To those of you who are listening right now, I appreciate it. Thank you for tuning in to my show.
Now, last Tuesday I used a word that I had never used before on air. I pulled myself off at the end of the hour. With one hour to go, we played a tape. Truthfully, I was so upset with myself; I was shaking.
That same night I wrote my apology (about 8 o’clock at night). That same evening I gave Don Barrett, who is the publisher of LARadio.com, a statement which he published at 7am the next morning. I got my people up early and put the apology on my blog at 8am. We sent a letter — sort of – it was an email) to 200,000 members of my online family to let them know that, at noon, that day, I would be issuing an apology. I would fully apologize for saying that word at the top of my show on Wednesday. And if you haven’t heard it and would like to hear it, you can, still, because we posted it at www.drlaura.com.
I have no trouble apologizing when I’m wrong and I never apologize for effect. I apologize ONLY when it is really coming from my heart. In over 30 years in radio this was the first such circumstance and I made the promise that it will never happen again.
Well today it’s one day short of a week since I said the word. And I thought, today, I would talk to you about what has happened… and what I have learned.
Now, the day I said the word… I received a variety of emails from listeners. There were many that expressed disappointment. Several said that they felt they would have trouble listening to me again. To each one of those emails, I responded with a personal apology. I even read one of those letters during the on-air apology.
And then, after I apologized, I received more letters. Many asked me why I needed to apologize. A few said they were still upset at what I had done. But most of the letters I received, while expressing dismay with what I did in the first place, were appreciative and gracious, accepting my apology.
I want to make it clear to you that my apology on Wednesday morning didn’t have any conditions… it didn’t have any hesitation… and I think it’s important for everybody to be clear about the sincerity of that apology. It was made while there were absolutely no demands for me to apologize. Nobody had demanded that I apologize. It came from my heart because I knew I had done the wrong thing.
Now, despite all my efforts and sincere desire to express my remorse fully and publicly, it was not until Thursday evening that the news media started getting on the story. Since then I have received support from many of you thanking me for the apology and encouraging me to soldier on.
However, as the media have rebroadcast my error again and again and again and again, compounding the damage which I shouldn’t have done… and never intended to do in the first place… the effect has been that my words have offended many, many, many, many more people and there are many who are saying they will not accept my apology.
Now, every time I take a call from one of you and you are upset with yourself that you’ve done something wrong and you want to make amends, I tell you you have to follow the four “R”‘s -
Take Responsibility for your mistake. Make an immediate apology.
Show true Remorse. Don’t try to explain away your action or defend it.
Repair what is in your power to Repair.
Make a commitment to never Repeat.
Those are my four R’s. I’ve been teaching you guys that for over 30 years that I’ve been on radio.
But there are things out of my control. There will be people out there who will not accept my apology. And, just like I tell you folks, we can’t control that. I can’t control that. I hope they will listen to what I have to say, and watch what I do. But the only thing that is in my control is what I say and do.
Now, what makes me sad…what pains my heart deeply…is that, beyond the reasoned letters which I continue to get, I have heard comments from some broadcasters and letters from some people that cannot be described as anything other than hate-filled diatribes. Hate-filled. This does not make me angry, but it hurts my heart.
My hope with my apology, which was true and immediate and uncoerced, was that the silver lining might be that a dialogue be started to stop hate and bigotry. I still hold out some hope… but I am a realist and I fear that there are those who frankly want to encourage hate and anger.
Now, when I first started out in radio, people would disagree…they DISAGREED…they didn’t HATE. They didn’t try to censor, they didn’t try to destroy an opposing point of view. Instead…they just argued and debated, and argued and disagreed, and debated and argued. But our society has changed dramatically. Self-appointed activist types breed hate, breed anger, breed destruction should anyone hold up a mirror or dare to disagree. This environment, as you know, is not only in radio and television…it is in politics; it’s in every area of our society…in your neighborhoods, in your school districts, at work…
But for those of you who don’t accept my apology, I’d like to say… that’s your choice. But I hope, in time, through what I say and what I don’t say… through what I do and what I don’t do… you’ll change your mind.
For those of you who accept my apology: Thank you. And I hope I will continue to earn your good will and grace.
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
I don’t know how many of you know, but a little over a week ago, in New York City, a guy and a few of his friends, were on the subway – the Q train – and there were groups of people on the train, and four people come on, all Jewish. Somebody screams out “Merry Christmas,” and in good feeling, they yelled back “And a Happy Hanukkah.”
Almost instantly, at least ten guys closed in on them. One of the guys immediately hiked up his sleeve to show a tattoo of Christ, and said “Happy Hanukkah? That’s when the Jews killed Jesus.” The group then increased to fourteen, men and women, who began taunting the four Jews, and called them “dirty Jews,” and “Jew bitches.” And a fight ensued. Continue reading Muslim Helps Jews During Subway Attack…TrackBack URI
It is understandable that I have received a lot of inquiries about my reaction to Don Imus’ problem, as I am also a radio talk show host (32 years) who has taken flack for “objections” to my point of view.
The main problem with Imus’ comments is that they were in no way taken out of context – they were a direct assault on a group of women for whom the words did not match the reality. In fact, as a woman, and as a woman often under public attack, I am so very proud of the statement given by one of the Rutgers University basketball players: Continue reading Don Imus’ Verbal Assault… But What About The Others?…TrackBack URI