Schlessinger’s Spew

By Jeffrey Page

So let’s get this straight. You go on the air, use the basest ethnic slur 11 times in five minutes, apologize the next day, and a week later tell Larry King you’re going to quit your radio show so you can take back your stolen First Amendment rights? Are you serious?

Yours was no First Amendment issue. No one took away your rights. You just ran your cruel mouth, and decent people have exercised their right to tune you out just as advertisers can use their own rights to run commercials on shows that don’t offend the audience.

The history. Jade, a black woman, called you to ask how to deal with friends of her and her husband – he’s white – when they ask her for information on what black people are thinking. As though she were a racial spokeswoman.

No big deal was the essence of your response – which I guess is easy to say if you’re white and no one asks you to answer for the cretinous behavior of people of your own race, such as Al Capone, Adolf Hitler, Timothy McVeigh.

No big deal is typical of your two-minute psychotherapy sessions with callers; you often dismiss their feelings, put them on the defensive or change the subject. So when Jade asked about the use of the specific racist insult that everyone knows and only barbarians use, you dodged and generalized and then said, “Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO. Listen to a black comic and all you hear is [slur slur slur].”

So what you were saying is that you can utter your racist slander of black people on the airwaves because some black men use that expression to one another? That’s what you said, and Jade picked up on it immediately. A black comedian’s use of the slur of slurs doesn’t make it right or acceptable, she said. To which you condescended: “My dear, my dear.”

You said that complaints about racism in America at a time when we have a black president are “hilarious.” Hilarious? What on earth were you talking about? You went on that it was white America that elected Barak Obama, but Jade begged to differ, saying it was young America. To which you petulantly responded, “Chip on your shoulder. Can’t do much about that.”

So it’s all right to use this slur? Jade asked.

“It depends on how it’s said,” you answered. Wait a minute. Did you just suggest that sometimes it’s all right? You sure did. And then you elaborated, going back to those unnamed black men. “Black guys talking to each other seem to think it’s OK,” you said. Of course Jade wasn’t talking about black guys; she was talking about your use of the defamation.

The next day, you apologized on the air, and for a minute seemed to possess a touch of grace, a trace of kindness, and a hint of compassion that was missing during your tirade with Jade. “I didn’t intend to hurt people but I did,” you said. “I talk every day about doing the right thing, and yesterday I did the wrong thing.” You sounded sincere.

But then, six days later you appeared on the Larry King show, and all of a sudden, you were the victim. You said you were quitting your radio show at the end of the year when your contract lapses. And it was everybody else’s fault.

“The reason is, I want to regain my First Amendment rights,” you said. “I want to be able to say what’s on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry ….”

Is anyone buying this line?

You never lost your rights. Congress made no law to shut you up. But when you insult your listeners by trumpeting – [Slur, slur, slur] – decent people have a habit of walking.  The Bill of Rights protects your right to free speech, but it doesn’t force the rest of us to listen to you. And when we walk, sponsors have a way of looking for other places to spend their advertising dollars.

You don’t want people to get angry with you? Then enter a silent order. Because giving yourself permission to utter that particular slur because some black guys do it makes people very angry. Black, white, doesn’t matter.

Jeffrey can be reached at


Leave a Reply