Friday, August 20, 2010

Schlessinger And Palin Confuse Criticism With Loss Of First Amendment Rights

Dr. Laura Schlessinger has gone through several twists and turns since since using the N-word on the radio. She has apparently nursed a 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In a commentary, Linda Holmes of NPR correctly stated that Schlessinger's First Amendment rights were never withdrawn; what she can't stand is others exercising their own freedom to dissent, verbally attack and economically boycott.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?


Opinionated Rat said...

Is it possible that Dr Laura doesn't understand that the N word is actually the N words, and they are homonyms.

3rd Lawrence said...

I don't understand your amusement in pointing out that Dr. Laura might go on Fox News. Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann went on MSNBC, didn't they? And Dan "Memogate" Rather went on CBS, yes? What's wrong with people going on networks whose audiences would appreciate them? We don't begrudge liberals going on liberal networks, so why should you begrudge conservatives going on conservative networks? Fair's fair. Or at least it used to be.

P.S. I came to your blog because I really liked what you wrote in the NYT regarding food and energy expenditure. I'm a science lover myself, and hate to see it trashed by propagandists.

VitaminT said...

Oh, that is confusing. I also found your blog through the other author's article on locavores, and it took me a little while to sort out the fact that there are two separate authors using the same blog name. At any rate, I appreciate you pointing out that Sarah Palin objected to the word "retarded", but seems to think Dr. Laura has a "constitutional right" to use the n-word without suffering any consequences. Also, I wish more attention had been given to Dr. Laura's rude demand, "don't NAACP me." That comment, along with the way she interrupted and dismissed the caller, stood out to me more than anything else when I actually heard her ranting diatribe.

Jeff Tone said...

3rd Lawrence: I’m not amused. MSNBC openly states that it’s “The Place for Politics.” Fox News pretends that it’s “Fair and Balanced.” Given the reality of Fox, the latter slogan is Orwellian.

Vitamin T: Yes, it is noteworthy that Palin criticizes Emanuel and defends Schlessinger–and that the latter made a comment about the NAACP that is also worthy of outrage.

The author of the article you both refer to blogs at “Stephen Budiansky’s Liberal Curmudgeon Blog”: