On Dr. Laura’s Views (Warning: This is The Ignant Half)

I don't trust most people who smile this hard. Dr. Laura is no exception.

This post is going to be halved into an ignant post and an intelligent post – that’s just how much I had to write about this.  Dr. Laura Schlessinger, known commonly as Dr. Laura, made a big error recently on her radio show.  In the midst of a phone call about interracial dating and the problems a black wife was having with her white husband’s friends, Dr. Laura tried to, in her words, “make a philosophical point” by saying “nigger, nigger, nigger” on 3 separate occasions – twice on the phone with the woman, and once afterward.  But I recognize that this probably makes it look worse than it is – so here’s a link where you can both read the transcript and listen to the entire event.


Alright, so there’s plenty to talk about here and I don’t want to ramble on without hitting a couple of major points.  First, no – Dr. Laura didn’t call anybody a nigger.  To say she did that would be to take the comments out of context and to, as she said, “NAACP her.”  (By the way, did anybody know you could turn the NAACP into a verb form?  That’s allowed but to create slang terminology is frowned upon.  Just something I noticed.)  She did, however, piss me and a friend of mine off pretty badly.  My friend is even more angry at the “apology” Dr. Laura gave the following day, which seemed insincere and smacked of just doing it because she had to, not because she thought she did anything wrong.

So here’s the “ignant” side of this post – I’m getting tired of the damn apologies that some white people make when they knowingly put their feet in their mouths with behavior like this.  Like the rules don’t apply, and that it doesn’t matter if it’s possibly wrong, I can do it anyway.  The idea that these people really don’t matter and their experience in this country is something to be mocked because I can do it.  Here’s a portion of the transcript that really bothered me about this privileged attitude that is taken by some whites (and I have to say some, God knows I don’t want to do another rant about white people).

CALLER: I can’t believe someone like you is on the radio spewing out the “nigger” word, and I hope everybody heard it.

SCHLESSINGER: I didn’t spew out the “nigger” word.

CALLER: You said, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.”

SCHLESSINGER: Right, I said that’s what you hear.

CALLER: Everybody heard it.

SCHLESSINGER: Yes, they did.

CALLER: I hope everybody heard it.

SCHLESSINGER: They did, and I’ll say it again

CALLER: So what makes it OK for you to say the word?

SCHLESSINGER: — nigger, nigger, nigger is what you hear on HB —

CALLER: So what makes it —

SCHLESSINGER: Why don’t you let me finish a sentence?

No, why don’t I cut you off right there, Dr. Laura.  “They did, and I’ll say it again?”  Are you kidding me?  On a nationally syndicated radio show, you’re going to make the assumptions you did (which I’ll be bringing up in the intellectual post) and twice say, “nigger, nigger, nigger” for no good reason?  Seriously, what philosophical point (and I truly, truly, despise that she cloaked it in “philosophical” to try to save her ass.  Take it from a philosopher – there was nothing philosophical about this) was she after?  Even when listening and re-reading the transcript, there really was no reason for it.  There was no place for it.

Now this isn’t about who should or shouldn’t get to say the word, “nigger.”  Quite frankly, “nigger” is a harsh, brutal, historically modified word that cannot (and I’ll say it again, cannot) have any sort of kind qualities attached to it.  (“Nigga” might be another story)  What this is about (right now) is the palpable anger I felt over this event and her half-hearted apology that she offered up.  To her own admission, it’s not that she said it that was wrong – but that she offended someone.  What that means to me is that if she went to a Klan rally yelling, “Nigger, nigger, nigger is on HBO!” then she wouldn’t actually be doing anything wrong because she’s not offending anyone present.  I sincerely doubt Dr. Laura is pro-Klan, but the example stays – she didn’t have a problem with her actions, she had a problem with the reaction to her actions.  Like when a kid gets sad because the little one disappointed the parents – the sadness isn’t with the actions taken but by the response to the actions.

Her apology meant nothing to me or to my friend because we are tired of having to hear, “I’m sorry,” from some white people.  We both wanted to know when will it be common knowledge to respect the African-American experience because we both are getting quite tired of it in our personal and professional lives.  So this REALLY didn’t help matters.  To close out the “ignant” portion of this post, I’m going to deliver a verbatim statement I made on my friend’s Facebook post, which was, “Dr. Laura can we call me spitting in yo damn face a philosophical point as well!”

