Dr. Laura Schlessinger's racial rant latest in history of incendiary remarks

››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN

Dr. Laura Schlessinger has apologized after launching into a racially charged rant, during which Schlessinger, in her own words, "articulated the 'n' word all the way out -- more than one time." Schlessinger's rant followed her attacks on homosexuality as "deviant" and "dysfunctional behavior," for which she also apologized.

Schlessinger used racial slur on air 11 times, said caller should not "marry out of your race" if you don't "have a sense of humor"

Schlessinger: "A lot of blacks voted for Obama" due to race. On the August 10 edition of her radio show, Schlessinger took a call from an African American woman who wanted advice on how to deal with the resentment she felt when her white husband didn't speak out about racist comments his friends made. Schlessinger responded:

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 gonna 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.

Schlessinger uses racial slur 11 times, says "if anybody without enough melanin says it it's a horrible thing, but if black people say it, it's affectionate." Schlessinger and the caller then had the following exchange:

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.

After taking a commercial break, Schlessinger said the caller had a "chip on your shoulder" and "too much sensitivity and not enough sense of humor." She and the caller then had the following exchange:

CALLER: So it's OK to say "nigger"?

SCHLESSINGER: -- and not enough sense of humor.

CALLER: It's OK to say that word?

SCHLESSINGER: It depends how it's said.

CALLER: Is it OK to say that word? Is it ever OK to say that word?

SCHLESSINGER: It's -- it depends how it's said. Black guys talking to each other seem to think it's OK.

CALLER: But you're not black. They're not black. My husband is white.

SCHLESSINGER: Oh, I see. So, a word is restricted to race. Got it. Can't do much about that.

CALLER: I can't believe someone like you is on the radio spewing out the "nigger" word, and I hope everybody heard it.

SCHLESSINGER: I didn't spew out the "nigger" word.

CALLER: You said, "Nigger, nigger, nigger."

SCHLESSINGER: Right, I said that's what you hear.

CALLER: Everybody heard it.

SCHLESSINGER: Yes, they did.

CALLER: I hope everybody heard it.

SCHLESSINGER: They did, and I'll say it again --

CALLER: So what makes it OK for you to say the word?

SCHLESSINGER: -- nigger, nigger, nigger is what you hear on HB --

CALLER: So what makes it --

SCHLESSINGER: Why don't you let me finish a sentence?

CALLER: OK.

SCHLESSINGER: Don't take things out of context. Don't double N -- NAACP me. Tape the --

CALLER: I know what the NAACP --

SCHLESSINGER: Leave them in context.

After ending the call, Schlesinger said:

And what I just heard from Jade is a lot of what I hear from black-think -- and it's really distressting [sic] and disturbing. And to put it in its context, she said the N-word, and I said, on HBO, listening to black comics, you hear "nigger, nigger, nigger." I didn't call anybody a nigger. Nice try, Jade. Actually, sucky try.

Schlessinger: Caller shouldn't "marry out of your race" if you "don't have a sense of humor." Schlessinger also stated:

Can't have this argument. You know what? If you're that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry out of your race. If you're going to marry out of your race, people are going to say, "OK, what do blacks think? What do whites think? What do Jews think? What do Catholics think?" Of course there isn't a one-think per se. But in general there's "think."

She later added that "hypersensitivity" is "being bred by black activists."

Schlessinger subsequently apologized for having "articulated the 'n' word all the way out." On August 11, Schlessinger posted to her blog the "opening comments from my radio program today":

I talk every day about doing the right thing. And yesterday, I did the wrong thing.

I didn't intend to hurt people, but I did. And that makes it the wrong thing to have done.

I was attempting to make a philosophical point, and I articulated the "n" word all the way out - more than one time. And that was wrong. I'll say it again - that was wrong.

I ended up, I'm sure, with many of you losing the point I was trying to make, because you were shocked by the fact that I said the word. I, myself, realized I had made a horrible mistake, and was so upset I could not finish the show. I pulled myself off the air at the end of the hour. I had to finish the hour, because 20 minutes of dead air doesn't work. I am very sorry. And it just won't happen again.

Schlessinger has had to apologize in the past for incendiary remarks about gay men and lesbians

Schlessinger: "If you're gay or a lesbian, it's a biological error that inhibits you from relating normally to the opposite sex." According to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC), Schlessinger's Operations Manager responded to a complainant in part by saying that Schlessinger had written the following on her website:

"I'm sorry, hear it one more time [to make it] perfectly clearly: If you're gay or a lesbian, it's a biological error that inhibits you from relating normally to the opposite sex. The fact that you are intelligent, creative and valuable is all true. The error is your inability to relate sexually intimately, in a loving way to a member of the opposite sex - it is a biological error.

