Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a conservative radio talk show host who listens to peoples’ problems and then either gives advice or berates them for being doofuses. Now Dr. Laura is in trouble for using one of the words you should not say ever on the air.
The word in question is the one often referred to as the “N Word,” a term used to insult African Americans. According to ABC News:
“Schlessinger ignited a firestorm of criticism after Media Matters posted audio from a Tuesday conversation she had with a black female caller. The caller was complaining about her white husband’s friends and their use of the N-word. In response, Schlessinger said:
“‘Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO and listen to a black comic, and all you hear is n****r, n****r, n****r. 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.’
“When the caller said she was appalled by Schlessinger’s use of the N-word, the radio host demurred, ‘Oh, then I guess you don’t watch HBO or listen to any black comedians. My dear, the point I am trying to make … we’ve got a black man as president and we’ve got more complaining about racism than ever. I think that’s hilarious.’
“Their exchange heated up after that. When the caller said she couldn’t believe Schlessinger was “on the radio spewing out” the N-word, Schlessinger said she ‘didn’t spew out’ the N-word and repeated, ‘n****r, n****r, n****r is what you hear on HBO.’
“She then criticized the caller, saying ‘Don’t take things out of context. Don’t NAACP me.’
“Their conversation ended there. Schlessinger offered an epilogue to her audience: ‘If you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry outside of your race.'”
Schlessinger has since apologize for her use of the “N Word,” chastened as she was by the firestorm it had created.
Dr. Laura forgot, as some have occasionally, what makes words offensive often depends on cultural and even ethnic context, as well as the literal meaning. For example, her example of an HBO comedian was somewhat specious. Schlessinger is not an HBO comedian. She is a conservative radio talk show host who gives out advice to people who very often are very much in need of it. One such piece of advice that Dr. Laura would likely have given to someone who erred as she did is that just because other people are vulgar does not mean that one should be oneself.
It’s not political correctness to eschew the “N Word;” it is politeness. And that is a conservative principle worth striving for.
Words You Can’t Say Ever, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, March 22nd, 2007
Critics: Dr. Laura’s Rant Reiterates N-Word Is Never OK, Sheila Marikar, ABC News, August 13th, 2010