Dr. Laura learns there are consequences to nasty on-the-job behavior

If it's another day, there must be at least one incendiary remark hitting the airwaves and interwebs in a (truly) vain attempt to grab a piece of this strange 24/7 news cycle we have landed in. So, sure, it's not so surprising that Dr. Laura Schlessinger rose to the top of the news heap with her repeated use of the N-word to an African-American caller on her radio show this week. What is surprising is that her racially charged words in the name of free speech led to her resignation from her radio helm after a 16-year syndicated-show run.

Consequences to nasty behavior on the job, what a concept.

I'm a big fan of free speech, but I don't for a minute believe that that is what Dr. Laura was championing when she spewed the N-word three times, then three times again to a calm, aghast caller. It was about honing her firebrand image, saying the opposite of what a reasonable, thinking, caring person might say because reasonable, thinking, and caring doesn't get any attention in today's partisan-news, (un)reality-TV-driven world. Only this time, people did more than shake their heads. Groups including Media Matters, Unity Journalists of Color, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and the Women's Media Center used their First Amendment rights to complain about her on-air statements and reach out to advertisers about organizing a boycott of their clients' products because of Dr. Laura's behavior.

Dr. Laura is leaving radio behind, but she plans to continue spreading her often-bigoted brand of commentary on the Web and in more books. So her fans will have plenty of ways to hear what she has to say. Perhaps, they can hope for better than these gems:

--In 1999, she called homosexuality "a biological error that inhibits you from relating normally to the opposite sex."
--In the same year, she likened the use of the word "gooks" for Vietnamese agents to the use of any other words besides homosexual because: "When we have the word homosexual, we are clarifying the dysfunction, the deviancy, the reality."
--A banner year, 1999, because it's the same year she told a concerned parent of an autistic child over the phone with no true knowledge of the child that her son may not be "fixable" -- "In which case you're going to have to think of some kind of placement."
--The fact that many of these comments are more than 10 years old may say something about her waning popularity, but more recently, in 2008, she placed much of the blame for Eliot Spitzer's public betrayal of his wife on his wife in a Today Show interview: "When the wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings, sexually, personally, to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like her hero, he's very susceptible to the charm of some other woman making him feel what he needs."

Thanks to the First Amendment, Dr. Laura will always have the right to say what's on her mind, and those of us who are not all that interested in hearing the hate beneath the words have the right to not be all that concerned about the next phase of her career.


[Image: Getty Editorial/Frederick M. Brown]