Why I'm not holding a protest sign (3/24/00)

I'm sure you've heard of Dr. Laura Schlessinger - if not, she's a radio talk-show host who comments on current events and doles out some pretty common-sense advice. Heck, I used to listen to her, until I started really listening to what she was saying. You might not have heard of the latest controversy surrounding her, though. See, Paramount is giving Dr. Laura, as she's usually known, her own television show, and a lot of people are pretty upset about it, to say the least.

Dr. Laura has repeatedly referred to homosexuals as "biological mistakes" and "deviants," told people not to leave their children alone with gay relatives, claimed that homosexual men prey on young boys, and likened homosexual behavior to bestiality. She's also done some other nasty things - when an eighth-grade girl wrote an award-winning essay defending free speech on the Internet, Dr. Laura insisted that the First Amendment did not apply to the Internet, and suggested that the girl who wrote the essay be sacrificed, "Inca-style," while calling her ideas "stupid" and "dangerous." However, it is her attacks on homosexuals that led to a protest against her not-yet-produced television show. Numerous groups have gotten together and protested outside the Paramount studio and other places, asking that her show not be aired.

I despise this woman, largely as an employee of the public library system - she convinced Toys "R" Us, the largest donator to public libraries in the U.S., to stop its funding because she felt there weren't sufficient controls in libraries to shield children from porn on the Internet. But the stupidity of that action can be discussed in another column. (Sorry; I have to - how the hell does she think libraries are going to upgrade screening software with no funds?) The problem is, I think Dr. Laura should be allowed to have her TV show.

It's not that I agree with what she says. I think she should be relegated to some dark corner of conservatism and left to rot, but I don't think it should happen because some people carried signs outside of Paramount's front gates; I think it should happen because everybody finally realizes the worthlessness of the poison she spreads. Do I think her TV show will be offensive and degrading to human beings? Sure, but no more so than "Jerry Springer," or "The Newlywed Game" or "Cops." I'm a firm believer in the doctrine that people deserve what they ask for, and I shudder at the idea that they must be protected from themselves.

Think about this - we get our NBC out of South Bend, right? That means we get signals from one of only nine NBC affiliates in the U.S. to not air the innocuously stupid "God, the Devil, and Bob" because of reactionary protests. Or how about the Southern Baptist Convention banning Disney largely because of a single movie, "Priest," that the vast majority of them have never seen? (It's an incredible flick, by the way, if you ever get the chance to see it.) How can I disapprove of the actions of these people and not those of a group of preemptively-offended protesters demanding that a show they've never seen not be allowed on the air?

Simply put, I can't. I encourage all of you not to support the show, and simply hope that the general public will make it clear to Paramount that Dr. Laura's show is not profitable enough to keep. But you won't find me in front of Paramount with a petition, and I hope you won't be, either - for all the right reasons.

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