Can we talk about race?

Radio show host's entanglement with 'N' word shows difficulty of honest debate

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Bigfoot. The Loch Ness Monster. The Honest Dialogue About Race.

Radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger plans to give up her radio show at the end of the year.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger plans to give up her radio show at the end of the year.

Don't waste your time looking for any of them anytime soon.

This country periodically scours the land for that mythical beast no one has yet described, the Honest Dialogue About Race. It's usually lip service, though, normally coming after someone has lost a job or committed professional suicide.

Enter Dr. Laura, who appears to have done the latter.

Now, if we ever do bag that legendary Honest Dialogue About Race, we certainly don't want the likes of Laura Schlessinger leading it. She tends to cross the line from harsh to abusive. Her knee jerks so quickly you can hear the rush of wind against the microphone. Not what you need, leading a discussion on such a delicate topic.

But her odd and abrupt announcement Tuesday night that she's quitting her nationally syndicated advice show on radio -- over the reaction to her using the "N" word with a caller -- was another one of those "Gee, if only we could have an honest dialogue about race" moments.

Schlessinger -- who earned the title "Dr." with a degree in physiology, not mental health -- used the "N" word to illustrate how often it's used in the black media. The problem is twofold: One, she said it over and over and over, which even she acknowledges was a mistake; two, she's white -- and the conventional wisdom today is that white people should never use the word.

The irony, of course, is that she's absolutely right: The word is ubiquitous in black culture, including music and comedy and, in many instances, everyday conversation. So yes, there is a double standard.

On some level, that double standard is actually quite understandable: The word was used as a contemptible, dispiriting cudgel for so long; the feeling among some is that those who created and wielded the word as a weapon have lost the right to use it. In truth, most of us believe no one should use the word.

But the effect of that perceived double standard is an uneven playing field upon which it's difficult to see eye to eye.

It's imperative we don't give up. Here's hoping we get that honest dialogue someday. A good start would be to listen to each other more than we speak.

Schlessinger claims she's quitting her radio show at the end of the year to "regain my First Amendment rights.

"I want to be able to say what's on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry or some special-interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent," she said on CNN's Larry King Live .

Schlessinger has a nationally syndicated show. She's hardly the poster child for regaining free-speech rights. But her awkward situation does accentuate the fact that it's awfully difficult to have an honest dialogue when you can get your head bitten off for saying the wrong thing -- without even trying.

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Fiat_Lux
16455
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Fiat_Lux 08/20/10 - 12:45 pm
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This USC psych major has,

This USC psych major has, Oh!, so much wisdom. Let's simply be nice to each other, and that's all that matters.

Just how old are you? Eleven?

Fiat_Lux
16455
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Fiat_Lux 08/20/10 - 12:49 pm
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In the uber-critical,

In the uber-critical, hyper-punishing society we live in, it is ever so illuminating to observe who gets punished for unintentionally offending PC sensibilities and who skates after proven immoral and/or criminal behavior.

So many names flood the mind.

TheFederalist
1
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TheFederalist 08/20/10 - 12:54 pm
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So then eel, despite the dig

So then eel, despite the dig about my testesterone level, please explain to me what progress we are making? I am not claiming, as you insinuated, to be the ultimate authority. Simply posting my opinion, but you seem to want to argue, and I know you will correct me if I am wrong, but you contend that we are actually accomplishing something here? What, by continuing to point fingers and accuse each other? Please, enlighten me. Explain how this is helping?

stephr721
204
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stephr721 08/20/10 - 12:59 pm
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What a weak-minded little

What a weak-minded little baby. If you're going to throw out the N-word and dredge up the tired double-standard argument, be prepared to fight. Too bad she can't take even a little bit of what she dishes out. I give it 3 months before she's back on the radio again.

follower
98
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follower 08/20/10 - 12:59 pm
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Double, I don't know if you

Double, I don't know if you are asking me personally in reference to the word "thug" as a description for minorities. My attempt is to always respect those with whom I disagree and avoid words such as "delusional", "idiot", "bigoted", or any personal attack adjectives.

