Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's Not Racist; It's A Fakeroversy

You know why no one watches CNN anymore? I'm guessing it's because they lead with ridiculous stories with descriptions such as "Radio talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger engages in a racially charged discussion with a caller to her show" as well as "Dr. Laura's racist rant". Good Lord, people. Seriously?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dr. Laura, allow me. Dr. Laura is a somewhat sanctimonious radio talk show personality who takes calls from people who don't know what to do about some sort of problem that they're having in their life. Dr. Laura believes in not having sex before marriage (she tends to call woman who engage in such behaviors the lovely pet name of "whores"), not living together before marriage, stay at home moms, two parent families and stuff of that nature. Her message is wonderful. It's a little unrealistic on some fronts, but very few. There isn't a lot that people who don't like her can say in disagreement with the messages that she sends. Granted, she can be hard to take at times. But the things that she advocates are excellent messages to send to people.

You'd imagine that it would be unlikely for a person of that caliber to go on a "racist rant". Yeah, that's because she didn't. Here's what happened: A called phoned her show

"I'm having an issue with my husband where I'm starting to grow very resentful of him. I'm black and he's white. We've been around some of his friends and family members who start making racist comments as if I'm not there or if I'm not black. And my husband ignores those comments, and it hurts my feelings. And he acts like..." And here is where Dr. Laura jumps in with "Well, can you give me an example of a racist comment? 'Cause sometimes people are hypersensitive. So tell me what's...give me two good examples of racist comments." The woman continues, "OK. Last night, good example, we had a neighbor come over, and this neighbor, when every time he comes over, it's always a black comment." (Well, if he's commenting about her grammar skills, given that sentence right there, he might be right.) "It's 'Oh, well, how do you black people like doing this?' And, 'Do black people really like doing that?' And for a long time, I would ignore it. But last night I got to the point where it..." Fortunately, Dr. Laura broke in with exactly what I was thinking when she said, "I don't think that's racist." I don't either. Inquisitive, perhaps. Racist? Nah.

The caller tried to defend her position by saying, "Well, the stereotype..." And unfortunately, we didn't get to hear what stereotype she was referring to. Was it some sort of archaic watermelon or fried chicken stereotype? We'll never know. Dr. Laura responded by saying, "I don't think that's racist. No, I think that..." And the caller was a bit surprised by this and uttered a, "Seriously." (You know. Because if a black person says that something is racist, it is automatically, by definition, racist. That's why all us white folks are racist. Some black person said that we were and voila!) Dr. Laura was, apparently, serious as she explained, "No, no, no. I think that's...well, listen, 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. That's not a surprise. Not everything that somebody says...we had friends over the other day. We got about 35 people here...the guys who were gonna start playing basketball. I was going to go out and play basketball. My bodyguard and my dear friend is a black man. And I said, 'White men can't jump. I want you on my team.' That was racist? That was funny." Wow. That was quite a diversion. (She needs a bodyguard to play basketball at her house? Maybe she does, what do I know. It was just a little surprising, that's all.) Oh, boy. Here we go.

And we did go. Well, the caller went. The caller went to the place where if you're white, you're going to lose. That's right. She went to The N-word Land. She said, "How about the N-word? So, the N-word's been thrown around..." And here is where Dr. Laura took the opportunity to make a most excellent point. She said, "Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic, and all you hear is N-word, N-word, N-word." Only she didn't say "N-word". No, she said the word. And no, the caller didn't like it.

"That isn't..." But Dr. Laura wasn't going to stop making her point there (which seems like a good idea as I would imagine it would be hard for your point to stick if you ended your argument with the N-word). She continued, "I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing. But when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing. Don't hang up. I want to talk to you some more. Don't go away." And somewhat to my surprise, the caller didn't go away. And neither did the demonstrative spewing of epithets. Awesome!

