill the babies in their bodies as a form of “after-the-fact” birth control. I can see why they would want to be there to push their wares, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be explaining why they typically don’t call the police when an underage girl, who has been impregnated by an adult male, comes in for an abortion – bad for business, I guess.
Eventually, the university reversed its position and allowed the screening, as long as it contained an “educational component.” Four “experts” spoke on freedom of speech, and then screened the first 30 minutes of the 2 1/2 hour hard-core film.
The film has already been shown at UCLA, Northwestern University, Carnegie-Mellon, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Southern Connecticut State University.
Aren’t the alumni proud.TrackBack URI
A Connecticut state lawmaker is proposing legislation that would bar schools from punishing students for their electronic insults – even if they write them on class computers during school hours.
This idiocy is in response to the punishment meted out to Avery Doninger, a 17 year old high-schooler who was disciplined in 2007 for writing a blog from home using vulgar language to defame and insult school administrators.
School authorities barred her from running for office at Lewis B. Mills High School in Burlington as a “punishment.”
Her parents – of course– are suing!
I can’t believe I heard the whole thing.
On FoxNews.com, almost 100 people put in their two cents; the following was the most cogent of the bunch:
“‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’ As far as I can tell, Congress did not impede on her freedom of speech. The child needs to learn that while she is free to say whatever she feels, there are repercussions to the things we say.”
And there it is. You have the freedom so say whatever you’d like – without any consequences? I think not.
Colleges and employers have recourse to Internet records and can judge students by the electronic trail they’ve left behind, according to Tom Hutton, senior staff attorney for the NSBA (National School Board Association). Well, let that be a lesson to adolescents who feel bigger than their britches with this pending legislation!
The girl’s mother “wished her daughter ‘had used more sophisticated language.’” Instead of standing by the school punishment to teach her daughter the consequences of not thinking behavior through in advance of indelible actions, she’s making it a cause for free speech.
Oh please. It’s another one of those cases of parents defending their children right or wrong because they don’t want any criticism or don’t want to risk their children’s ire by punishing them for wrong- or stupid-doings.
Imagine if the teacher had put on a website that this girl was a “douche bag.” Would anyone defend the teacher or would he or she have to take sensitivity classes and then be fired anyway?
We are getting way too far in “The Lord of the Flies” for my tastes.TrackBack URI
Two year ago, a Danish journalist/cartoonist gave his political opinion with a newspaper cartoon that depicted a caricature of Muhammed, and there were death threats and rioting by those who described themselves as “offended.” The cartoonist was arrested on charges of discrimination against Muslims.
A Paris court also handed down a $23,325 fine against Brigitte Bardot, the former screen sex symbol and current animal rights campaigner. She was also ordered to pay $1,555 in damages to MRAP, a prominent French “anti-racist” group which filed a lawsuit over a letter she published in her animal rights foundation newsletter and which she also had sent to then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Evidently, she had criticized the Muslim feast of Aid-el-Kebir, which is celebrated by the slaughtering of sheep, and had expressed her concern that Muslim laws were beginning to dominate French culture and jurisprudence. French anti-racism laws prevent the incitement of hatred and discrimination on racial and/or religious grounds. Bardot had previously been convicted four times for “inciting racial hatred.” Her attorney said, “She is tired of this type of proceeding. She has the impression that people want to silence her.” No kidding.
English courts are now becoming a popular destination for libel suits against American authors. The cases have largely been brought against American writers and scholars for criticizing Islam or “naming names” of those who appear to support and fund terrorism. To avoid costly litigation, some American publishers are withdrawing the publication of those books. Unlike in American law, in Britain, the burden of proof in libel cases is on the author, since British law considers the disputed information as false until proven true.
Here in the United States, Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Joseph Lieberman (Ind/D-CT) have introduced the Free Speech Protection Act of 2008, which bars U.S. courts from enforcing libel judgments issued in foreign courts against U.S. residents, if the speech would not be libelous under American law. The bill also permits American authors and publishers to countersue if the material is protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This legislation wouldn’t protect those who recklessly or maliciously print false information, but it would ensure that Americans are held to and protected by American standards.
According to Specter and Lieberman as quoted in The Wall Street Journal (7/14/08):
“The 1964 Supreme Court decision in NY Times vs. Sullivan established that journalists must be free to report on newsworthy events unless they recklessly or maliciously publish falsehoods. At that time, opponents of civil rights were filing libel suits to silence news organizations that exposed state officials’ refusal to enforce federal civil rights laws. Now we are engaged in another great struggle – this time against Islamic terror – and again, the enemies of freedom seek to silence free speech. Our legislation will help ensure that they do not succeed.”
The anti-free speech forces have accomplished a lot in Europe and in our own universities (with their tyranny of the “politically correct”). This is the time to draw that line in the sand.TrackBack URI