“…that was an offensive repartee if I’ve ever heard one – the black woman said, “Just because it’s on HBO doesn’t make it right for you to say it,” and Dr. Laura’s punk ass was adamant about it being OK for her to say “nigger, nigger, nigger” for what ended up being no reason at all…I’m getting real tired of all of these excuses being tossed around, fake apologies, and overall insensitivity to the Black experience in this country by white people. Goddamnit I’m about to pull a Garvey and hit the Back-to-Africa train or at least the “Get out of the US” train because this shit is pissing me off. Like she really thought this was an OK course of action? When I piss on her grave, I’ll consider it an OK course of action for a philosophical point.”

Hyperbole aside (trust me, I’m not into grave defamation), let’s just agree that I’m not pleased with what’s taken place.  And if you need more explanation, ask and also check out tomorrow’s intelligent post.


Tomorrow will be the intellectual side of my problems with this – she jumps down a slippery slope in her descriptions of both racism in America right now as well as on the use of the word “nigger” by Black people.  Expect a calmer tone, but it was nice to get this out.

Guest Post At Love/H8/Relate by Yours Truly

While wrapping up my normal blogging blitz (post on Dr. Laura and right after that, a post on Obama and the Mosques, Rams blogging and Cardinals blogging), I also had some time to do a guest post for a friend of mine’s blog, Love/H8/Relate.  I was asked to do something about power in relationships (this is an issue I’ve visited in a few different ways before) and I was able to put together something about the perception of power in relationships and how to keep from being a power-hungry partner.  Hopefully it’ll drive traffic to what’s a great blog, in my view (but it’s not like my name carries much weight in the Black blogosphere, haha).  Either way, expect a lot of stuff coming out today here, and at both the Rams and Cardinals blogs – but we’ll kick the day off with, “On the Perception of Power,” over at Love/H8/Relate.

My favorite line:

“The moment we try to bond with one another on a deeper level it becomes a masked war of attrition for a figment of our imaginations.”


On Explaining What Hasn’t Been Experienced…

Today, I read an article on The Fresh Xpress about a guy who wouldn’t date sorority women (this looks like some sort of FML introduction).  Of course, saying this on a Black website is like saying you wouldn’t date a Christian on a Bible website.  So comments galore erupted, mostly from proud members of BGLOs, saying his article was short-sighted and a caricature of their organizations.  After awhile, the comments were more of what I’m used to with sensitive subjects amongst my people (a bunch of tiring, played out, reactionary, childish BULLSHIT)…but one comment got me writing today.

“Best comment on the thread goes to ^^^ “Again it’s impossible to explain just like I can’t really say what it’s like to be a Man. I can’t because I’m not one.”

That about sums this up for me! Can’t explain or extrapolate on something you’ve never experienced.”

The italics were mine, because this is what drove me to write today.  The person above who made the comment said the whole thing about she can’t say what it’s like to be a man because she’s not one, and we apparently can’t explain or extrapolate on something we’ve never experienced.  To this, I call bullshit.

Point #1 – Sticking with the topic that the guy wrote on, he’s offered up his “experience” with a few BGLO women (note: I’m not siding with him or with his detractors, just going with the example) and it wasn’t very good, apparently.  Now, the response is obviously, “When I say “experience,” I meant the experience of crossing and joining, not having had some experience with a member!  Duh!”  A good response, to which I will continue my call of bullshit.  I can still extrapolate due to my multiple interactions with members, my research into the history of the organizations and with my own empirical experience of what I perceive to be going on.  Why can I do this?  Because (and I’ll hammer this home with Point #2) we do this EXACT practice daily.  Daily we extrapolate on political matters that we have no experience in, for example.  Few of us are actual politicians, and yet we try to explain political matters after having done (hopefully) a smidgen of research and using whatever intellect we have combined with our own reflection on our own experiences (sorry, I’ve been studying Locke and Hume lately so Modern-era empiricism will pop in here, but it’s relevant, no?).  So for as much as the woman who said she can’t really say she knows what it’s like to be a man cannot really say it, it’s a crock for us to think she hasn’t extrapolated or tried to explain the male experience in the world at some point in time.  So I call bullshit on that.

Point #2 – We Do This Practice Daily, I Do This Professionally

Apparently, we can’t explain what hasn’t been experienced.  I will introduce astrophysics as a counter-example.  None of us have experienced the explosion of a star, a black hole, galaxies colliding or planets being destroyed.  But the astrophysicist attempts to explain it with the techniques, tools, and technology available.  At worst, he extrapolates but we come away with a working theory that’s open to further modification.  I’ll now introduce philosophy as a second counter-example.  Consciously, most of us don’t wonder about the question of personal identity, which is how we would experience it.  Yet the philosopher does so and tries to answer it in a way to bring that information to the masses (ideally).  To go even deeper, a white philosopher educating his class about racism is a perfect example of someone explaining what hasn’t been first-hand experienced.  Could he have seen it, done research about it, even fought valiantly against it?  Certainly.  But has he been racially discriminated against ala how Black people and other minorities are?  Doubtful.

