The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dr. Laura's Rant

Here’s what it comes down to in terms of my reaction to Dr. Laura’s recent “N-word” rant:
1) I don’t think she is particularly racist. I do think she is a typical human being: thinks that her group, however she defines it (Jewish, white, Conservative) is superior, but is too polite to say it out loud.

2) Her position that because SOME black people use that word, and SOME black people enjoy hearing it (or don’t criticize) then NO black people have the right to complain when it is asinine. Just asinine.

3) The fact that that word is used frequently on HBO has NOTHING to do with whether it is appropriate to use it on broadcast radio. Nothing. She needs a serious fine...if Janet Jackson triggers one for showing a nipple...

4) It is disingenuous to pretend not to understand that there are context and situational meanings to actions and words. Things said within a group, or between friends or family, have ALWAYS been different when said by outsiders. I doubt there is an adult or child who doesn’t understand this. She is lying if she says she doesn’t.

5) And if she really doesn’t understand this, she has NO business offering any social or psychological advice to anyone. I would be totally stunned by her ignorance.

6) Consent is the core issue here. If I have sex with a woman, with her permission, it is called “Making love.” If I don’t have her permission, it is called “rape.” Same act.

7) Words have both connotative and denotative meanings. To pretend not to understand this, is rather amazing.

8) I think what you have here is another evidence of a majority group which once had total, unequivocal power starting to feel psychological pressure as the demographics shift. Human beings want to believe that the entire world revolves around them, their families, people who worship, think, or look like them. It is fascinating to watch the dysfunction accelerate.

9) My take on this lady is that she doesn’t trust her own judgment, and leans on her particular version of Judaism rather rigidly. I enjoyed her show back when I listened to it some years ago. Thought that she did a LOT of good for the people who called in: never heard her give a piece of advice I found damaging. Basically, I thought she was pouring a quart of guts into some pretty spineless wimps. Then...something happened. Her rigidity about homosexuality rose up to bite her when gays targeted her right as she was about to make the move to television. They KICKED HER ASS. It was almost painful to watch. And she never really recovered--became more rigid, less flexible, less fun to listen to...but simultaneously less honest. Clearly kept her attitudes about gays, but wouldn’t talk about it any more. Not good.

10) Despite her family problems, everything she said seemed to default to the question “what is best for the children”? And while she took a rigid perspective (that seemed based in her particular religious convictions), I always thought her heart was in the right place. I still think she means well--but that she has become so ideological that her humanity and common sense is secondary to “Hey! This makes sense from my political perspective! How dare anyone insist their position is as valid!”

That’s a shame. She has become tone-deaf to human emotion. Political certainty is no substitute for an open heart.


Nancy Lebovitz said...

Any theories about why she has an audience? Why, after all these years of malice, people still ask for her advice?

Backing up to something you posted to Facebook that I didn't answer there-- I don't think there ever was a golden age, but as far as I can remember, there didn't used to be an entertainment niche for people to be as nasty as they thought they can get away with.

Brother OMi said...

I don't think she is racist. I find that she is out of touch with about 99% of the population. I also find that she is delusional about most of the things she talks about.

btw, she has a doctorates in physiology and NOT psychology like most people assume.

Althea said...

I used to listen to her show in the late 1990s. She made a lot of sense back then. But I have to agree...she's become insanely rigid in her views.

For Dr. Laura, or anyone to say, "If you didn't want to hear racist comments from your husband's friends, then you shouldn't have gotten into an interracial relationship," is one of the dumbest, disconnected, and dishonest sentences ever spoken.

Shady_Grady said...

She was on Larry King. She said she's ending her radio show at end of the year so that she can retain her First Amendment rights and not be subject to intimidation by "special interest" groups.

I think she is a crusty old racist.

Steven Barnes said...

I still don't think she is a racist in the classic sense. I do think she has become deaf and dumb to much of the human voice---she is so anchored to an absolute view of morality that it's twisted her and wrung her out.

And "first amendment rights" has to do with government interference, not the ire of private citizens. And I'm quite certain she would approve of the government taking interest in someone screaming "Kike" or the C-word over and over.

I'm actually saddened.

IYASU said...

WHO IS DR.LAURA? (syke! [that means just playin]) in other words, at the end of the day does it really matter? NIGGER, HONKEY, FAG, DYKE, CRACK-HEAD.... there has always been and will always be ignorant people in the world until the end of time... (the GOOD Samaratin) I mean really... Since Obama got in folks been REALLY goin' through some changes..... laugh now,cry later.