She comes back after the commercial and says, "I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger, talking to Jade. What did you think about during the break, by the way?" That's a nice way to ease into it. But I don't think that Jade was quite on the same page as Dr. Laura was. "I was a little caught back by the N-word that you spewed out. I have to be honest with you. But my point is, race relations..." Oh, OK. So, during the break, you thought about the ways in which you were just wronged by the white woman. Grand. But Dr. Laura stayed on her toes and said, "Oh, then I guess you don't watch HBO or listen to any black comedians." (I don't know what the stretch is there that implies that everyone on the planet has HBO. I get the part about the comedians, but HBO? I find that odd. But, go on...) The woman responds, "But that doesn't make it right." Good Lord....

I wasn't the only one thinking that. "I think you have too much sensitivity..." Dr. Laura said to Jade. Jade, completely missing the point, said, "So, it's OK to say N-word?" No, you twit. That's not what she said.

Dr. Laura: "...and not enough sense of humor."

Jade: "It's OK to say that word?"

Dr. Laura: "It depends how it's said." (She's right, by the way. Jade, it won't likely surprise you, doesn't really agree.)

Jade: "Is it OK to say that word? Is it ever OK to say that word?"

Dr. Laura: "It' depends how it's said. Black guys talking to each other seem to think it's OK." (They do seem to. I get that impression and I don't even have the HBO.)

Jade: "But you're not black. They're not black. My husband is white."

Dr. Laura: "Oh, I see. So a word is restricted to race. Got it. Can't do much about that." (And here is where Jade becomes completely irrational. She also starts making stuff up.)

Jade: "I can't believe someone like you is on the radio spewing out the N-word, and I hope everybody heard it." (She has over nine million listeners. I'm going to bet that at least one of them heard it. Now if only Jade could have heard her point.)

Dr. Laura: "I didn't spew out the N-word."

Jade: "You said, 'N-word, N-word, N-word." (She heard that, but not much else.)

Dr. Laura: "Right. I said that's what you hear."

Jade: "Everybody heard it." (Ahh. So she's well versed on the concept of the radio. That's good.)

Dr. Laura: "Yes, they did."

Jade: "I hope everybody heard it." (I take back what I said about being well versed on the concept of the radio.)

Dr. Laura: "They did...and I'll say it again..."

Jade: "So, what makes it OK for you to say that word?"

Dr. Laura: "N-word, N-word, N-word is what you hear on HB..."

Jade: "So what makes it..."

Dr. Laura: "Why don't you let me finish a sentence?"

Jade: "OK."

Dr. Laura: "Don't take things out of context. Don't double N...NAACP me...didn't call anybody a n---er. Nice try, Jade. Actually sucky try. You need a sense of humor."

I still don't see anything wrong with what she said or how she handled it. But someone must have. Someone with power over her (ie, advertisers, syndicators, radio gods, etc.) must have seen something wrong with it because she ended up apologizing. I found it odd. Apologizing when you've done nothing wrong. This is what she said:

"I talk every day about doing the right thing. And yesterday, I did the wrong thing. I didn't intend to hurt people, but I did. And that makes it the wrong thing to have done. I was attempting to make a philosophical point, and I articulated the N-word all the way out, more than one time. And that was wrong. I'll say it again. That was wrong."

Is that how it works for reals? Even if you didn't intend to hurt people, if it does, then it's wrong? I'm not so sure that's true when it comes to pointing out factual instances. Just because someone isn't good at dealing with reality, does that mean that when people point out reality to them and it hurts them that it's wrong? I don't think that it does. What about her apology? What if her apology hurts people who believed that what she was saying at first was right? Does that make her apology wrong? I don't think that it does. It's strange. It's all very strange.
This is so not a "racist rant". It's also so not a controversy. It's nothing more than a few folks trying to stir up a fakeroversy (fake controversy). Granted, Dr. Laura's apology makes it sound like more of a real controversy, but don't be fooled! There is absolutely nothing to this. NOTHING. And anyone who tries to make something of it is a complete moron.

I am disappointed that Jade wasn't able to explain why it is OK for black people to say it to each other. I understand that it's a slur for white people to say it. That doesn't need to be explained to me. But how come a slur isn't always a slur? Why is this word allowed contextual acceptance? I don't get it.

But to end things on a more amusing note, here is a snippet from an episode of South Park that kind of deals with just this very issue. Enjoy!

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