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Dr. Laura in denial

The 1st Amendment is just fine: Schlessinger exercised her right to use a racial slur; offended listeners exercised their right to criticize her for it.

August 20, 2010

Who knew that Laura Schlessinger was so thin-skinned? After all, this is a woman who has relished her perch as a radio shock jock. In her 30 years on the air she has offended many, blaming women for their husbands' affairs and referring to gay people as "biological errors." Even friendly callers often get a piece of her mind. So it's a bit surprising that a fairly predictable reaction to her enthusiastic use of a racial slur has sent her scurrying out of the kitchen, so to speak.

Schlessinger, better known as Dr. Laura, announced Tuesday that she was leaving her show because she wants her 1st Amendment rights back. If only Dr. Laura could give Dr. Laura one of her famous tongue-lashings. Since she's moping, we'll try: The 1st Amendment is just fine. Schlessinger exercised her right to use a racial slur when criticizing her caller, and offended listeners exercised their right to criticize her for it. That's America.

Or perhaps Schlessinger honestly does not understand the nature of the protections she says are being denied her. Here is the pertinent text: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." It does not guarantee that the world will agree with radio hosts, only that the government will not censor them. The government didn't demand Schlessinger's ouster; listeners did. She may not like it, but she doesn't have a constitutional right to be free from criticism.

Sarah Palin, apparently, also is confused. She tweeted: "Dr. Laura: don't retreat…reload. (Steps aside bc her 1st amend. rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence isn't American, not fair.)" It's frightening that a former governor and candidate for the vice presidency thinks that public dissent is either un-American or unconstitutional.

Schlessinger isn't quitting because she can't say what's on her mind; she just couldn't take the heat after she did it. To paraphrase her advice to the caller whose questions launched her racial tirade, she should just stop being so sensitive.

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