Here's the thing, I really don't care that Dr. Laura Schlessinger is ending her radio program. Several years ago, I listened to her and, at some point, I don't remember when, I simply grew tired of her. As one who may be accused of moralizing by some, her moralizing grew tiresome and trite, so I stopped listening. As a matter of fact, I forgot she was even on the air.
Until last week...
This was the week when self important entertainers who've grown to take themselves far, far too seriously and believe themselves to be beyond conventional manners and taste, get reminded that there are people who consider them neither experts nor entertainers. They are reminded that outside their 'celebrity' bubble they are simply tolerated, until they've crossed those taste and manners boundaries. How they respond at that point, tells whether they realize whether or not they've over estimated their significance.
Many of you have heard the clip, if not the broadcast (calling it a 'show' accords it to much credit as entertainment). Dr. Laura's 'N-word rant' as it is being euphemistically called, was a self indulgent exercises of petulance and insensitivity to infantile to be elevated to the level of racism. It was childish tirade spewed by someone who thought herself and her perspective too lofty to be challenged. "Oh, YOU have the temerity to question MY use of the word?! Let me show you how many times I can use it and how unconcerned I am that you are offended by the very idea that I'm saying it!"
She did apologize. The very next day in fact:
"Yesterday, I did the wrong thing," she said. "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."
Schlessinger said she "was so upset [she] could not finish the show."
"I pulled myself off the air at the end of the hour," she said. "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."
How upset was she? Yesterday she announced on the 'Larry King Show' that she was leaving radio. Why? Because she was so profoundly sorry that she wants to make sure it never happens again? Because she embarrassed herself? Because she wants to show the depth of her remorse?
"The reason is I want to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what's on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is the time to silence a voice of dissent and attack affiliates, attack sponsors. I'm sort of done with that."
She's resigning because she can't use the 'N-word' whenever she wants?! That's what was on her mind? That's what was in her heart? Because the same First Amendment give her the 'right' to use the word, doesn't give people offended by her use of the word the right to object? Or protest? Or boycott her sponsors? That's why she's resigning? Then what was the point of the apology? Wash she 'upset' because of the blow back she knew she'd receive because of her self indulgence?
Well, ok, I guess...
What bothers me is not her leaving the radio. We'll miss her (well maybe not so much), but there's another issue in my mind. For a few more days now, we'll have this tiresome discussion about who can and who can't use the 'N-word'. Silly defenses of its use, like Whoopi Goldberg who will say using the word will 'take the power out of it'. And worn out discussions about how Black people use it affectionately as well as derisively. How Richard Pryor, Dick Gregory, Redd Foxx have used the word but how white people can't. Or why 'some' white people can.
Here's the question I have: if you are white, why do you want to use the word? No matter how many blacks use the word, and no matter why we use it, why would YOU want to use it? Of what are being deprived by my objection to your use of the word? What point are you trying to make to a black woman, that you can't make without using the word?
The 'N-word' is only one of the words that can't be used without raising strong opposition. There are words you can't use to describe women, for instance, that you cannot use when addressing a woman. You don't complain about not using those words.
What difference does it make to you how many times you hear black people say it; see it in our literature; in our movies; in comedy routines by our musicians. Why do YOU want to use it?
Is it in your heart too? Is it on your mind? Do you resent the idea of not being able to use the one insult that you think will do me the most emotional, psychological pain, or shame me the most?
Is there something about the use of that word that makes you feel superior by its use? Or inferior by my objection? Or is it something that you think is 'cool' that you just want to be in on? Why do YOU want to use THAT word?
Here's the thing. As Chris Rock, a comedian to whom the word is no stranger says, you can't use the word because you can't! That's just the rule. There are a lot of rules out there and that's one of them! You can't yell 'fire' in a crowded room and you can't use that word. I'm sorry if that hurts your feelings, but that's just the rule.
Dr. Laura can resign because she wants the 'freedom' to be ill mannered and disrespectful whenever its on her mind or in her heart to do so. Fine. She has that right. We all do. But remember, those who are hurt and offended have just as much right to take offense, to protest, to object. And to call boorish, rude, puerile, insufferable idiocy what it is. Even when its wrapped in the flag and couched in some misguided sense of sophistication.
Now, if only we could get some of these other 'entertainers' to just...go away.