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August 15, 2010

A Few Bones to Pick

Because the blog princess is feeling a mite cantankerous this week, she's going to try something new (albeit with a bit of trepidation). Every week I read things that make my head explode. A good 98 or 99% of the time, I don't write about them - mostly because I hate blog wars and can rarely understand why so many bloggers take disagreements personally rather than viewing them as a jumping off point for discussion or an opportunity to sharpen their arguments.

When I do argue with another blogger, it tends to be someone I like and/or someone who, in my estimation, is unlikely to take disagreements to heart. In that vein, I'm going to pick on two bloggers I like this week! The first is my old friend and Cycle of Violence adversary, Tigerhawk. Earlier this week, he commented on the Laura Schlessinger brouhaha:

The lefty blogs are in high dudgeon over Laura Schlessinger's repeated use of the "N" word in an exchange with an African-American woman who called in with a genuine issue, her frustration -- which sounds legitimate to me -- that her white husband would not stand up for her when his friends and family make "racist" or at least race-based comments. Conservatives should object just as loudly. Dr. Laura's rant is brain dead stuff from beginning to end. Forget the N-word baiting. Where's the sense or compassion in advising people to avoid "marrying out of their race" if they do not want suffer the indignity of dumbshit generalizations? Huh? You do not have to be a politically-correct academic liberal to think that is both idiotic and mean. And, by the way, it is bad for America, which could use a little more interracial marriage.

Makes me embarrassed to be a conservative.

Whatever one thinks of Dr. Laura's comments (not having read the transcript yet, it sounds as though her use of the much ballyhoo'd 'n-word' was gratuitously offensive, but I agree that people who can't defend themselves against "dumbsh**", racially insensitive remarks probably should not marry outside their own race) I'm mystified by the suggestion that she in any way represents conservatism as a movement.

For whatever it may be worth, years ago I was on the other side of this woman's situation. I dated outside my own race, and it wasn't my white friends who made the racially insensitive remarks. It was his black friends.

And he didn't defend me, either. But then I never expected him to. Dating him was my decision and I was perfectly capable of defending myself.

One of the benefits of being an adult is that adults can do as we please within reason. Unfortunately, the freedom to act doesn't imply freedom from ignorance, criticism, or hurtful remarks. It also doesn't guarantee that others will approve of your choices. Adults who can't deal with ignorant remarks have two choices: stop associating with ignorant people or learn to stand up for yourself.

But I have a more serious beef with TH's reaction. Why should statements made by a radio talk show host make anyone feel embarrassed to be conservative?

What are we saying? That every utterance by a radio talk show host is hereby incorporated by reference into the core belief system of their chosen political party? Given the plethora of conflicting opinions on offer from both parties these days, that could be confusing (to say the least).

That moral people feel ashamed any time someone who shares some of their beliefs says something stupid (even if they don't share those beliefs, and even if they have absolutely no connection to that person)? If we accept that principle, then Rev. Wright's racist rants should make all progressives ashamed.

I wonder how willing the lefty sites TH links to would be to accept that reasoning? My guess is, "Not very".

Update: OK, now I've read the transcript of Schlessinger's remarks and, if anything, I'm more confused than ever. Was she blunt to the point of insensitivity? Certainly, but then that's her trademark. She didn't treat the caller any differently than she treats any caller. And the use of the 'n-word' was limited to stating that black comedians use it all the time. Is that untrue?

Anyone looking for sensitivity from Dr. Laura clearly hasn't paid their attention bill. For the life of me, I can't see how the caller was treated any differently than Dr. Laura treats callers of other races. It seems to me that the underlying complaint relies on the same arguments used to justify hate crime laws. Somehow, when a person of color voluntarily consults a controversial talk show host who is famous for her bluntness and straight talk and gets... the same brand of blunt, straight talk every other caller gets ... this should make all right thinking righties embarrassed?

It seems to me that if you have a problem with the way this caller was treated you should have a problem with the way Schlessinger treats all callers.

Next bone coming up in a moment... below the fold.