But, if you are asking, a "thug" is anyone of any color that uses intimidation and violence to get their way. I believe every race contains members that fit that description.

Tigger_The_Tiger
0
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Tigger_The_Tiger 08/20/10 - 01:06 pm
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Give it up Fed....if you

Give it up Fed....if you press EEL too much for facts, he/she will just start ignoring you. Trust me on this.

stephr721
204
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stephr721 08/20/10 - 01:14 pm
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If the ACES is really

If the ACES is really dedicated to an "honest dialogue about race," I suggest dedicating some space to the following topics:

- The black unemployment rate is nearly always higher than the country's average, and usually 2x the white rate. Example: July 2010 - blacks: 15.4%, whites: 8.6%. Why?
- According to the Innocence Project, 70% of "criminals" exonerated by DNA testing are minorities. What does that say about our justice system?
- Median net worth for black versus white households has remained virtually unchanged for more than a decade. Why?

Or, you can stick to wondering why white people can't say the N-word. Compelling stuff.

TheFederalist
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TheFederalist 08/20/10 - 01:18 pm
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Well Tigger, as you know, I

Well Tigger, as you know, I love to debate, and she and I have had a few good ones. Since this is strictly about opinions, it would be fascinating to hear her argument, disputing mine, that we are not going to actually accomplish something here. The offender has been punished, and logically we should move on, but no, we continue to bleed, as this is one issue that cuts too deeply to have any meaningful or lasting changes in people's beliefs. I understand that, and all I am saying, is that there are some things that you just can't discuss, either way, without causing hurt feelings, and this is one. Perfectly illustrated by the above post that instead of adding to the discussion, instead is just baiting others to respond to the obvious insuation of injustice, once again, to only one race. I rest my case.

Tigger_The_Tiger
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Tigger_The_Tiger 08/20/10 - 01:17 pm
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If 70% of the inmates are

If 70% of the inmates are black, then what percent would you EXPECT to be exonerated by DNA evidence?

What reason do YOU suggest is responsible for the disparities. Let me guess....they are victims of institutionalized racism....such as Affirmative Action?

TheFederalist
1
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TheFederalist 08/20/10 - 01:19 pm
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It's called, "Race Baiting",

It's called, "Race Baiting", and there are many that are very good at it.

c.james
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c.james 08/20/10 - 01:19 pm
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Ameliaf: WE means all;

Ameliaf: WE means all; everyone, you, me, black, white, brown, yellow; whatever. How did you get white out of that? I feel a lot of attitude based on a preconception that this response was meant to be a shot at only the Black culture. It's a shot at the NEW culture that drives our youth to mimic the words of songs perpetuated by these groups that spew this vulgarity, constantly; Black or White. Just for your information, Rev Al Sharpton has said exactly what I did about leading by example and he said it should start with cleaning up the lyrics. Look at Bill Cosby and Jesse Jackson’s remarks about leading by example. They all agree that in order for this type of ignorance to stop, someone needs to lead the change. Lose the attitude and read every line not between the lines.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 08/20/10 - 01:23 pm
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stephhr721 you can't talk

stephhr721 you can't talk about those issues because you will be called a racist. Even if your intent is to help the situation.

Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton would descend on Augusta like flies on....well you know.

soldout
1283
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soldout 08/20/10 - 01:21 pm
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In the 60s I thought the race

In the 60s I thought the race problems was solved and in the military all was well. At some point I saw this desire for blacks to get back to their roots and there must be some bad roots. Whites were willing to move on but the black race just can't let the past go and every year things get worse. The blacks who get ahead are told they are acting white and other blacks hate that or one black thinks another black isn't black enough and it goes on and on. The whites can forget about fixing this problem because only the blacks can fix it. I believe the root cause is the lack of love between blacks and their poor treatment of each other. Until that changes there is no hope. I have had plenty of black friends and they were the ones who told me this was the problem and there was nothing I could do about it. It is a spiritual thing and only when there is a heart change will there be a change. I hope there is a change before there is total self destruction by this race. If satan can get you to hate he can destroy you.

