Jewish World Review June 14, 2000 /11 Sivan, 5760
The startling contrast in the responses to these two provocations speaks volumes about the values and priorities of many of today's leading gay activists. While generally ignoring the crude, hostile, bigoted lyrics of white rapper Eminem, prominent homosexual organizations pursue boycotts and demonstrations against Dr. Laura Schlessinger, labeling her religious-based but controversial opinions as "hate speech."
Activists can't explain this double standard in terms of Dr. Laura's greater influence: Eminem, whose The Marshall Mathers LP sold a record-breaking 1.7 million copies in the first week of its release, connects directly with just the sort of angry adolescents who would most likely perpetrate homophobic violence. In his song, Kill You, Eminem fiercely declares: You faggots keep egging me on/ Till I have you at knife point then you beg me to stop?/ Shut up, give me your hands and feet.
In another ditty, Criminal, the artist rants: My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge/ And I'll stab you in the head, whether you're a fag or a les … Hate fags? The answer's yes.
He also makes a joke of the recent murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace: Hey, it's me, Versace/ Whoops, somebody shot me!/ And I was just checkin' the mail/ Get it, checkin' the male?
To its credit, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a news release criticizing Interscope Records, a division of the Universal entertainment conglomerate, for choosing to release and promote these dangerous messages. "Such defamatory material … encourages violence and hatred," they rightly observed. "Holding the … community up as a target for abuse is unnecessary to sell records."
As yet, however, no gay organization has promoted a boycott of any kind against Universal or Interscope, or planned demonstrations, or launched any other forms of organized protest.
Compare this measured response to the massive public effort to silence radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger and to force Paramount Television to cancel her new TV show before it even premieres. A coalition of activists has threatened sponsors, leading to the withdrawal of Procter & Gamble and other potential supporters. The campaign against Dr. Laura even has led the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, Canada's official media watchdog agency, to condemn her radio show as "abusively discriminatory" and to call for its censorship by Canadian stations.
Despite the fact that Schlessinger consistently has condemned all violence against gay people and the thugs who perpetrate it, the Canadian bureaucrats specifically associated her program with such attacks - including the tragic murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. For anyone who has listened to Laura Schlessinger for even a few minutes, this notion seems especially ludicrous. It is difficult to imagine the brutal ex-cons and career criminals who robbed and murdered Matthew Shepard as regular listeners to Dr. Laura's brand of "Now, go take on the day!" traditionalism.
In fact, such cruel, drunken, post-adolescent predators would seem by all accounts far more likely to listen to the explosive music of Eminem than to follow the advice of a nagging lady therapist.
The bizarre obsession with Dr. Laura's new TV show emerges as similarly misguided and disproportionate. The groups and individuals who are so determined to cancel a show that no one, as yet, even has seen are demanding the very essence of censorship - that is, prior restraint.
Regarding that TV show, they're not trying to force her off the air because of what she says (as she hasn't said it yet), but because of who she is. They can't accept her as a religious Jew who takes seriously the biblical prohibition against homosexuality.
The one quote that activists (such as the organizers of the Web site stopdrlaura.com) invariably cite first as evidence of Schlessinger's hate speech actually conforms to the attitudes toward same-sex relationships that have characterized nearly all Western religious traditions. "If you're gay or a lesbian, it's a biological error that inhibits you from relating normally to the opposite sex," Dr. Laura said Dec. 8 on her Web site. "The fact that you are intelligent, creative and valuable is all true. The error is in your inability to relate sexually, intimately, in a loving way to a member of the opposite sex."
If you accept the religious notion that the most profound, timeless purpose for all sexuality is procreation, then is it truly so bigoted and irrational to suggest that a sexual focus that can never result in children is, in evolutionary terms, if nothing else, an error? Is this line of argument so hateful, so dangerous, that it can't even be discussed?
Even Dr. Laura's critics acknowledge that she scrupulously avoids crude insults such as "fag" or "queer" when discussing homosexual behavior. In this Jerry Springer era, it seems odd that her show should inspire such controversy.
Sponsor boycotts and censorship demands in the past have nearly always involved parental concern over excesses of violence, graphic sex or foul language. What bothers gay organizations about Laura Schlessinger, however, isn't obscenity; it's opinion. The fierce opposition to her TV forum from those who insist on a politically correct, unquestioningly positive view of homosexuality doesn't stem from the fear that she will inspire violence, but rather from the fear that she will inspire serious - even uncomfortable - discussion. In contrast to Eminem and other hip-hop hell-raisers, Dr. Laura's audience doesn't comprise drooling, menacing, immature troglodytes, but rather mainstream Americans who wish no harm to their gay neighbors, but may not feel ready to sanction homosexuality as normal and nourishing.
The fury over Dr. Laura, as compared to the understated response to Eminem, sends the unfortunate message that America's gay establishment is more upset by substantive challenges than they are by savage language - and less worried by insults than they are by
JWR contributor, author and film critic
Michael Medved hosts a daily three-hour radio talk show
broadcast in more than 120 cities throughout the United States and is in direct competition with Dr. Laura's. His latest book, written together with his wife, is Saving Childhood : Protecting Our Children from the National Assault on Innocence . You may contact him by clicking here.
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