Posted by Cassandra at August 15, 2010 09:41 AM

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Why should statements made by a radio talk show host make anyone feel embarrassed to be conservative?

There are enough people out there on both sides of the fence making idiotic statements. Life is too short to spend all your time being embarrassed to be human...

Posted by: BillT at August 15, 2010 01:15 PM

I take some issue with some of your issue-taking with TH. I read (OK, skimmed) his blog on this subject; I don't bother with Schlessinger's stuff--that's just a waste of my bandwidth. My issues with your issues are two:

1) somewhat OT: I dated outside my own race, and it wasn't my white friends who made the racially insensitive remarks. It was his black friends.

And he didn't defend me, either. But then I never expected him to. Dating him was my decision and I was perfectly capable of defending myself.

Of course he should have defended you, unless he was just in the relationship for his personal pleasures. If he was committed to you at all, he owed you the courage and integrity of defending you. Nothing in this obviates your obligation to defend yourself--it should have been a joint effort. If you're attacked on the street today, would you expect your husband to stand aside and let the little woman fend for herself? My wife and I defend each other and ourselves when one is attacked, whether metaphorically or physically. Our relationship makes us a team, not two individuals happening to be on the same path for a bit.

2) What are we saying? That every utterance by a radio talk show host is hereby incorporated by reference into the core belief system of their chosen political party?....That moral people feel ashamed any time someone who shares some of their beliefs says something stupid (even if they don't share those beliefs, and even if they have absolutely no connection to that person)? If we accept that principle, then Rev. Wright's racist rants should make all progressives ashamed.

You present a false dichotomy. This isn't about whether one represents a group and therefore the group should be embarrassed by the remarks of the one. This is about the level of stupidity and bigotry in the remarks that should make all of us feel repelled and embarrassed--and moved to respond to them--even when they're from the fringe of a group, or not from (my) group at all.

You bet all progressives should be ashamed of Wright's racist rants. So should all libertarians, conservatives, and LGM present in this nation. All decent Americans should be ashamed of those rants--beginning, I think, with those who sat passively in his pews listening, without response, to his spew.

I haven't read Schlessinger's stuff, so I don't know whether her remarks truly were shameful. But on the assumption that they were, all conservatives should be ashamed of them. As should all progressives, libertarians, LGM, et al.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 15, 2010 02:29 PM

Too bad there's no after-post editing facility. My imperfect proofreading missed my error: In my Point 1), the short para beginning "And he didn't defend me...." also should have been in italics, as part of the cite opening my point.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 15, 2010 02:33 PM

Eric you really should read the transcript. Before reading it, I was inclined to agree that she must have been out of line. After reading it, I was confused about what she could have said that should have embarrassed all conservatives, all human beings, or whatever.

It just wasn't that bad.

re: You present a false dichotomy. This isn't about whether one represents a group and therefore the group should be embarrassed by the remarks of the one.

I don't agree. When someone says, "That makes me embarrassed to be a conservative", not "It makes me embarrassed to be a human being," that ties what she said to being conservative, not being human.

If Michael Moore had said the same thing and (though some bizarre twist of fate) lefty blogs were excoriating him about having said it, would TH have said, "That makes me embarrassed to be a conservative"?

re: my old boyfriend.

I attributed his reluctance to a combination of being very young (16) and being something of an outlier (he was a straight A student, Merit scholar, very affluent family). The friends of his who treated me badly didn't fit that description. FWIW, the episode did make me decide that our relationship didn't have a future but I didn't take it personally. It was one of the few times a guy really hurt me, but even at 15 I was able to see the awkward position he was in and moreover, to see that it wasn't all about me.

From reading the transcript, the woman was upset about people asking questions that were dumb but hardly racist. I really think you need to read the transcript.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2010 02:53 PM

Maybe I should explain a bit more.

I wasn't ever "attacked" by anyone. I was treated rudely and his friends did try to get him to ditch me and date a girl more in line with their preferences (i.e., a black girl). He didn't do a great job of standing up to them.

He did, when confronted with what he was allowing to happen, apologize to me and I believe he genuinely felt bad about the episode. This is hardly the first time a teenaged boy treated his girlfriend with what I'd call a lack of consideration or sensitivity.

If this woman's complaints were valid (i.e., her husband's friends/family repeatedly made racially insensitive - as opposed to inquisitive - remarks to her in the presence of her husband, then of course he ought to object). It's not clear to me from that transcript that that's what happened, though. And it begs the question of why she would marry a guy like that.

If he's genuinely that clueless or his friends/family are genuinely that rude, you would think she might have noticed this BEFORE they got married. I find it hard to believe this supposedly habitual behavior spontaneously began after they were married. But maybe I'm missing something.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2010 03:00 PM

Eric you really should read the transcript....
It just wasn't that bad.

That may well be the case. It's why I phrased my attitude toward all being embarrassed as being conditioned on her remarks being shameful. Of course, if they were not, than no embarrassment by others would be warranted.


When someone says, "That makes me embarrassed to be a conservative", not "It makes me embarrassed to be a human being," that ties what she said to being conservative, not being human.

A valid point. My remarks here were predicated on my not having read TH's remarks so narrowly; I viewed them as just a literary device to make a point. Perhaps I am unjustified in reading him more broadly in this.


re: my old boyfriend.

As you point out, he was 16. Old enough to know what he was doing (or not doing) and to do it (or not), anyway. Maybe I'm too harsh on a teenager, but if we don't hold people to standards early, it's too late ever to hold them to standards. It is a Hobbesian world in which we exist, no matter the prettiness of the veneer of civilization. My remarks here, though, were centered less on his level of maturity and more on you apparently feeling obligated to defend yourself all by yourself, with no support from someone purporting to be in a relationship with you. The awkwardness of his position really isn't relevant, if he's truly in the relationship, and the mutual support/defense of the two in a relationship is not about one or the other party.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 15, 2010 03:09 PM

I wasn't ever "attacked" by anyone. I was treated rudely....

This was how I took it--that you were "just" being treated badly. My example of your husband was unclear.


He did, when confronted with what he was allowing to happen, apologize to me and I believe he genuinely felt bad....

This does shed a new light on things. No one does well the first time out of the box, that's why we train and have schools.


It's not clear to me from that transcript.... And it begs the question of why she would marry a guy like that.

I agree, there are legitimate questions about the woman's situation. However, I've been involved with enough abused women that I can see how a situation lacking clarity at the outset--or that seemed clear at the outset--can have devolved to the point of accepting bad (if not abusive) behavior and not easily recognizing that there are alternatives. None of which excuses the husband from not defending his wife. There are no such excuses.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 15, 2010 03:18 PM

It was really an odd situation - pretty much unique in all my years of dating.

Maybe I am weird, Eric. My husband is very protective of me but I can honestly say that up until the past 3 years or so I've always sort of assumed that it was primarily my responsibility to take care of myself. This is not to say that I don't appreciate his willingness to protect me and care for me.

It's just that I've never taken it for granted, or even necessarily considered it a necessary condition of our relationship. Maybe that's why I never took the repeated deployments personally - I always assumed I'd have to take care of myself whether I was married or single. So when I hear military wives saying they feel abandoned I find that hard to relate to.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2010 03:21 PM

I've been involved with enough abused women that I can see how a situation lacking clarity at the outset--or that seemed clear at the outset--can have devolved to the point of accepting bad (if not abusive) behavior and not easily recognizing that there are alternatives.

Well, I will buy off on that (though again I tend to see that as a male/female issue rather than a racial one).

re: my boyfriend. He really was a good guy. We were both very naive and I think he was put in a difficult position that many teens would have had trouble negotiating. When I was younger, I saw boys treat girls they liked badly b/c their friends didn't think they were "hot" enough (i.e., the boy really liked the girl but she had some stupid "defect" in the eyes of his male friends). I also saw girls do the same thing.

