Category Archives: Media

More Than A Hate Crime at Rutgers University

I am unbelievably furious!  I have a new book coming out in January, entitled “Surviving Shark Attacks on Land.”  It has to do with betrayal and revenge.  18 year old Tyler Clementi didn’t survive his recent shark attack on land.  He killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in New York.  He posted a goodbye on his Facebook page just eight minutes before he ended his life.

The media has made a fuss over this story because he was gay.  That is not the story. The story is that he was betrayed in the most disgusting and egregious way by his own roommate and the roommate’s girlfriend.  They sneaked a camera into the dorm room and secretly taped Tyler Clementi having sex.  They callously “shared” (as it’s lovingly called) this tape with the Internet universe on the roommate’s network of “friends” (as they’re lovingly called).

The roommate bragged about his spying in a Twitter post.

The piece of garbage known as his roommate and his piece of garbage of a girlfriend have been arrested for invasion of privacy.  They intentionally betrayed the friendship between roommates and intentionally humiliated this young man in public.  There ought to be (and there may be) a more serious charge.

For those of you old enough to remember the original movie “M*A*S*H,” an audio version of this humiliation was perpetrated on “Hotlips” Houlihan as a “joke.”  She was devastated, and the audience and actors laughed.  Mainstreaming cruelty.

One 16 year old junior at Rutgers (the same school) defended the perpetrators:  “I’m really shocked.”  About what? “I wouldn’t expect Molly to do something like that.  Dharan was very friendly, open and social.”  And here it comes:  “They’re not like that.  It was probably a practical joke gone wrong.”

Bull.  They are exactly like that.  They intended to humiliate Tyler.  They intended to have a laugh at his expense.  They intended to gain notoriety by having produced this film for all to see for their “entertainment.”  They intended  to be cruel.  They were sharks, attacking by betraying a friend on the Internet.

Could Tyler have survived this attack?  Was suicide his only out? 

The problem is that if he reported them to the school (whether or not they got in trouble for it), it’s on the Internet, seen and downloaded again and again and again for all eternity. 

I know something about this sort of betrayal.  Made up, as well as real, photos of me are on the Internet for all eternity also.  I know personally the feeling of wanting to die…vanish…evaporate.  The pain of that humiliation was extraordinary.  Why did I survive and Tyler not?  Tyler was just 18 years old and did not have decades of adult life experiences, accomplishments, a network of support or perhaps just pure grit.  When someone so vulnerable is betrayed (and the word is betrayed), then life seems totally hopeless.  When people you expect to have some kindness use you to further their fun-loving reputation by humiliating you for all time, and you’re only a teenager, you feel you will never be able to show your face or trust anybody again.  Everything is magnified, including pain, when you’re a teenager.

Tyler would have survived had he believed he could live through this humiliation and hold up his head again.  That he was gay is not the issue.  Had he been straight, we’d be having the same conversation.  This is not about sexual orientation.  This is about the awful inhumanity that is mainstreamed most horrendously via the Internet.

My heart goes out to this boy…I know what he felt, and I wish I had been there to tell him so.

The Thought Police Are Coming For You

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:

Make Sure Your Attitude is Politically Correct

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.

George Stephanopoulos Got It Wrong

I know there are some people listening right now who are tuning into my show for the first time because maybe you’ve heard some things about me in the past couple of weeks.  I’d like to correct some myths you might have heard.  First of all, I am not now… nor have I ever been… related to the vampires of Transylvania.  I only bite when asked.

If you watched Larry King last Tuesday, then you heard I’ll be ending my national radio show in December after 17 years.  Seventeen years.  Well, I never got the criticism I couldn’t hold down a job.
 
Oh, I’m sorry. Actually, I’m wrong.  Because last Wednesday – the morning after I was on Larry King… George Stephanopoulos… does everyone know who he is?  He used to work for the government?  George Stephanopoulos?  Well, he now has a full-time job on “Good Morning America.”  And last Wednesday he had this to say about me leaving radio.  Benjamin….roll tape.

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

I’m sorry, could you say that again, George?

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

I’d like to make it clear for the record and for those of you who are …. Confused.  I own my own company.  I own me. The only person who can fire me… is me.  And I didn’t fire me….  (pause)

I just gave myself 4 months notice.

Honestly, I didn’t hear about George’s little SNAFU until this morning.  But my staff heard about his gaffe last week.  So they called ABC and - the network George is on… they called ABC and asked “Did we hear that right?”  And “Would you mind issuing a correction?”
 
And the producer at ABC was very nice.  She seemed to understand George had made an error… a factual mistake on a news show… and she would see what George and ABC would do about it.  So here it is, a  whole week later.  Can I tell you what they’ve done about it? 

SFX:  (Sound of crickets)

Nothing!!

Let me get this straight.  You make a factual mistake.  You know it’s a factual mistake.  You are asked to correct your factual mistake…  And a week later…

SFX:  (Sound of crickets)
 
Hmmmmm…
 
My guess is they think nobody heard it, so therefore… it doesn’t matter.
 
You know… if a tree falls in the woods and no-one’s around?  If a newscaster makes a mistake and he has no ratings???

Well, you know I am a believer in free speech and debate.  I just prefer to pontificate myself, but that’s just me. So I figured I would let a larger audience hear George’s opinion and play it on my show today.  Could you play George again, please? 

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

One more time – George’s opinion as to why I am leaving radio…

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

Now that’s George’s opinion.  I was going to be fired.  My opinion is I was NOT about to fire myself…  It would hurt my feelings.
 
