Remember the old yarn about turning a pig’s ear into a silk purse? It may apply to Laura Schlessinger’s new talk TV show. On Monday, local station WHTM-TV, an ABC affiliate, ran her new television show along with local stations across the country.
When asked recently, ABC-27’s Program Manager Tishia Wiest didn’t know the text of Schlessinger’s remarks. She told one local viewer over the telephone the station was aware of the national controversy but were not aware of what Schlessinger had actually said. That’s lousy due diligence for a local television station. Perhaps that’s why they all work in triple-hyphenated television markets, not much wattage or savvy here.
If the station collecting advertising revenue on hate-based programming won’t tell you what Laura Schlessinger has said, I will. Actually, I like Anna Quindlen’s description of her listeners as "people who weren’t yelled at enough as kids and are now making up for lost time".
But first, I will not use this space to call for removal or censorship of her show. This column is not about Schlessinger’s first amendment rights. It is about the responsibilities that accompany those, or any, cherished right.
It is not "responsible" for Schlessinger to mislead her listening, reading, and now her viewing audiences, with a phony "Doctor" moniker. She has an earned a Ph.D. in physiology. Whereas she is an expert in the lives of those itsy-bitsy cells in each of our bodies, she is not an expert on the body, mind, and soul. She makes no clarification of this fact anywhere, and by committing the sin of "omission," she knowingly commits a falsehood upon her audiences. This immediate falsehood should cast a dim light on any pronouncements she makes. She can’t even be honest about who she is, yet we’re supposed to follow her thoughts on others.
Ever really listen to or read in one place her typical statements about women in general, about women in the workplace, single moms, non-traditional families, or gay and lesbian citizens? I’m hard pressed to find a group she hasn’t a major beef with. What a strange way for WHTM to reach a major viewing demographic, women 18 – 49, or anyone else.
On women, Schlessinger says (August 13, 1999, syndicated column): "There is little reason left for society to respect women as it once did. Women get knocked up. They don’t marry. They have abortions. They go to bars. They get knocked up again." Oh boy, not much we can hope for here. I guess the men who knocked up the women have no role in the event, although apparently they were in the same bar on the nights in question. Since Schlessinger often quotes the bible as a source of knowledge, maybe we can ask her what to do with our virgin daughters? In the bible it says we can sell them, but I’m not sure what is considered a good price. Maybe she knows. Leviticus 25:44 states that we can buy slaves from the nations that are around us. As one commentator asked: Does this apply to Mexico but not Canada? Another observer has noted that Exodus clearly states that those individuals who work on the Sabbath should be put to death. He wonders if he is morally obligated to kill those people himself? We better call all the malls in the region and warn them about Sunday sales.
On women in the workplace, she says (March 3, 2000, syndicated column): "I believe affirmative action in the area of gender has resulted in jamming many people into roles that are unnatural for them and undesirable for the rest of us." The woman who gave me my last parking ticket, I presume, would disagree, as would my female doctor.
Single mothers get it, too. On "Larry King Live" (May 3, 2000) she said: "I think it’s downright criminal and immoral for any woman to decide — no matter how loving and how nurturing she is — that she is going to intentionally bring a child in the world with no father. It’s wrong … It’s like having a pet." What a dog of a statement that is.
Non-traditional families make her very angry. In a published statement (Parenthood by Proxy, published April, 2000) Schlessinger said: "Indeed there are many who advocate and/or directly profit from the decline of the traditional family, including homosexual activists, radical feminists, welfare advocates, and the child-care industry." I better tell the day care service next door that they’re part of a vast conspiracy to destroy Western culture as we know it.
On lesbians and gay men (You know about lesbians, right? They’re the single biggest fantasy of straight men as reported ad nauseum in pulp mags and reams of university research,) she rolls off her media rocker — we’re "biological errors". What a scary statement. Holocaust time again? I wonder what the mothers of gay and lesbian children think about that one? Just think how many straight men will be upset to know their number one fantasy involves two biological errors.
One fantasy Schlessinger seems incapable of giving up is her "biological error" statement. It must hurt too good. Her radio boss, Premiere Networks, sent the website www.StopDrLaura.com an e-mail a few weeks ago demanding that they remove a quick sound clip of Schlessinger calling homosexuality an error, claiming it was a copyright violation — a charge later determined to be a bogus claim by the web site’s lawyers. Here’s what happened: Schlessinger went on the air August 12 and said opponents were lying about her anti-gay rhetoric. She then went ahead and reiterated that homosexuality is an error in biology. So, in order to be fair to her, the web site put a copy of her latest rant on its site for individuals to judge for themselves. What happened next? Rather than thanking the web site for letting Schlessinger’s own words speak for themselves, they called out the lawyers — because the web site simply told online listeners what she actually said. Seems the only one censoring Laura Schlessinger is her own boss.
Although no one seriously agrees with censorship, apparently Schlessinger’s corporate sponsors are dropping like flies. The stream of advertisers fleeing her radio show has grown to a torrent. The list of advertisers who have dropped Schlessinger includes Radio Shack, Econo Lodge, Saab, Albertson’s, Motel 6, Safeway, Perkin’s Restaurants, Priceline.com, Natrol, Inc, Gateway, Krogers-Texas, DISH Network/Echostar Communications, Sears, Roebuck & Co., Kraft/General Foods, Skytel, Geico Insurance, United Airlines, and Procter & Gamble.
I do wonder what Schlessinger has in mind when she lashes out in what seems to be deep seated anger against, well, almost everyone. Since we know from experience that individuals who feel compelled to uncontrollably criticize others usually are hiding something inside of themselves — overcompensating is the word a real doctor of human experience would use. What is it that poor Laura feels so guilt over? Like Pat Robertson, has she used jet planes paid for with contributions from old ladies on Social Security to transport stolen diamonds from poor African nations? If that’s it, she knows enough to not wear them on the air. Has she viciously manipulated millions of dollars from trusting (in a Christian sense) colleagues, like Rev. Jerry Falwell did with Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker? Like Newt Gingrich, perhaps she was bonking another man (for him a woman) while a previous husband (wife for the chameleon Newt) lie dying in a hospital bed? Like Gingrich, was/is she doing the good thing (to her a bad thing, I guess) with an office staffer? Does her transgression involve a family pet? Whatever it is, it must be something very bad, or very bad to her. How else could she sustain such daily anger against, well, seems like just about all of us.
It will be interesting to see how long WHTM can sustain hate. There is the old high school board crowd in Elizabethtown who sounded a lot like Schlessinger in their failed school code attempted a few years ago. Pennsylvania in general, and Central Pennsylvania in particular, is a hotbed of hate crime and growth for hate groups. Thank you, WHTM and Senator Piccola for being such good corporate and public citizens. Any other forms of hate you’d like to promote — or not take a stand against — please let us know.