People who are gay or lesbian are not to be hated or attacked. I spent most of my career supporting groups like Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays because I didn't want families to throw out their children simply because they were gay or lesbian - they are still decent and functional human beings or maybe they're not because that indecency goes everywhere. A bunch of guys having sex after leaving bar with each other [is] indecent. Likewise a bunch of heterosexuals leaving bars with each other and having sex with each other is indecent. I don't care which way it flies".

Schlessinger: Homosexuality is a "deviant behavior, a dysfunctional behavior." On the August 13, 1999, edition of her radio show, Schlessinger reportedly stated:

One of the first things you do is rename behaviours or what have you. Once you rename it... It's like in Vietnam, I remember quite clearly. Instead of calling them North Vietnamese, South Vietnamese, Communist or what have you, they started calling the Vietnamese agents gooks. One of the reasons you call them gooks is because it's easy to kill a gook, harder to kill a person. So in changing the name of the thing, it changes how we perceive it and how we can behave toward it. When we have the word homosexual, we are clarifying the dysfunction, the deviancy, the reality.

[...]

Please, this is not about civil rights 'cause I would be the first one in the front of that line and I'm here to tell you that right now. I'd be the first one in the front of that line. But this is about taking a deviant behaviour, a dysfunctional behaviour, normalizing, sexualizing our kids.

Schlessinger: "When a man cannot make love to a woman, how can that be normal?" The CBSC quoted Schlessinger on the April 12, 1999, edition of her radio show responding to an article in the American Psychological Association's journal that was "critical of Schlessinger's views on the relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia":

[U]nfortunately, what the APA says people take as actual science or it's a final word, like "homosexuality is now normal." How can that be? When a man cannot make love to a woman, how can that be normal? But since they dropped it out of the book of diagnostics, the general public has been made to accept that it is normal, but how can that be? Just use common sense. We're not talking about the entire person. We're only talking about the sexual orientation. ... Paedophilia, sexual sadism and such are no longer disorders, according to the APA. They're only disorders if the person who is sexually masochistic or sadistic is upset about it or it's ruining their [sic] work. You understand and that's exactly how homosexuality got normalized [sic] so to me it's the first step. ... Then it [the article] goes on to say "The bridge Mrs. Schlessinger builds between this study and the so-called attempt to normalize paedophilia is ridiculous."

Schlessinger: It "is not true" that "paedophilia and child molestation have zero to do with being gay." The CBSC also quoted Schlessinger on the August 13, 1999, edition of her radio show reading a fax that stated "Paedophilia and child molestation have zero to do with being gay, homosexual orientation," and then responding "that's not true. That is not true. How many letters have I read on the air from gay men who acknowledge that a huge portion of the male homosexual populus is predatory on young boys. There is nothing new here." In fact, a 1995 study released by the American Psychological Association found that "gay men are no more likely than heterosexual men to perpetrate child sexual abuse."

Schlessinger: "[T]o intentionally make or get a child and raise them ... with no husband and wife, no father is a travesty and it ought to be illegal." According to the CBSC, on the June 22, 1999, edition of her radio show, Schlessinger stated:

That is the basic, central point. Whether it be two lesbians, a single heterosexual woman, to intentionally make or get a child and raise them in a situation, to obligate them destructively to a family situation with no husband and wife, no father is a travesty and it ought to be illegal.

[...]

You have a moral obligation to save this potential child so it will be directed towards a heterosexual family where it is the most ideal situation for the psychological development of a human being. This is, as I said, a travesty, a moral travesty filling in for the power of the particular ideology that doesn't give a damn about the kids, only about what we adults want. That's typical. That's not, that's not a gay agenda thing, that's more an adult agenda thing but particularly speaking there is a powerful, gay, ideological activist power group that makes it an issue of discrimination against them when in reality, it is a destructive reality for children.

Schlessinger: The "homosexual activist movement has become the McCarthyism of the 21st century."In her May 19, 2000, syndicated column, Schlessinger wrote:

The well-funded and well-connected homosexual activist movement has become the McCarthyism of the 21st century. Opposition to any of its goals is tantamount to being a "fellow traveler," which is what people were called in the 1950s who were merely accused (often erroneously) of being communist sympathizers. The topic is not open to debate. Accusers become judge and jury, and the mainstream media are only too happy to carry out the sentence.