TheFederalist
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TheFederalist 08/20/10 - 01:23 pm
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Ok, you good folks continue

Ok, you good folks continue to point fingers and denigrate each other, as this topic, sadly, will have to die a slow, painful death, until the next time it rears it's ugly head. Have fun. L8tr!

follower
98
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follower 08/20/10 - 01:26 pm
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Stephr, these statictics are

Stephr, these statictics are posted on a regular basis. What is your point? If you are saying that we are worrying about straining a gnat instead of swallowing a camel, I agree. Would you expand on your comment if implying more?

stephr721
204
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stephr721 08/20/10 - 01:46 pm
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"If 70% of the inmates are

"If 70% of the inmates are black, then what percent would you EXPECT to be exonerated by DNA evidence?"

Precisely my point, Chillen. Maybe 70% of the inmates SHOULDN'T be minorities (not just black, as you assumed). Why were they falsely charged and incarcerated in the first place? There's a million possible reasons, and if I were a journalist instead of a consultant, I'd research and write you an article about it. My point is not to race bait, it's to challenge the ACES to put their money where there mouth is about honest racial dialogue. There are more engaging topics than the N-word.

"stephhr721 you can't talk about those issues because you will be called a racist. Even if your intent is to help the situation."

So what? If you believe in something, take your stand, make your argument and deal with the criticism. Don't take your toys and leave the sandbox because someone calls you a name. Who gives a flying frak about Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton anyway?

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 08/20/10 - 02:03 pm
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TheFed: You ask if these

TheFed: You ask if these exchanges are only about already settled opinions, what are we accomplishing? Most of the time, not much.
But I do read, and listen to, thoughtful conservatives quite often, who
do occasionally alter my views. Most recently, for example, I have been reading the thread of columns of Ross Douthat regarding the NYC mosque. He makes arguments that are reasonable and worth considering. Most importantly, he challenges me to examine my own view. I would be interested in knowing how many of the most vocal conservatives here ever challenge themselves beyond tuning in to their daily fix of Beck, Hannity, and co. I do have interesting exchanges in this forum with a small handful of folks, including you (don't get a big head now), but most of the time there is much more heat here than light (and I spew my share of heat). it's fun, in a warped sort of way, but not in the least helpful in what you describe as "making progress." One more shot at Dr. L: she has not been "punished," in my view. She has quit on her own accord. What a laugh; she believes she will be regaining any meaningful sort of "Free Speech" by retreating to her internet blog and her books where she will be almost entirely insulated from the marketplace which makes First Amendment freedoms mean something.

TrukinRanger
1748
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TrukinRanger 08/20/10 - 02:14 pm
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Laura (not a Doctor)... Is
Unpublished

Laura (not a Doctor)... Is and has always been a biggot. She doesn't like homosexuals, blacks, browns, single mothers or any other of the "undesirables". However, she has the right to say what she feels.... but saying the "N" word 11 times while on the air/phone with a black woman is unacceptable. If she had said it only once, just for people to hear it... then fine, but 11 times was excessive and hurtful.

Nightwing
0
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Nightwing 08/20/10 - 02:15 pm
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Until the change takes place

Until the change takes place in our hearts, no change can take place outward.

ron_rlw
1
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ron_rlw 08/20/10 - 02:20 pm
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No ... The best way to change

No ... The best way to change your heart is to start by changing your actions. Changing your heart first is very difficult ... changing your actions is much easier and has you form new habits through your new action you will also find that your attitude is changing also.

TheFederalist
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TheFederalist 08/20/10 - 02:29 pm
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Well, thank you eel, as I do

Well, thank you eel, as I do respect your opinions, as well. However, I do not contend that this issue is in any way settled. In fact, just the inverse, that it never will be settled. 

I submit that the deeply held feelings, by both sides, developed by generations of fear, mistrust and anger, are quite entrenched now, and have evolved over time to resemble an inherited trait. We are not going to change these here, or by endless heated discussion and finger pointing. No, sadly, this issue, IMHO, will continue to fester, just below the surface, just waiting for another Dr. Laura to make another similar blunder, and it will all begin anew. 