Peer pressure can be a very ugly thing. FWIW, we remained friends for several years, even after I moved to another state. I hope he had a good life - I am sure he has made some lucky woman a wonderful wife. His parents were fine people and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree :P

Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2010 03:26 PM

Don't you mean a wonderful husband? ;-)

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 15, 2010 03:40 PM

Heh :)

Yeah - I was watching Transformers while typing that comment. Multitasking isn't my strong suit!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2010 04:01 PM

Maybe I am weird, Eric. My husband is very protective of me but I can honestly say that up until the past 3 years or so I've always sort of assumed that it was primarily my responsibility to take care of myself. This is not to say that I don't appreciate his willingness to protect me and care for me.

Nah--you're not weird. It is primarily your responsibility to take care of yourself. Conflicts involving you should have you as the, shall I call it, team lead in the defense of you. But your husband--or that boyfriend, once he learned better; I've withdrawn my earlier criticism of him, given the later information--should be in there supporting you and your effort with everything he's got. It's not an either/or proposition. When you're the aggrieved party, you have the lead in how the offense should be handled, but you should be able to take for granted his all-out support. Recall I claimed in an earlier thread that marriage (and I extend that to any serious relationship) is a partnership. That includes times when providing that support is inconvenient, even if that support may be only moral support because that significant other is halfway around the world supporting the rest of us, too.

As for military wives feeling abandoned, that can either be quite a lot of whining and feeling sorry for themselves, or it can be just some venting. You know the particular wives better than I do. But speaking as someone who did the "abandoning" while I was on active duty, and as someone who is abandoned (including today) as my wife travels related to her work, I can say with confidence that the separation can occasionally get next to the most stable and understanding of us sometimes.

As for the abused wife thing, that's not a racial issue; although race can potentiate the problems already extant. I'm not even sure that the abuse is a male/female thing, anymore than rape is a sex thing. It's more about insecurity (to the point of cowardice), ego, and power. The abuse and the rape are just tools for executing the need to exercise power and control.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 15, 2010 05:28 PM

Cass, back then, dating out of one's race was a new thing. I grew up in liberal California, and believe me, it was easier for gays to out themselves than it was for interracial relationships to flourish. Not that they didn't, but it was a lot harder to accept similarities between two people than it was the differences between races. Now, people seem to be more focused on character. The Tea Party vid you put up last week shows that. I take that as a positive sign.

Posted by: Cricket at August 15, 2010 11:34 PM

I agree with everything you're saying, Eric :)

I can say with confidence that the separation can occasionally get next to the most stable and understanding of us sometimes.

Amen, brother :p

I didn't say it was always easy! I had a hard time with this last deployment. Iraq wasn't too bad except for the time right around when my first grandson was born (Oct-Christmas). I was traveling myself almost every week so I didn't have time to be lonely.

I don't mean to sound unsympathetic to this woman's plight, because I'm not.

I suppose I'm just confused. Dr. Laura's whole "shtick" is that someone calls her up with a personal problem, she listens for about half a second and then proceeds to tell the caller not to be such a jackwagon before pointing out all the things the caller is doing that contribute to the problem. So it's hard for me to imagine anyone calling her up and expecting tea and sympathy. What she's known for is often brutally honest assessments that focus on what the caller can do about the situation rather than what the other person has done.

Of course none of this excuses the other person in the relationship, but as the old saying goes, "No one can take advantage of you without your permission."

I find her style abrasive, but I have to admit that my own response to problems isn't all that different. I get all wrapped around the axle just like anyone else, but at some point I generally stop, take a step back from the problem, and ask "OK, obviously you can't control the other person's behavior but you can certainly control your own. What are you doing to contribute to this situation?"

To me, that's not blaming. It's actually a helpful tactic that puts me back in the driver's seat (to the extent that anyone is ever completely in the driver's seat).

I've never seen an interpersonal problem that didn't have two sides to it. Learning to ask myself what I'm doing to contribute to the problem has been pretty good for my marriage. Stepping back and looking at your own responses from someone else's perspective (or just a neutral perspective) can really transform the way you look at life and often deflates the delusions most of us have about how wonderful we are and how unappreciative everyone else is of Our Extreme Wonderfulness :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 16, 2010 07:35 AM

I've never cared for Dr. Laura. Anyone who calls her show deserves exactly what they get (and please... if you're calling her show and don't know what she's about, why are you calling her in the first place?). But while Dr. Laura made a valid point, she poisoned the well by being a jackwagon herself. I was discussing this with some friends last night and my conclusion was, had she been less of a jackwagon herself (good word Cass!) I think she might have had a leg to stand on. But she is no more capable of that than I am of treating people the way she does.

