Dr. Laura (or: "A Stopped Clock is Right Twice a Day")
There have been two stories regarding radio personality - turned "soon-to-be-former radio personality" - turned "haha, just kidding, still a radio personality" Dr. Laura Schlessinger in the last week, both of which need to be addressed.
The first is her pending move to SiriusXM Satellite Radio. (Full disclosure, I was a reporter, producer and news anchor on SiriusXM's OutQ channel for several years before joining GLAAD)
GLAAD Senior Director of Media Programs Rashad Robinson addressed Schlessinger's reitteration of her false "censorship" argument in a piece that ran on the Huffington Post this week.
After signing her new deal with SiriusXM, Schlessinger told the Associated Press, "The first and most important thing that appealed to me was the freedom to speak my mind without advertisers and affiliates being attacked by activist groups that just love to censor anything they don't agree with."
We know Schlessinger will likely never see these words, given how criticism seems to be her kryptonite. But she certainly doesn't avoid the media, and we hope that someday, someone in the media will stop giving her a free pass, and inform her that "freedom of speech" does not mean "freedom from the consequences of speech." Being on SiriusXM just means she may use as many expletives as she wants and the FCC won't say anything. It doesn't mean she can resume using her platform to demean entire communities of people with hateful and harmful language and expect to not be criticized. The exact same people who called Schlessinger out for her hurtful attitudes about race and sexual orientation will do so no matter what airwaves she happens to be on.
You can read Rashad's full piece here.
The second is her condemnation of the military's existing Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy - which she apparently began her show with yesterday. Listen to the audio here. She said:
"This business of being concerned about whether or not a person is gay is utterly ridiculous, in my opinion. Homosexuals have served in the military since we’ve had our ragtag guys in the forest dealing with Indians and the British. Straight men and women have fought next to gays, eaten in the chow hall next to gays, PT'd next to gays, bunked next to gays, and even died next to gays on the battlefield, whether they knew it or not."
Schlessinger then explains a bit about how the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law is interpreted, talks about the Pentagon study, gets in a little dig at Obama for having not yet followed through on his 2009 promise to lift the ban, and ends with this.
"It is time to recognize the desires of all people competent to serve in our military, and afford them the opportunity to contribute to this noble, often thankless, but very necessary profession."
Obviously we agree with this idea 100%. Does this make a difference? Not really.
When we criticized Dr. Laura earlier this year, we didn't do it because we disagree with her ideas. We criticized her because of how she has chosen to express those ideas - by name-calling, by denigrating, or by using hurtful language that does nothing but demean and dehumanize people with whom SHE disagrees.
Of course we're glad she's on the right side of this issue. She has a powerful platform that could definitely help change a few hearts and minds. Which is exactly why it's dangerous when she uses that platform to use hurtful language. And it's why she'll only be free from our criticism when she stops defending her choices to use vile words to demean entire communities.