The N-Word and Beyond: How Far Is Too Far?
On an August 10th episode of the Dr. Laura Program, a black identified caller sought the advice of host Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The caller wanted to know how to address racist remarks made by her white husband’s friends and family, which included using the N-word. Instead of providing the caller with reasonable advice on how to handle the situation, Dr. Laura instead accused the caller of being humorless, and proceeded to use the N-word 11 times in attempting to prove her point. The caller was taken aback by Dr. Laura actually being able to use the N-word in its full form.
If you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race.
Of course, Dr. Laura was heavily reprimanded, which led to a public apology and the end of her talk show (to give her time to “regain [her] First Amendment rights”).
At the August 15th roast of David Hasselhoff, Lisa Lampanelli (“Queen of Mean”) reminds us “It’s a roast assholes!” during rants about the holocaust, blacks, and Roger Ebert’s surgeries for cancer, among other things. About blacks she says:
[David Hasselhoff’s] liver was so black and bloated it could have starred in Precious. David Hasselhof’s liver is so black it’s f***ing two of the Kardashian sisters. Uhm, look at that old wrinkled brown thing over there. Is that George Hamilton or Oprah Winfrey’s (bleep)…In fact George, you are the closest thing we have to a black on the dais. Oh, that’s not because of your skin color. It’s because you are a terrible father and you haven’t worked in twenty years.
And this is where it gets touchy. In the United States we can say anything we want as we are protected by the First Amendment, but that does not mean that it will or should always be tolerated. Dr. Laura and Lisa Lampanelli, both white, can argue that African Americans can joke the way they have without admonishment, and further as Americans they [Dr. L and Ms L.] have a right to say whatever they choose. But they should also give historical context to their choices and think about the kinds of attitudes they perpetuate. So, are these cases simply matters poor judgment where celebrities go too far, or are they really illuminating an issue?
Next time we want to talk about the parameters for black people in the United States using the N-word. It, too, is not without controversy.