Wednesday, September 13, 2000

Protests awry

Fans, not Dr. Laura, infuriating

        People are protesting Dr. Laura's comments about gays. They should be protesting the brainless sheep who have made her a star.

        “Oh, Dr. Laura, thank you for taking my call. I am my kid's mom, and I can't be moral without help from a shrewish, former divorcee with a doctorate in physiology. I love the way you interrupt me, berate me and make instant, unqualified judgments about everyone in my life. You're the best, Dr. Laura!”

        Bring me a vomit bag.

        This week, Channel 9 started airing Laura Schlessinger's new television show. In response, 20 protesters demonstrated at the station, blasting the host's so-called homophobia.

        Their concern is misplaced. Ms. Schlessinger's opinions about gays aren't as disturbing as her sainthood in the eyes of America's stay-at-home moms. Every day, thousands of them call her radio show for moral guidance. They can't seem to make the simplest decisions without her OK. They fawn and suck up and spill over with need.

        Half the time, Ms. Schlessinger passes judgment in that chirpy, singsong voice without even letting callers finish their sentences. If she had any real patients, they'd be head cases for sure.

        In Greater Cincinnati, her radio show airs from 9 a.m. to noon on WKRC 55 AM. On it, Ms. Schlessinger has called homosexuality a “biological error” and pedophilia more common among gays than straight people.

        The pedophilia claim is ridiculous and ought to be protested. But her assessment of homosexuality strikes me as a backhanded victory for gay people. Granted, “error” has a negative connotation, but at least she concedes the biological nature of sexual orientation. It's not just a lifestyle choice. It's a fact.

        To the extent that she demonizes gay people, Ms. Schlessinger deserves scorn. But simply calling their sexual practices “deviant” is no big deal. Technically, “deviant” is a neutral term that merely describes behavior outside the norm.

        What really yanks my chain is the way housewives worship this big-mouthed moralist.

        On the radio Monday, one caller wanted to know whether she should use the mailing labels sent to her by a charity, even though she wouldn't be making a donation. For this she needs a talk-show host? You wonder how she gets dressed in the morning.

        Another woman was crying when she called. She had just learned her sister wouldn't be coming to her daughter's christening. The sister had married a born-again Christian and no longer felt comfortable in Catholic churches.

        Now there's a delicate issue: how to accommodate born-again Christians in a family that isn't. But of course, Ms. Schlessinger pulled out her sledgehammer and missed the nail.

        Don't take it personally, she responded, because “right now she's trying to keep her marriage together, and you have to respect that.”

        The woman sniffled. “Should I call her back now and tell her I'm sorry for all the things I said?”

        “Yes, 'cause she's trying to keep her marriage together.”

        “OK, Dr. Laura, I knew I could definitely go by what you tell me. I really respect you.”

        How pathetic. Healthy discussion has been replaced by creepy reverence for a finger-wagging hack. That's the real cause for alarm.

Karen Samples is The Enquirer's Kentucky columnist. Her column appears on Sundays and Thursdays in The Kentucky Enquirer. She can be reached at 578-5584 or email her at