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.