I'm not embarrassed by her actions, nor were my friends (who happen to be on the more liberal side) particularly inclined to tar the right with what she said. She's an adult, she's responsible for her own words, and no one else is.

Yes, she's a rude, obnoxious, odious harridan who as far as I can tell services a clientele of masochists. But what else do you expect out of her? Anyone who's sat through one of her shows knows this. But to me, the only real problem with what she did was to taint the discussion about the word itself. Her base point was dead on correct, albeit presented insensitively (no surprise there), but because she KEPT using the word in the manner she did, she's not made the discussion about the word, but about her. And that's the real shame of it.

Posted by: MikeD at August 16, 2010 09:35 AM

I listened to her show a few times when we lived in Cali because it came on at a time when I tended to be in the car. Like you, I found her absolute confidence that she is right to be annoying and often insensitive.

I also found myself agreeing with her on more than one occasion. It's just that I would have been gentler about making the point if I were in her position.

I was often puzzled as to why callers had chosen to consult her. They would call and trot out precisely the kinds of excuses and self-pitying rhetoric Dr. Laura feeds on, and predictably she would pop their self pity and rationalizations with her characteristic bluntness. So one wonders: what did they expect, and perhaps, "Is this something they already knew but needed to hear?".

I think that's the framework within which I saw this situation - a caller who perhaps already knows her husband isn't tempermentally inclined to ride in on a white horse and rescue her but can't quite face that fact?

I agree with Eric that it would have been nice if he had taken up for her if she's really all that offended by being asked about what black people like. The odd thing, though, is that this is yet another instance where it's perfectly fine for blacks to invoke racial and cultural stereotypes but if whites imply that those stereotypes exist, somehow they're racist?

I'm reminded of years ago when DC Mayor Williams visited a local neighborhood. The denizens were quick to criticize him for "not eating fried chicken and watermelon". Can you imagine if a white person had said the same thing?

Another funny story my Dad likes to tell occurred back in the 1970s when the Navy (and the entire military) was having some pretty serious discipline and race issues. He was the commanding officer of a destroyer and a group of black sailors came to him all in a lather demanding that they be served "soul food".

"OK", my Dad said. "What is soul food? Give me some examples and we'll see what we can do".

They couldn't come up with any :p

I remember when I was growing up, reading about parents who carefully scrutinized the family of a prospective bride or bridegroom. The idea was that one ought to marry someone from a family with similar values and background.

I can recall at the time that I thought this narrow minded and stupid. From the standpoint of 3 decades of marriage, though, I now believe it's actually pretty smart.

Any marriage blends two families, each with their own history, traditions, values, culture. The closer the families, the easier it will be for the new couple to blend their respective heritage into a cohesive new family structure. It is easier for them to understand each other and conflicts are diminished. This was definitely true of my marriage - we were both from Navy families with very similar values so deployments were understood and I didn't have to learn about military life and culture: I had been raised that way.

Even when a couple come from a similar background, families can and do say insensitive things (often without meaning to). When a couple are of different races, socioeconomic backgrounds, or religions these innocent and normal remarks are often attributed to malice when in fact they are just typical human cluelessness.

Just my two cents.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 16, 2010 10:07 AM

I've listened to the audio of Dr. Laura's discussion, and here are my thoughts:

1. She had a good point in that blacks use the n-word and show other signs of disrespect towards each other in ways that would not be acceptable in any other part of society. It would be like me addressing everyone I meet as "Hey a**hole", every time. I could claim that it's just joshing, and that I'm just being familiar. But it doesn't matter, because regardless of what I intended, that isn't the way it comes across. Words have meanings.

