The scene: Dr. Laura takes a call from a listener—a black woman married to a white man—asking for advice about insensitive racial comments made by relatives. Dr. Laura gripes that since Obama is president she really doesn’t know why black people keep complaining, and that because black people use the n-word freely, it must be okay in some contexts. To make her point, she decides to use the n-word. A lot. She then cuts the caller off, saying “If you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race.”
To make a long story short, there was backlash—sustained, righteous backlash.
Dr. Laura backed down the next day, saying her behavior had been wrong. But on Monday she complained:”as the media have rebroadcast my error again and again and again and again, compounding the damage which I shouldn’t have done — and never intended to do in the first place — the effect has been that my words have offended many, many, many, many more people and there are many who are saying they will not accept my apology.”
Now Dr. Laura says she won’t renew her radio show. It’s unclear whether this was her choice, or an effort to save face when her host station and sponsors dropped their support. But Dr. Laura wants you to know it’s really a civil rights issue:
“I want my 1st Amendment rights back, which I can’t have on radio without the threat of attack on my advertisers and stations,” Schlessinger said.
Here’s the problem: no one denied Dr. Laura her First Amendment rights. What happened is capitalism, not censorship, and it’s a perfect example of how free speech is supposed to work. Dr. Laura exercised her First Amendment right to free speech, and people reacted by exercising theirs—they protested to her sponsors. The end.
Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want with complete impunity. Sometimes your free speech will come back to bite you in the ass. And really, all this self-serving bullshit about censorship is rather ironic coming from someone whose latest book is titled Stop Whining, Start Living.