When Dr. Laura Schlessinger assaulted the airwaves on Aug. 10 with a barrage of the "N" word, while responding to a caller who identified herself as a Black female, the popular radio host advice-giver ignited a firestorm of criticism that shocked her so much she publicly announced plans to retire her radio show.
Media publicized Dr. Laura's "apology," which sounded more akin to a defense of the blunt force with which she bombarded the public with multiple series of the "N" word than a sincere reflection of the harm she unwittingly caused. Dr. Laura said her new plans include transitioning to public arenas where she believes she will be "freer" to speak her mind. Hopefully, she will include speaking her mind directly to Black Americans, the vast majority of whom were offended by her tirade of racial slurs.
Today, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), a group whose members and associates hold quite a different perspective regarding the use of the "N" word than Dr. Laura and her cohorts, released an official response calling for accountability by media personalities and their parent companies for the use of profane and offensive racial slurs.
NABJ Says Dr. Laura And Media Companies Must Be Held Accountable
Kathy Times, NABJ President
WASHINGTON, DC (Aug. 19, 2010) -- The following is a statement from Kathy Times, President of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) on the recent criticism of conservative talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger for using a racial slur on the air:
"I will never forget the first time I was called the n-word. In fact, a young white man in Alabama hit me with a double dose of hate and called me a n----- b----. It was 2002. It was my first day on a new job as an investigative reporter. It took a few seconds for the full impact of the slur to hit me. Then, it felt like I'd been sucker punched in the gut.
"I can imagine that is how the African-American caller felt when she and other listeners heard Dr. Laura Schlessinger use the n-word 11 times ... taken aback, shocked, and speechless.
"When will people learn it's never OK to use the n-word, no matter how many times it is uttered in the name of entertainment, sarcasm or disgust? Instead of helping one of her callers, Dr. Laura chose to go on a tirade that appeared to reveal deep-rooted thoughts on politics and black America.
"Dr. Laura apologized for using the offensive language. She does not have the right to use racial slurs on public airwaves. She says she will not do radio anymore, but there are deeper issues that must be addressed by the company that syndicates her show - Premiere Radio Networks. Why wait until the next on-air personality slips up?
"Is it time for the n-word and other racial epithets to be added to the list of seven dirty words (made famous by comedian George Carlin)?
"The use of those words hit broadcasters where it hurts them most -- on the bottom line with fines and lost advertising revenue. But the fear of losing ad dollars should not be the only reason to end this era of hate on the public's airwaves.
"It is past time for a movement to address 'Talk Show Hate.' As the president of the National Association of Black Journalists, my goal is not to change the inherent mindset of provocateurs and consumers of any controversial media platform, but instead to lead the charge in forums that educate those who dare to think for themselves.
"I believe most people are open to embracing people of all races based on the content of their character. We invite Dr. Laura and Premiere Radio Networks to join us in a conversation leading to change in the public discourse, which both embraces their right to free speech and our desire to end the use of racial slurs and epithets on the public's airwaves.
"By the way, that young white man who called me those terrible names eventually apologized and gave me an interview. I accepted the apology, but I'll never forget the venomous sting that my ancestors must have felt when their slave masters conjured up the n-word."
The National Association of Black Journalists is an advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C.
NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation, with more than 3,000 members. NABJ provides educational, career development and support to black journalists worldwide.