Better we should simply try to understand that we are all imperfect, and try our best to be an example, instead of an instigator. Some things are just too painful, the hurt too deep, the emotional damages too severe to even rationalize, let alone debate.

ron_rlw
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ron_rlw 08/20/10 - 02:37 pm
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Some talk on here as there is

Some talk on here as there is no hope and that no progress has been made over the 50 years. However, if you believe that then either you haven't been paying any attention or you're just not old enough to know what changes have come about in race relations. Maybe you need to go talk to the senior citizen about the recent history ... maybe a senior citizen of a race that isn't your own.

follower
98
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follower 08/20/10 - 02:44 pm
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Ron, allow a disagreement on

Ron, allow a disagreement on whether a change of heart/actions should be first.

Would you rather your spouse present you a gift because of habit or because in her/his heart, you're the "significant" other in her/his life?

Seeing others as significant and having value is the first step. You dont' harm those you love, and you can only love with a changed heart. The actions will be a result of a changed heart.

seenitB4
98911
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seenitB4 08/20/10 - 02:55 pm
0
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Fed...You are right

Fed...You are right again....the answer is no, we still can't talk about it.

TheFederalist
1
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TheFederalist 08/20/10 - 02:57 pm
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Ron, please do not think for

Ron, please do not think for a second that I am saying that no progress has been made over the last 50 years. How in earth did you get that impression?

No, in fact lots of progress has been made, and lots more will be, but my point is similar to the one follower is trying to make. That hearts must change before true reconciliation of the races is to finally be achieved.

Perhaps the following video will illustrate my position in a clearer way. The video is from a news documentary, that dealt with deeply and long held racial convictions, and dealing with them in the future. I was deeply moved by these young children and their responses, that perfectly shows what I am talking about. These young children should never feel that they are totally inferior, simply because of their skin pigmentation, but they do, and that is not something that can be fixed overnight. Please watch, and let me know what you think, and how long you think it will be before these stereotypes are finally put to rest?

I must admit that this video breaks this old man's heart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG7U1QsUd1g&feature=related

ron_rlw
1
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ron_rlw 08/20/10 - 02:58 pm
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follower ... appearently I'm

follower ... appearently I'm not allowed to have an oposing view point.

However to get back to your example ... let me change it just a bit ... since we are talking about race ... I'll use race instead.

When I was a boy in a town in North Ga and attended Jr high when the schools were de-segregated. This was a change of action without really a change in the attitude of most of the folks ... white and black. However, over the years this change in action as become accepted as the norm and even most of those that opposite it in the beginning not only accept it, but consider going back to the old way as wrong. Now I'll rephase your question ... would you have perferred that the school remained segregated until the attitudes of the whites changed or was it better to change their actions and then as a result slowly see a change in their attitudes?

TheFederalist
1
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TheFederalist 08/20/10 - 03:00 pm
0
0
ron_rlw
1
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ron_rlw 08/20/10 - 03:08 pm
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Federal ... because you said

Federal ... because you said "that it never will be settled" ... never is a very long time. As you said we have made progress ... we haven't made enough progress but we are moving mostly in the right direction and over the last 50 or 60 years we've made consitable progress.

What you seem to be avocating is that we all must just wake one morning loving one another ... this just isn't realistic ... I wish it was. However, by changing our actions we will continue moving in the right direction. Note I not say that a change of heart isn't necessary because to get to where we should be it is a mandatory step, but it is also the hardest step and almost impossible while we refuse to change our actions. And by the way ... both sides needs to work on this.

dougk
3
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dougk 08/20/10 - 03:12 pm
0
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Heartbreaking is the right
Unpublished

Heartbreaking is the right word, Fed.

TheFederalist
1
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TheFederalist 08/20/10 - 03:15 pm
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Ok Ron, I bow to your logic,

Ok Ron, I bow to your logic, and retract the word never. However the main point I feel is still valid. You do not change hearts by bickering and pointing fingers. I think we are still a long way from truly changing hearts, but I am certain that it will happen someday, and I pray it is sooner than later.

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