By Kathleen Gilbert
BROOKLYN, New York, August 18, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Dr. Laura Schlessinger, America's top-rated female syndicated radio talk show host, relied on by countless listeners for sound relationship advice and moral guidance, has announced that she is ending her radio talk show and pursuing new venues after becoming fed up with what she says are attempts to silence her message.
The announcement came during the pro-family radio star's appearance on Larry King Live that aired Tuesday, and was prompted by a controversy that ensued after Schlessinger used the N-word on air to make, in Schlessinger's words, a "philosophical point" on the use of the term.
Schlessinger has fallen victim to intense opposition for previous comments: in 2000, Schlessinger met with an immense backlash after calling homosexuality a "biological error" and linking homosexuality to pedophilia. The remarks prompted over 170 sponsors to turn against her and helped precipitate the demise of her short-lived television program.
Schlessinger's stance against homosexuality even caused the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council to rule her "abusively discriminatory," saying that her views "fertilize the ground" for "brutality," and the radio personality was subsequently kicked off Canadian airwaves.
The Dr. Laura Program has consistently rated among the top 5 radio shows in America, and Schlessinger has published numerous books, including the highly successful Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives and The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.
Although Schlessinger issued an apology immediately after the N-word incident, negative media coverage began hounding Schlessinger; King listed several sponsors of The Dr. Laura Program that have begun reviewing their relationship with the show.
Schlessinger told King that she has decided not to renew her radio contract for The Dr. Laura Program at the end of this year, and that her last show would air just before Christmas 2010.
"The reason is: I want to regain my First Amendment rights," she said. "I want to be able to say what's on my mind, and in my heart, what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent, and attack affiliates and attack sponsors."
Schlessinger stressed that, although she immediately and sincerely apologized for the remarks without being asked to do so, her opponents refused to call off their manhunt, with some insisting that she is secretly racist and that the apology wasn't sincere. "I didn't wait to be threatened. I took responsibility for what I did," she said. "And to imagine that there are people who refuse to accept an apology because they have an agenda and would like me silenced is - I'm done with that. I'm just done with that."
However, Schlessinger insisted that did not mean she's backing down. "I'm not retiring. I'm not quitting," she said. "I feel energized actually, stronger and freer to say the things that I believe need to be said for people in this country." She indicated that she hoped to continue broadcasting her message via her website, DrLaura.com, as well as her blog, and possibly writing more books.
Although Schlessinger reduced religious input on The Dr. Laura Program after disavowing her Orthodox Jewish faith in 2003, she has continued to serve up an unabashedly conservative viewpoint on modern moral controversies. For example, in 2009, Schlessinger defended Pope Benedict XVI's widely-denigrated remark that condoms would not solve the AIDS problem, asserting that the pope is correct to point out the superiority of sexual abstinence. "The naysayers all have one thing in common: they refuse to want, believe or accept that human beings can commit to a higher spiritual state of thought and behavior. The Pope believes in us more than that," she wrote.
The pro-life Schlessinger has also stood up for the use of graphic abortion images. "Yes, they are disturbing … and they should offend … the act is offensive," she noted in 2008, when the Center for Bioethical Reform drew criticism for its tour showing the images in Florida.
In a recent entry on her blog, Dr. Laura pointed out how disagreement on the public forum has turned to a spirit of retribution over the past decades.
"When I first started out in radio, people would disagree … they DISAGREED … they didn’t HATE," she wrote. "They didn’t try to censor, they didn’t try to destroy an opposing point of view. Instead … they just argued and debated, and argued and disagreed, and debated and argued.
"But our society has changed dramatically. Self-appointed activist types breed hate, breed anger, breed destruction should anyone hold up a mirror or dare to disagree," she wrote. "This environment, as you know, is not only in radio and television … it is in politics; it’s in every area of our society… in your neighborhoods, in your school districts, at work."