Retirement to last one weekend
Dr. Laura opts against shouting out mean stuff from her porch, still doesn't getthe First Amendment
In case anyone was wondering what repeating the N-word at an African American caller does to the career of a famous conservative, the answer is, honestly, not much.
In August Laura Schlessinger announced she would be ending her syndicated radio program at the end of the year after a media furor erupted over the Aug. 10 N-word incident and advertisers balked.
But on Monday, Sirius XM and Schlessinger announced she has signed a new deal to continue her program on the satellite radio provider. Schlessinger told the Associated Press that Sirius talk programming chief Jeremy Coleman called her the day after her ending-her-show announcement on Larry King Live. Details of her contract have not been released.
So after a weekend off at the beginning of 2011, Dr. Laura will be back on the air for Sirius XM satellite subscribers on Jan. 3, with a virtually identical live format responding to callers from 2 to 5 p.m. Schlessinger estimates her audience — currently 8 million listeners a day throughout the country — would grow following the move, though that would require 40 percent of current Sirius subscribers, numbered at approximately 20 million, to tune in to her program.
"The first and most important thing that appealed to me was the freedom to speak my mind without advertisers and affiliates being attacked by activist groups that just love to censor anything they don't agree with," Schlessinger said. "I am so overjoyed to be in an arena where I can expand my format, where it’s uncensored, where they reward true free speech,” she told The New York Times.
I wish Dr. Laura many happy years of declining influence on satellite — but just for old times' sake, I feel compelled to give her one last lesson on free speech.
Freedom of speech, as codified in the first amendment of the Constitution, protects an individual from government action based on their words or beliefs. Such freedoms do not extend to the corporate arena.
Employers, including media conglomerates, can fine, fire or censor their employees for expressing thoughts or beliefs that project them in negative ways. "Activist groups" have a freedom of speech they can use to threaten advertisers with boycotts for financially supporting people or causes they find offensive. Advertisers have a right to not want to be associated with controversial ideas — just watch the commercials during Glenn Beck on Fox News.
This is how the mainstream media operates, for better or worse. As A.J. Leibling said, "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."
But choosing not to play by its constraints isn't a limitation of one's right to free speech. That's why satellite radio is an option — costs are paid by subscription fees instead of advertising. Lacking that, there are other ways to disseminate your beliefs: blogs, podcasts, niche magazines, newsletters, even shouting at passersby from your front porch, which I believe is what mean old women like Dr. Laura did before talk radio came along.
Enjoy Sirius, Dr. Laura. This is America, and it's nice to see there's a platform for everyone — even unrepentant racists like you.