Dr. Laura leaves the kitchen.

The flare-up over Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s gratuitous use of the N-word during a call on her radio show last week provided a brief distraction from the overboard media coverage and political controversy over the proposed Islamic center in south Manhattan.  By now the circumstances of the call that led to her use of the word some 11 times, several of the times in succession, are well documented.  See, e.g., this Washington Post article and the apology she posted on her own web site.

Putting aside her use of the N-word, which in this context undoubtedly was offensive to many people, there are two other points I’d like to make. First, she offers the opinion that raising issues of race once a biracial president is in office is a red herring.  Apparently in her opinion, the election of Barak Obama as president has magically erased racism from our culture.  I think not.

Second, in her subsequent appearance with Larry King, she said she was giving up her radio show so she could “regain her first amendment rights.”  Funny, I don’t recall that the FCC was threatening to fine her for indecency, or that some other government agency was barring her from the airwaves.  So how were her first amendment rights infringed?  Oh, people criticized her for what she said.  The language in the first amendment is pretty clear, at least as to whom it prevents from restricting one’s speech.  “Congress shall make no law…”, and as a fundamental right, the 14th Amendment applies it to the states.  It does not insulate one from private reaction to your words, whether or not they would offend a “reasonable person.”  So, Dr. Laura is giving up her show because she doesn’t want to take the heat she generates.  I can understand that, but if you are getting out of the kitchen, as President Truman advised, don’t claim you’re doing it to protect your constitutional rights.

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