Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dr. Laura OR I Will Explode if I Don't Rant About This

I wasn't really familiar with Dr. Laura until today. I saw an article on Jezebel claiming she was "reclaiming" her First Amendment rights by leaving radio after going off on a racist tirade. So, of course, I had to find out what all this business was about. Honestly, though, I'm far more disgusted than I ever anticipated being.

If you want to listen to this-- and you probably should if you want to actually read this post so you'll understand what I'm talking about-- remember it's NSFW due to language. You also may not want to be near anything that can be used as a weapon. You'll be angry, trust me.


So I suppose I just want to make a few points.

1. Asking what "you [insert race here]" think or do is racist. There is an implication in these kinds of questions and in the way they are being asked (according to the caller) that people who are not White are in some way fundamentally different than White people. Non-Whites are not a freak alien race. People are people.

2. "Without giving much thought, a lot of Blacks voted for Obama simply because he was half-Black. Didn't matter what he was gonna do in office-- it was a Black thing! You gotta know that!" So if we're going with that assumption, wouldn't it also follow that White people who voted for McCain because he was White are misguided? I think we're all very aware of the fact that many of the lovely American people thought that it "didn't matter what [Obama] was gonna do in office"-- all that mattered was that he was of a different color (and we don't have to get into the whole debate of whether he is omg a Muslim oh the horror!) I'd like to add that I think one of the most crucial factors in Obama being elected was youth, not Black people. I'm pretty sure 98% of Clark University students (many of whom were White) voted for Obama because he seemed to be a force for hope and change, as well as because he was more young and vibrant than McCain.

3. The very idea that Obama being in office should have automatically meant America was "over" racism is ludicrous. Oh, have more Black people been complaining about racism lately, Dr. Laura? Maybe that's because it's still very much alive and well. Maybe it's because having a Black president probably means the head of our country is being judged based on the color of his skin. Maybe they feel now they have someone to back them or a motivation to rise above White privilege. Or maybe it's the same as always because not much really changed and now you notice it because you're delusional enough to have thought that okay now the oppressed people will be happy because look at Obama! Also, it's terribly ironic to hear a racist spewing racist hatred about how racism is supposed to be over now.

4. I know you've complained that you left your show because you've had your First Amendment rights usurped. You are one of the many people in this world who don't understand the First Amendment. First, it's ludicrous to be complaining that your speech is restricted when you have A RADIO SHOW TO VOICE YOUR OPINIONS and then you can GO ON LARRY KING AND SAY YOUR OPINIONS. Second, one of the great and terrible things about the First Amendment is that it protects everyone; meaning that you have your right to say racist awfulness as long as you follow certain rules and everyone else has the right to disagree with you (freedom of speech is NOT freedom from being disagreed with-- you can say whatever you like but remember that everyone else can say whatever they like right back). The reason why the KKK can still exist and spew ignorance is the First Amendment just as much as the reason liberals can protest their rallies is The First Amendment. If you're going to get to talk, everyone has to too. Even though I hate what you've said, I recognize that if we restrict you we have to restrict me, too. You can say whatever you want, but if you're going to claim that people hating you is infringing on your freedom of speech, I have the right to say you're an idiot that doesn't understand the Bill of Rights.

And I say these things, wonderful readers of mine, not because I think any of you need to hear it. I'm willing to bet that all of you are very civilized and kind and forward-thinking. I don't think you need to be reminded that people are people no matter what their skin color is. I think, though, that the only reason incidents like these should ever get any attention is for a wake-up call. I'm ranting about this on the Internet because I am asking all of you to remember at this moment that there are people out there who think these things and that they are the reason that the rest of us need to be strong and take up the cause of equal rights, love, and respect for all people. People like Dr. Laura are the reason that we should talk to our children about race and about how to love one another. People like Dr. Laura are the reason that we need to speak up when we hear or see injustice and try to be the voice of reason. People like Dr. Laura are the reason that we really should question things like our own White (if you are White) privilege and at the very least see it. If we see it, we can ask ourselves how to start to erase it. Moments like these, however terrible, are teachable moments. They are moments in which we have to look at ourselves honestly and ask if we are really doing enough.

EDIT: Anyone who's ever wondered why it's more okay for Black people to say the n-word watch this video (or even if you haven't-- it's really great). Or, at least, why any other race shouldn't get any real say in if they are allowed to say it. And why other races DO NOT get to say it.


Anonymous said...

In Canada, that would probably be taken to court- we have a thing called "Hate Speech." So when Anne Coulter came here and told a muslim student to go "take a camel, or a flying carpet." she almost got into legal trouble because that's hate speech.

Still, what an idiot.

amanda said...

Ok, I can't listen to her lovely words of affection for people of colour because I need to watch my blood pressure.

What she (and a lot of people, obviously) need to realize is the simple truth that words have power. The childhood taunt is not true: words can hurt more than sticks or stones. My broken arm can heal in a month; calling me a cunt will forever change the way I look at other women.
Black people can refer to each other using the n-word with little to no repercussion. It is never, EVER okay for a white person to do it because words have power. This word has history. The n-word, spewed from a white person's mouth carries with it hundreds of years of slavery, brutality and death.
When I call my friends (or even myself) a "fabulous bitch", it means something totally different than if a straight man were to say the same thing.
Dr. Laura is a fucking moron if she can't understand the very blatant differences in each situation. She commented on context, so she should understand that what she said was, in fact, hate speech and not at all covered by the First Amendment. You can't scream "fire" in a crowded theatre and then complain when you're slapped with charges to incite a riot. Dr. Laura shouted the n-word, and now she has to deal with the consequences.

Jem said...

Ugh... Dr. Laura disgusts me. She clearly doesn't understand that its not okay to say such things. Words I think have more power then guns and fighting ever will. When people, such as Dr. Laura, make racist statements it harms anyone who listens to it, especially those who its directed at. It teaches people, especially young children, that its okay to think like this. Which isn't true. Instead we need to insure that children understand why its bad to make racist statements and that we are all human. Also I love what Luinae wrote, I never knew that Canada had a "hate speech" law. The United States really ought to add this to our amendments, its a brilliant idea to insure that people suffer from making such comments.

Vanessa said...

Luinae and Jem: Your comments got me thinking and I'm actually going to see if The Boyfriend will come here and leave a comment explaining how Hate Speech works in America for anyone who isn't familiar (he's taken a bunch of Constitutional law courses so he's had to learn this stuff backwards and forwards). I always find it really interesting in and of itself and I actually hadn't thought what, if any, legal repercussions Dr. Laura would have over this. Also, yuck to Ann Coulter. Ugh.

Amanda: you have prompted me with your wonderful comment to an add an edit of a fantastic video I found about exactly this. You're fabulous.

Luke said...

I've actually been struggling with writing this comment(that nobody'll probably read) for a while now, and I've determined that the best way to explain how free speech works in the U.S. without writing a book is to have a conversation. Not having one available, I'll try to be brief.

Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because we don't believe in restricting the CONTENT of a person's speech (when conducted in the proper time, place, and manner).

Unfortunately, Dr. Laura has every right to be ignorant (especially since we have the right NOT to listen to her). That's why it really burns me up that she says she's leaving the radio to get her First Amendment right back. Bitch never had it taken away from her.

The U.S. Constitution's take on the issue of hate speech is "combat speech with more speech." Have a "Dr. Laura's an Ignorant $%&!" rally.

Vanessa said...

Luke: I think that would be a fantastic rally. And thanks for helping :)


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