Free speech and Laura Schlessinger

James Nimmo writes:
Growth or Greed?

Human events are often filled with questions that require choices in
trying to find answers: yes/no, pro/con, either/or,
fundamental/progressive. Sometimes these choices are not clear cut but
dimmed with shades of gray. Does the following question have a clear-cut
answer or is it of the non-white/non-black variety? Does the media
personality Laura Schlessinger have an absolute First Amendment freedom to
write and say whatever she wants in her newspaper column, radio program,
and
possibly, television talk show?
The title of doctor which Ms. Schlessinger can properly use is in the field

of human physiology. Yet the opinions she publicizes in her media outlets
are about psychology, personal counselling, and religion.

In late 1999, Ms. Schlessinger castigated a young teenage girl in
Connecticut who had won first prize in a First Amendment essay contest.
Schlessinger read parts of the winning essay to her radio audience and
offered that if the girl had been her daughter, Schlessinger would consider

putting her up for adoption and further claimed that the writer needed to
be
sacrificed for the views expressed in her essay. The Attorney-general of
Connecticut defended the writer and made public a letter he wrote to
Schlessinger severely chastising her for publicly using the girl as a
vehicle for Schlessinger\'s vehement rhetoric. Did Schlessinger use her
media opportunities to promote a sincerely-held opinion or instead to make
a
public relations splash to attract a larger audience which results in
higher
ratings and increased advertising revenues?

The current gathering storm concerns her characterizing of gay men as
biological errors and sexual predators. The American Medical Association,
and the American Psychiatric Association, have published research stating
that there is no scientific basis that same-sex affinities are indicative
of
disease, physically or psychologically.

Being largely unprotected legally, gay men and women are subjected to
unwarranted social, religious, and employment discrimination, as well as
criminal violence, shown by rising United States Department of Justice
statistics. If Schlessisnger\'s inflammatory and misleading public opinions

increase the anti-social behavior toward a minority, is she protected by
the
First Amendment?

If Schlessinger began referring to African-Americans, a minority that has
received opprobrium in the past and now enjoys legal protection, as being
of
low moral character and sexual licentiousness, would her media sponsors and

audience support remain? If her widely proliferated thoughts led to an
increase in racial violence, would she still be protected by the First
Amendment?

By using media outlets to disperse her vehement and unsubstantiated
opinions
is Schlessinger doing the electronic equivalent of shouting fire in a
crowded theatre?

The First Amendment has been called a great shield in the marketplace of
ideas, protecting the flow of thought and information. Is Schlessinger
using her freely-chosen public position in a reputable way or is she
gun-running with Saturday-night specials of disproved information for quick

profit and notoriety gained at the expense of minorities?

As children we have many privileges which go unbalanced by
responsibilities.
With increasing maturity our responsibilities unite with privileges as
growth rings add to the strength of trees, and we make our individual stand

in the forest of constructive citizenship. Is it not incumbent on each of
us to contribute to the strength of this forest by refuting the destructive

erosion of responsibility provoked by Ms. Schlessisnger?

I have heard and now believe that the best rebuff to malicious speech is
ever more responsible speech. This is clearly the situation regarding Ms.
Schlessinger and her attempt at dehumanizing citizens of this country for
her personal enrichment.

In 1964, Dr. M. L. King said, \"We must learn to live together as brothers
or
perish together as fools.\"

James Nimmo
Oklahoma City, OK

@ Copyright, 2000, by James Nimmo \"

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