Amid a firestorm of criticism, Schlessinger apologized for some of her previous remarks

In response to "public revolt" by GLBT community, Schlessinger reportedly apologized that "some of the words I've used have hurt some people." According to The Globe and Mail (accessed via Nexis), Schlessinger apologized for some of her remarks on March 10, 2000, in response to efforts by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and other GLBT activists to "to ensure she is shut down or, if not, that she at least refrain from making the kinds of comments she has in the past":

The gay and lesbian community is currently staging its own public revolt, this one over controversial comments made by tough-love radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Schlessinger's television talk show is set to make its debut across the United States in September, and a powerful gay lobby is doing what it can to ensure she is shut down or, if not, that she at least refrain from making the kinds of comments she has in the past - that gays are "biological faux pas," for one. An on-line pharmacy, more.com, has just decided to stop advertising on Dr. Laura's radio show because of complaints from customers.

[...]

Instead, GLAAD is using a sophisticated, multimedia approach in its battle against Schlessinger. A recent demonstration outside the gates of Paramount Studios (which is distributing Schlessinger's upcoming talk show) drew hundreds of supporters, including some Paramount employees. A half-dozen local camera crews showed up, and the demonstration was featured prominently in the Los Angeles press. At issue are on-air statements that Schlessinger has made about gays being "deviant" and "errors." Both GLAAD's Web site and another - www.stopdrlaura.com - offer a list of Paramount executives and urge people to bombard them with calls and e-mails.

Paramount's only response has been a written statement in support of Schlessinger and a determination to present "society's moral and ethical issues without creating or contributing to an environment of hurt, hate or intolerance." Schlessinger released her own statement on March 10, which read in part: "Regrettably, some of the words I've used have hurt some people, and I'm sorry for that."

In response to campaign to force her program's cancellation, Schlessinger apologized for "the hurt" her remarks "caused the gay and lesbian community." The Associated Press reported on October 16, 2000 (accessed via Nexis) that Schlessinger bought an ad in Daily Variety to apologize for some of her remarks following efforts by gay rights activists to stop television stations from broadcasting her new talk show:

Laura Schlessinger used the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday - the Day of Atonement - to apologize to gays and lesbians for "poorly chosen" words she said have been perceived as hate speech.

"On the Day of Atonement, Jews are commanded to seek forgiveness from people we have hurt," the radio and TV talk show host, who is Jewish, said in a newspaper ad. "I deeply regret the hurt this situation has caused the gay and lesbian community."

The ad, in the form of a letter signed by Schlessinger, was included in a special "Gay Hollywood" edition of the trade paper Daily Variety. The Oct. 11 issue examines gains by gays and lesbians in the entertainment industry.

The issue was published two days after Yom Kippur.

Schlessinger has been criticized by gay rights activists for referring to homosexuality as a "biological error" and "deviant." In March, she said she was sorry her radio comments have hurt people.

Her words of contrition then and now failed to placate some critics.

"Laura Schlessinger once again blames others for the impact of her rhetoric, refusing to take responsibility for her precisely chosen, scientifically inaccurate descriptions of gay and lesbian lives," said Joan M. Garry, executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

"The anger Schlessinger's words have caused is too great and too profound to simply go away after a qualified admission of some guilt," Garry said in a statement.

Incensed by her characterization of homosexuality, gay rights activists tried to stop television stations from broadcasting her new "Dr. Laura" TV talk show, which debuted in September. In the controversy's wake, several top advertisers dropped their sponsorship.

Although Schlessinger's radio program is popular, her TV show has gotten lackluster ratings. Last month, production was briefly halted in order to retool the show.

The tart-tongued Schlessinger, who holds a doctorate in physiology and offers her listeners advice and lectures on morality, headlined her Daily Variety ad, "A heartfelt message from Dr. LauraSchlessinger."

"While I express my opinions from the perspective of an Orthodox Jew and a staunch defender of the traditional family, in talking about gays and lesbians some of my words were poorly chosen," the ad says.

"Many people perceive them as hate speech. This fact has been personally and professionally devastating to me as well as to many others," she said.

In 2009, Schlessinger said same-sex couples are "a beautiful thing and a healthy thing." On the April 8, 2009, edition of Larry King Live, Schlessinger stated that she doesn't "have much of an opinion" on gay marriage, and that while she believes "marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman," she also thinks that the idea that two people of the same sex "would have that sort of commitment to me is very healthy and very positive thing in their lives and society as a whole," and it is "a beautiful thing and a healthy thing." Blogger John Aravois, who participated in a campaign against her short-lived television show, said of her remarks "kudos to Dr. Laura. She's changed."

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, LGBTQ, Race & Ethnicity
Person
Laura Schlessinger
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