2. In the discussion in which Dr. Laura brought it up, I thought the point was out of context. However...

3. That really doesn't matter, since the mainstream media was bound to take it and twist it regardless of how well explained or in-context Dr. Laura's use of the word was. If you are a conservative, you bear original sin in the MSM's eyes.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at August 16, 2010 10:09 AM

Almost laughed out loud at your use of the term "jackwagon". It got me thinking about that Geico commercial with R. Lee Ermey playing a therapist and it hit me, Dr. Laura is R. Lee Ermey with a high voice and a skirt. This little blow up probably goes a long way towards explaining why she is a radio talk show host and not a practicing therapist.

Posted by: Rob Smith at August 16, 2010 12:27 PM

Before reading it, I was inclined to agree that she must have been out of line.

That's what propaganda is supposed to do. It gives people the idea that their feelings are their own. In actuality, those emotions were conjured up by a sophisticated campaign of word messaging and tone massaging. It is very cost effective. Because it can't be traced, most people end up believing in it forever and never check their assumptions, and it doesn't cost much in comparison to actually producing a product.

Until you see the truth for yourself and decide for yourself, using direct or second hand information, you aren't judging anything yourself.

I really think you need to read the transcript.

people don't want to read the script. They want to get fed propaganda, cause it tastes good. And it's free. People like free stuff.

Of course, if they were not, than no embarrassment by others would be warranted.

It is too late. Once a person believes in propaganda and acts upon it, that action becomes a permanent imprint upon reality and thus affects everybody else's perceptions. A journalist that gets kidnapped and says publicly on tv that Muslims are good and treated her well, can't reverse the damage afterwards by saying she was lying. Propaganda was never designed to allow truth to get in the way of power.

Even the appearance of believing in propaganda, allows the propagandist to use that position to convince 10s of others that were on the fence.

Maybe I'm too harsh on a teenager, but if we don't hold people to standards early, it's too late ever to hold them to standards.

He was getting held to standards early. It's called "not being white" and a race traitor standard.

e were both very naive and I think he was put in a difficult position that many teens would have had trouble negotiating.

He didn't have a very high social standing amongst his peer group. If he simply broke a finger for every time his friends said "white", they'd have shut the hell up and disappeared when he told them to when you were around. Terror is a very effective force multiplier when ascending the social hierarchy amongst certain socio-economic groups.

(i.e., the boy really liked the girl but she had some stupid "defect" in the eyes of his male friends). I also saw girls do the same thing.

And in both situations I would say that they were trying to one up their buddy, who they were envious and jealous of because they had a boy/girl friend and they didn't. So they wanted to bring em down a notch by noticing imperfections and attempt to socially intimidate by indirect methods.

If you are a conservative, you bear original sin in the MSM's eyes.

There is no free will in the Left's Utopia. You are all slaves or soon to be slaves, in their eyes.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 16, 2010 12:52 PM

Dr. Laura's whole "shtick" is that someone calls her up with a personal problem, she listens for about half a second and then proceeds to tell the caller not to be such a jackwagon....

This is a large part of the problem I have with Schlessinger--her shrillness, her willingness to jump to conclusions, and her willingness a priori to find fault with the victim for being a victim. If your "half a second" description isn't just exaggeration to make a point (and it's my impression that it's an accurate description--I have listened to her enough to arrive at my earlier "waste of bandwidth" canard), she's not listening, and so she has no basis to launch into her attacks on the victims for being victims. She may be right, but that would be coincidental. In fact, victims nearly always contribute to their status, and they _always_ have choices, but it's generally more productive to lead them to their choices, not make them feel like dumbs**ts for not having seen those choices themselves.

No, rather, Schlessinger's schtick is the abrasiveness itself. She thinks it gets her ratings. That she's still on the air demonstrates that she's at least partially right.

As an aside, it's not tea and sympathy that does it for me--I need beer and pizza. And oatmeal cookies with chocolate ships and raisins.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 16, 2010 01:04 PM

Lol, Schless whatever left radio.

Score one for proper utilization of Leftist propaganda.

The Left will become emboldened and carry the fight to more conservative radio hosts. Especially the ones you like.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 18, 2010 02:59 PM

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