My point is that lacking first-hand experience doesn’t preclude one from being able to, at the very least, extrapolate a modicum of information about a particular situation.  Think hard – you do it, too.  When your friend asks for advice, you haven’t been in that EXACT situation; you pull from your own experiences, your knowledge of the situation at hand, and you combine to try to explain what YOU think is going on and extrapolate to a solution.  When we bloggers go on our rants about ridiculous stuff that means nothing to 99.8% of the global population, we’re generally talking about something or someone that we have zero first-hand experience with.  When somebody trashes a celebrity, normally they don’t know the celebrity – they’ve done some research and made a judgment.  Not to go all Descartes on you, but let me break down a couple of parts of Meditations 3 & 4 for you all really quickly:

1) We’ve got two faculties that combine for our decision-making – the intellect and the will.

2) When we make a judgment, it’s us exercising our will.

3) Errors are made when we exercise our will without having enough intellect.

Why this Cartesian sidebar?  Because this is more or less how we operate (I have problems with Cartesian epistemology, but I can’t disagree with this).  And more often than not, we’ll be operating from second-hand experience/knowledge rather than first-hand experience.  Hell, what do you think a thought experiment is?  It’s literally explaining what hasn’t been experienced.  And both physics and philosophy use thought experiments heavily in order to give us working theories with which we operate in the day-to-day.  Epistemologically speaking, I would contend that a lot of our working knowledge is based on what we experience, our reflections on it, and modifications via more experiences and more reflection.  All that is to say that we are always trying to explain what hasn’t been experienced first-hand by us, in philosophy and in our daily lives.  And it’s how we formulate many of our opinions, arguments, judgments and criticisms of the goings-on in the world.  To say that we ought to refrain from attempting to explain what hasn’t been experienced first-hand (and negate our relative first-hand knowledge through our own experience with the thing) is, to me, bullshit.

Point #3 – Sometimes We Can’t Even Explain Why We Experience What We Experience

Has something ever happened to you and you just don’t know why?  You can’t figure it out?  But you’ve had first-hand experience of it – you should be able to explain it better than anybody, right?  Wrong.  This is why we go to the doctor’s office, right?  Our back hurts – we know it hurts, we feel the pain more than anybody else.  But we can’t explain the pain, we just know this pain better than the observer of this pain.  According to the above line of thought, the doctor can’t even extrapolate or explain the pain you’re experiencing because the doctor hasn’t experienced this pain, right?  But we would all say that’s wrong, no?  We’d say that the doctor has the expertise to be able to diagnose the problem and prescribe a remedy.  Taking expertise into account now (which technically could be done for the astrophysicist and the philosopher), how can we say that you can’t explain what you haven’t first-hand experienced yourself?

We do this daily, people do this professionally, and quite frankly somebody has saved somebody else’s life because s/he was able to explain a situation that hadn’t necessarily been endured first-hand by that person.  Maybe there should be a qualifier attached, but I don’t really see the reason to attach one because you can explain or extrapolate about things that haven’t been experienced.

My rant/essay is done.  Enjoy your Wednesday, folks.

IGNANT Fridays – Vol. 4

Greetings from the other side of July, also known as August.  And my, my – August started off with nationwide IGNANCE. As I’m sure many of you all have seen, a young man named Antoine Dodson was awakened by the sounds of an attempted rape of his sister in the next room.  He went to fight the man off and succeeded.  They didn’t catch him, but Antoine sounded extremely certain that they will catch the rapist…and gave quite a few other soundbites.

I have no words for this news other than ignant.  I guess the newspeople wanted the most visceral of reactions on tape.

But have you all ever seen an IGNANT freakout?  Where somebody loses it for a horribly ignant reason?  My aunt sent me an email the other day that had this video in it…

Now is that as bad or worse than when the kid flipped out because his World of Warcraft account got deleted?  After re-watching just a minute of the World of Warcraft kid, I think the noodles-lover freakout falls just a bit short of the WoW fan.

That’s all from IGNANT Friday this week.  Remember, if you see ignance – let me know about it!  Tweet me, email me (mrphilosopher3@gmail.com), comment here, or Facebook me – but I want to tell more of these ignant stories!