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Rashad Robinson

Rashad Robinson

Posted: December 2, 2010 01:20 PM

It turns out Laura Schlessinger's so-called "retirement" from radio is going to last all of a day or two. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the current incarnation of Dr. Laura ends on December 31. Her new show on SiriusXM will begin on January 3. That's not a retirement; that's a weekend.

After signing her new deal with SiriusXM, Schlessinger told the Associated Press, "The first and most important thing that appealed to me was the freedom to speak my mind without advertisers and affiliates being attacked by activist groups that just love to censor anything they don't agree with."

First, anyone who spends as much time as she does dispensing "expertise" must know what the definition of censorship is. More importantly, she also must know that she has likely NEVER been on the receiving end of it.

After Schlessinger aired a rant about race and what she called racial "hypersensitivity," which lasted nearly six minutes, and included eleven fully articulated, uncensored instances of the N-word, it wasn't the FCC that came down on her. It wasn't some all-powerful media entity that shut off her mic.

In fact, NOBODY shut off her mic. She started getting criticized for her vile rhetoric, and rightfully so. Then she told Larry King she didn't want to play anymore and that she was taking her ball and going home. And now it turns out that she's not even doing that.

For someone who has written about "individual empowerment" (in Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, 1995), Schlessinger loves playing the victim. She did the same thing about a decade ago, when the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and a well-organized group of activists took her on for saying that gay and lesbian people are "destructive, disordered, unhealthy," and a "biological error."

We know Schlessinger will likely never see these words, given how criticism seems to be her kryptonite. But she certainly doesn't avoid the media, and we hope that someday, someone in the media will stop giving her a free pass, and inform her that "freedom of speech" does not mean "freedom from the consequences of speech." Being on SiriusXM just means she may use as many expletives as she wants and the FCC won't say anything. It doesn't mean she can resume using her platform to demean entire communities of people with hateful and harmful language and expect to not be criticized. The exact same people who called Schlessinger out for her hurtful attitudes about race and sexual orientation will do so no matter what airwaves she happens to be on.

It seems to me Schlessinger's move to SiriusXM has nothing to do with "freedom" or "censorship" or whatever other buzzwords she wants to incorrectly use. SiriusXM went to her with a truck full of cash, thinking she will help them reach a certain demographic. There you go, deal done. This proves that SiriusXM has no issue with paying lots of money to a woman who casually throws around the N word and calls gay people "biological errors." The only right Schlessinger is somehow regaining by moving to satellite radio, is the right to make money by the wheelbarrow.

Right before she talks about "individual empowerment" in Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, Schlessinger has a few paragraphs titled "No Rights Without Responsibility." And while she was not talking about speech in her book, that title applies universally, wherever rights are enjoyed. Ms. Schlessinger does have the right to free speech (and despite her claims, she never lost it), but she also has the responsibility to not use that speech to cause harm.

If she is using her national media platform to demean entire groups of people -- as she did a decade ago, and as she did a few months ago -- those of us who oppose those hurtful messages will speak up, no matter who is broadcasting them. Enjoy that weekend, Dr. Laura.

 

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