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Jewish World Review August 10, 1999 /28 Av, 5759

Dr. Laura

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Debunking Dr. Laura? -- SINCE OTHER NEWSPAPER COLUMNISTS have been writing about me a lot lately, I've decided to use this space to clear up some of the confusion about who I am and what I stand for.

False: She's a right-wing Christian nut." (My personal favorite.)

True: My Orthodox rabbi will be interested to know that!

False: She's against working mothers.

True: I am a working mother. However, I quit working when my son was born and went back to work for three hours when he was in school. My husband and I have always fit our income-producing activities around him and his needs -- not the other way around. What I am against is parents (not just mothers) who don't put caring for their children above their personal career goals -- parents who try to "balance" both. What kind of parents put their own children "in the balance"? Day care used to be thought of as a necessary evil in the social safety net -- for emergencies and sudden tragedies. Today it's touted as superior to stay-at-home moms and dads. Bull!

False: She's the wicked witch of the west!

True: I don't own, nor have I ever owned, a pair of ruby slippers.

False: She's a homophobe.

True: Anyone who believes that not every conceivable combination of adults constitutes a bona fide family is damned with this epithet; likewise anyone whose religious beliefs preclude the acceptance of same-sex sex. I have thousands of homosexual fans, who write, fax and call to support my rejection of the gay activist agenda.

False: She's a hypocrite.

True: I can't, for the life of me, figure out why people say this about me. My life (unfortunately!) is an open book. Even my youthful transgressions are all-too-public knowledge. But they were youthful and in the past. When I talk about the clear benefits of leading a moral, religiously committed life, rather than relying on one's own feelings or ideas for guidance, I really know what I'm talking about. Doesn't that make me a teacher, rather than a hypocrite?

False: She deceives people about her credentials.

True: I am a radio talk-show host. What kind of credentials does one need to honestly fulfill that role? I'm not a "radio shrink." On-air therapy is an oxymoron, and it doesn't interest me in the least. However, if I wanted to "shrink" my radio callers, I could. I am a licensed psychotherapist in California and had a private practice for many years. The fact that my Ph.D. is in medical physiology from Columbia University is printed all over my biographical material and my books. I'm very proud of my degree. Since I preach, teach and nag on radio about morals, values and ethics, why do I need a degree in psychology? As a matter of fact, given the state of psychology today, such a degree would certainly disqualify me.

False: She's vicious, mean, angry ... (you get the idea).

True: If this is true, why do 60,000 people try to call my show every day to ask me a question? I'm not calling them. And why do thousands of others write and fax me each week? I really don't think it's because they perceive me in this way. I think they appreciate my straight talk, blunt assessments and black-and-white approach to life. At least, that's what they tell me. I guess my confidence about what I do on the air comes from the tremendous feedback I get from my listeners, confirming my style and my suggestions. And the fact that more than 3 million people have bought my books gives me a nice warm feeling as well. False: She's a self-righteous b----!

True: This conclusion follows the assumption that my opinions are just that -- my opinions. The fact is that my opinions are solidly based on the moral absolutes contained in the Ten Commandments, which form the foundation of the Judeo-Christian underpinnings of Western civilization. I am righteously on the side of goodness, not self-righteous in the least. Just because I'm not perfect doesn't mean I don't know what's right.

False: She's so unsympathetic to callers.

True: I generally save my sympathy for the too-often innocent victims of adult mistakes -- the children. Our children are my main concern, not only on the air but in the rest of my life as well. I treat many calls as prophylactic for listeners -- hopefully giving them pause before they create the same nightmare for their own kids. Often I can't really do much for the caller, who has gotten himself and his family into a real mess. Not everything can be fixed. Some things just have to be endured, but they can valuable lessons not only for the perpetrator, but also for the audience.

I could probably do several columns in this format, since I certainly haven't exhausted all the criticism that comes my way. But I also want to thank all of you who write me in support of my ideas and principles. Your letters really help.

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©1999, Universal Press Syndicate