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Dr. Laura Schlessinger: I'm Sorry, But I'm Not Sorry

August 20, 2010

The media has been abuzz with Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s resignation from her radio show when it ends this year after repeating the N-word 11 times at a self-identified Black woman caller. Needless to say, her comments generated criticism, including from the Women’s Media Center, which along with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Media Matters for America, and UNITY Journalists of Color, called on her show’s sponsors to be accountable for the host’s recent racially charged rant. For a full transcript of her comments, see here. Although she apologized the next day, admitting that she was wrong for uttering the racial epithets on her show, her announcement that she will not be renewing her contract after it expires at the end of this year suggested that her departure had to do with being able “to regain her First Amendment rights.” Making the announcement on CNN, she explained, "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 or some special-interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent." I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry. Some apology, right? The story continued to gather steam when Sarah Palin defended Dr. Schlessinger on Twitter, posting two consecutive tweets: "Dr.Laura:don't retreat...reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence"isn't American,not fair")" and "Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!" “Shackles”??? As Media Matters’ Olivia Willis writes, both Dr. Schlessinger and Palin, influential media figures, are far from shackled. “Unlike slaves who were actually shackled and in shackles, neither Palin or Schlessinger are anyone's property, and they both have the freedom to speak, marry, vote, and engage in all the other privileges of being a citizen of the United States.” We’re all familiar with Palin’s appropriation of feminist rhetoric to gain political leverage despite her anti-woman stance on many issues. Her statements on the Dr. Schlessinger incident play the same rhetoric twisting game, this time framing a well-known media figure with her own wildly popular talk show host as someone who interrupted her caller mid-sentence to repeat an offensive word as silenced. Right. Today, she even re-tweeted a comment  that compares Dr. Schlessinger to Shirley Sherrod, whose video of a speech she gave at an NAACP event, was edited out of context to misleadingly frame her remarks as racially inflammatory and published on Andrew Breitbart’s prominent conservative website. Oh, yes, Schlessinger, who admitted to saying the N-word, issued a faux-apology, and appeared on CNN to discuss the incident is just like Sherrod, who was forced to resign from her Department of Agriculture job before she had a chance to explain the controversy that turned out to be a right-wing fabrication. “Not fair,” indeed. To be sure, Palin has a way with words--I’m sure it’s us “cackle of rads” that she’s addressing in her tweets for supposedly obstructing Dr. Schlessinger--and she will likely take full advantage of her popular media following to launch an offensive (“don’t retreat...reload”) on anyone who dares exercise their First Amendment right to respond to what she and her fellow conservative pundits say. I can’t say I’m thankful for Dr. Schlessinger or Palin, whose voices are far from unheard in the media. However, I will admit that Dr. Schlessinger is not incapable of giving worthwhile advice. Listen to the Media Matters clip below () that captured Dr. Schlessinger’s conversation with another caller moments before the infamous rant occurred, where she opines that one’s words to another should always “be appropriate to the mood, the moment and other people’s sensitivities” even when it seems undeserved (emphasis mine). If only Dr. Schlessinger and her great defender, Palin, would take her own advice! And see Women's Media Center President Jehmu Greene discuss the issue on Fox News:

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