Now, we’re going to play a little game here.  If you think ABC and George Stephanopoulos should be accountable and correct their factual error, I want you to let them know since they’re a news show.  Go to my website:  www.drlaura.com.  You’ll see a link to a page where you can send George and Good Morning America an email telling them… George Got it Wrong about Dr. Laura.  Dr. Laura did not fire herself…

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

Okay.  I am having a little fun here.  But I do have a serious point to make.  And that is news sources are supposed to be coming forward about facts and not someone’s OPINION, AGENDA, GUESS, OR WISHFUL THINKING.  The reason most of you (and enough polls have shown this) don’t trust news reporting much is because you’ve realized much of what passes for NEWS these days is IN FACT opinion, agenda, guesses, wishful thinking,  or in this case… just wrong.

Pop Culture’s Negative Influence on Our Kids

This is one of those times when one of your emails says it all.  The following email puts every parent on notice with respect to the proper protection of their children from influences which hurt their souls: 

“Hi Dr. Laura!  I type reports for some youth programs and typed a report a few weeks ago that has been on my mind. This report said that this particular teenager had been using very offensive swear words since the age of 5 when this person saw an R-rated movie. My first question was “What is a 5-year-old doing watching an R-rated movie?” Where is the parent? Another report indicated that one teenager had started inhaling cocaine after seeing it done in a movie. I see kids being influenced by the media all over.

As a teenager many years ago, I was taught that our minds are like a camera – i.e., taking a picture that you can’t get out–so be careful about what you put in it. Many people are concerned about the effects of violent video games and truly believe that these games will affect kids, but why don’t they use the same standard about movies that have sex (especially explicit sex) and vulgar language in them? That sticks every bit as much as violence. Once something has entered your mind, it is changed.

Today, I read in a local paper about a study that was done regarding teens and media (television and movies) containing sexual content. The teens who watched media with sexual content were more likely to engage in such behaviors than those who did not.

We would never invite a stranger into our home without knowing their purpose. Yet, every day we invite strangers into our homes when we turn on television or put a movie on. We think we know these people–they’re on the front cover of every magazine at the checkout. These people often, don’t have our best interests at heart or the best interests of our kids at heart. They are there to make money, and generally, that is their only purpose. I’m amazed at some of the talk show hosts and authors that have shared their infidelities, whether on TV or in books, like it is a badge of honor. They will certainly take credit for lending their influence in the [recent] presidential campaigns, but they certainly would not take credit for their influence in the lives of today’s teens in the terms of drugs and sex.

We have choices! We as parents need to be more judicious as to what we will allow in our homes and what we will allow our kids to be exposed to within our realm. We need to love our kids and ourselves enough to turn “that program” off and spend our time with our kids or developing ourselves. Our kids are influenced by a lot of other people away from the home, but when they return to the home, we do have the influence to reinforce the difference between good and bad, right and wrong.

 Thank you so much for all that you do to fight the negative effects on the family!”

When you’re so busy, busy, or have long given up on taking the leadership role in raising your children, or you’re way too easily dissuaded by popular culture from having moral standards and values by which you wish to raise your family, your children become prey and the predators are many.  Like vampires, they wait to suck the blood out of your children’s souls and psyches, leaving them to the forces of their immaturity and the allure of their impulses.

Your children need you to take stands…their futures depend on it!

Kids and Media Exposure to Sex

A listener labeled his email to me:
 
“The Newest Movie “Trash” Banned in Utah! Go Utah!” 
I read recently that some parts of Utah had banned the release of the new film “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”. The film is about a guy and girl who have nothing better in their dull lives to do but to produce a pornographic film together just for the fun of it. I, for one, am sick and tired of films that exploit women AND men!!! Whatever happened to going to the cinema and watching a good movie?

Thank God that Utah, a state that won’t forfeit its values and morals, stands up to films such as these, and won’t let them play in theaters there. I am a high school teacher, and believe me, Dr. Laura, our kids are craving to be taught values and morals. They want direction. They need direction. Films like these are teaching them that sex is just something that can be played with. I teach a student who has been sexually abused by his own stepfather, and I’m trying to guide him and show him a bit of comfort that he has never received….It breaks my heart to know what he has suffered, and it also breaks my heart to see students being exposed to trashy sex and stupid behavior on film. This kind of sick mess makes our jobs much more difficult in the teaching arena…. it’s time that we did something about this trash that’s being shown to our children. “

This email coincided with a US News and World Report study that sounds like “yes/no yes/no” silliness. The new research suggests that teens who spend the most time watching sexually charged television shows are twice as likely to become pregnant or impregnate someone else.

No kidding.  My generation grew up on The Flying Nun and Leave it to Beaver.  I never knew anyone who knew anyone who got pregnant in high-school. 

Here’s where the back-and-forth nonsense begins.  First, the report says that these findings don’t prove that sexy programming causes pregnancy – well, of course it doesn’t “cause” pregnancy.  But it is clear that a permissive media has a huge influence on impressionable teens, opening them up to behaviors which are not in their best interests, emotionally or medically. 

Interestingly, the researchers refused to “name names” with respect to which television shows they considered “sexually charged.”  I guess they don’t want to be open to lawsuits for suggesting that there are specific programs on the air that hurt children by opening them up to behaviors which could lead to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, or the psychological trauma of sexual abuse.

Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington who studies kids and television says that these findings “add to the growing body of evidence that what children see on screen affects their behavior in real life.”  I’ve always gotten a laugh from much of what psychological research – a soft science at best – finds.  They state the obvious like it was a revelation and they get grant money to do it. 

Let’s see, if we didn’t think that media impacted how people behave in real life, how long would the advertising business last?  Oh please, they pay millions for product placement movies…to influence you,   They pay millions for seconds of promotion on SuperBowl Sunday…to influence you.  It must work.  So to be “surprised” at the impact of images and behavior the media immerses our children in has got to be some kind of joke.

Back to the beginning… hooray for Utah.  Parents who want to expose their children to “trash” can always buy it on the Internet.