grievance: “Black guys talking to each other seem to think it’s O.K. 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.” Perhaps to protest this double standard, she used the word 11 times in 5 minutes to a black woman married to a white man. When the woman protested, Schlessinger advised, "If you're that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry out of your race."
One can debate why some "black guys" may use the word; however, there are associations with white people using the word within the historic context of racism in America–a context in which "affectionate" cannot possibly apply. This context accounts for the fuss that greeted Schlessinger's use of the word. So she apologized on her blog–and then, on Larry King Live, announced that she's quitting her show and complained, "I want my First Amendment rights back, which I can't have on radio without the threat of attack on my advertisers and stations ...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."
In a commentary, Linda Holmes of NPR correctly stated that Schlessinger's First Amendment rights were never withdrawn; what she can't stand is others exercising their own freedom to dissent, verbally attack and economically boycott.
Sarah Palin, who similarly confused newspaper criticism of her attacks on Obama with threats to her own First Amendment rights, came out with two Twitter comments in support of Schlessinger. The first:
Dr.Laura:don't retreat...reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence"isn't American,not fair")
The second, in which Palin demonstrated her "expertise" on the Constitution:
Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!
Interesting that Palin should protest Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's use of the word "retarded," but call Schlessinger's use of the N-word an exercise of Constitutional rights and something to be thankful for. Also interesting that Schlessinger, who was disappointed in McCain's choice of Palin as a running mate, should imitate the former governor on two counts: first by quitting and second by completely misunderstanding what First Amendment rights mean. Crooks and Liars proposed a third possible parallel between the two:
Shall we take bets on how long it takes before [Schlesinger] becomes a contributor on Fox News, or gets her own show?