Sisterhood Blog

On Dr. Laura's Tirade — and Her Defection From Orthodoxy

By Gabrielle Birkner

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Dr. Laura Schelssinger

Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the heavy-handed conservative radio host, is in the news for using the n-word 11 times during her Tuesday show. Schlessinger told an African-American woman, who is married to a white man and who called in for advice about dealing with her in-laws’ racist remarks, that if she doesn’t have a sense of humor, then she should not “marry outside your own race.”

The tirade recalled this 2003 Forward story about Dr. Laura, as she is known — specifically about the Jewish convert’s defection from Orthodox Judaism. Here is an excerpt from that piece:

Schlessinger began her August 5 program by noting that, prior to each broadcast, she spends an hour reading faxes from fans and listeners. “By and large the faxes from Christians have been very loving, very supportive,” she said. “From my own religion, I have either gotten nothing, which is 99% of it, or two of the nastiest letters I have gotten in a long time. I guess that’s my point — I don’t get much back. Not much warmth coming back.”

… Of her conversion to Judaism, Schlessinger said, “I felt that I was putting out a tremendous amount toward that mission, that end, and not feeling return, not feeling connected, not feeling that inspired. Trust me, I’ve talked to rabbis, I’ve read, I’ve prayed, I’ve agonized and I came to this place anyway — which is not exactly back to the beginning, but more in that direction than not.”

Dr. Laura has been dispensing advice on the radio for more than 20 years, during which time the tenor of her counsel has become less nuanced and empathic, and more ideological and doctrinaire. That shift has made her a darling of the Christian right, and earned her the title “Dr. Laura Sledgehammer” from some on the left. Apologies are not generally part of Dr. Laura’s repertoire, but she apparently made an exception in the wake of the uproar over her slur-filled comments. On Wednesday, she issued this apology on her website.

The Los Angeles-based talk show host is the the author of 12 books, including “The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God’s Laws in Everyday Life” (Harper, 1999), written with Rabbi Stewart Vogel.


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