The Fuss Over Dr. Laura
by Timothy Rollins
For quite some time now, I have been watching with both mixed interest and fascination the stink certain people are raising with Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Many people, mostly gays and their sympathizers, have been in a royal snit because Dr. Laura describes homosexual behavior as deviant, which it is. In her radio show, she is bright, witty and very blunt in dealing with callers and in the dispensing of advice, most, but not all of which is right for everybody. While some issues are cut and dried, others vary on a case-by-case basis.
As to the complaints of the gay lobby - first of all, they should just stuff it. If they can rant and rail against Dr. Laura in the name of free speech and First Amendment protected rights, they need to remember that these rights cut both ways. Just as they can and often do speak out against those who would condemn their lifestyle, opponents of homosexuality (including Dr. Laura) may also speak out in support of what they believe is right. People, and I mean all people, are free to accept or reject what they hear on this or any other issue for that matter. That is part of the free and open exchange of ideas.
However much I may defend Dr. Laura and others in their right to free speech and expression, and having observed the entire situation with her over the past few months, I have come to a few conclusions regarding all these attacks on her specifically.
I have listened to Dr. Laura Schlessinger on the radio, have read her columns that used to run in Jewish World Review, and saw her television show that debuted just over a week ago. On the radio, she is tough as nails on the outside and a pussycat on the inside. She tells it as it is, and does what she can to encourage her listeners to do the right thing.
When she says no sex before marriage, I have to agree with her. As one who has served in various capacities as a church officer over the past 20 years, I've seen many fine young people complicate their lives by bringing that dynamic into the relationship before marriage. As a result, they reaped immense sadness and profound disappointment in themselves and each other.
When Dr. Laura talks about being faithful to your spouse and not to have an adulterous affair because it appears more alluring and seems so 'refreshing', I again have to agree with her. I have known a few couples who endured adultery, but only one of those marriages survived. The others ended in divorce and there was much bitterness and rancor not just between the ex-spouses, but also between the children and the offending parent. Nothing is more divisive in a family relationship than to have to endure that ultimate betrayal of trust. However, while I may agree with many things Dr. Laura has to say, there are some areas that I disagree with her on because they tend to be overly generalized and fail to give credit to some people being wise and/or mature beyond their years.
Probably the only one of Schlessinger's main theme points that really bugs me is when she tells her listeners to "not get married until you're 30." While as I said before, she might be right on many things, there are times that she is off the mark and to me, this is one of them. I say this is because when I was in college, most of my friends and I married in our early to mid-twenties; the average age of guys was 23, and the girls 21. A good reason for this is because at a younger age, people are more flexible in their routines and it is easier for partners to accommodate each other. I have seen problems with some couples who married older and had been more independent for longer periods of time, and in their cases, somewhat less flexible, thus making the transition from two singles to one couple somewhat difficult.
Another reason that most of my friends married young was that they wanted fairly large families - four, five or more children. Part of this was their religious training, and part of it was just personal desire and preference. May of them had grown up in large families and enjoyed their upbringing from parents who loved them and raised them well. Also, pregnancies are easier on women in their twenties than in their thirties and that their recovery times are shorter, and you have a fairly easy to understand reason why a lot of young people do not wait until their thirties to settle down and marry.
As to those who think that marrying this young has a high divorce rate, I can say this: of all the marriages I know among my friends over the last 20 years, over 90% of them are still together - on their first marriage. So, on this score at least, Laura Schlessinger is off the mark by a considerable margin. So while Dr. Laura has much wisdom to share, people should exercise a little initiative and make some decisions on their own, thus acquiring wisdom of their own from the benefit of their own experience.
I watched her television show when it debuted last week and came to this conclusion: while I enjoyed seeing Dr. Laura on the air as a triumph over her critics, I found that the show, while trying to duplicate the success of the radio program she does so well, seems to fall a little short.
Part of what concerns me about Dr. Laura's show is that it sounds too much like Oprah Winfrey. I cannot stand Oprah Winfrey. She is smug, arrogant and elitist - it's no wonder there is a backlash against her. Even the women who were faithful watchers of Oprah are beginning to lose interest.
What concerns me about Laura Schlessinger is that her camera presence on television has not seemed to translate well - at least not yet. Rush Limbaugh was able to effectively carry his persona well into television, but that is one bridge Dr. Laura has yet to cross. If things don't improve soon, Paramount could show her the door before the end of the season. Perhaps a new producer might be in order if it will strengthen both the quality and survivability of the show.
So while I like Dr. Laura, I do fervently hope that she will improve with time and that her viewership increases. Such action on the part of concerned people across America will be necessary in order to keep the show on the air. Most talk shows on television get the axe within the initial season. The casualty list is both long and diverse. Phil Donahue, the master of the talk show circuit, got knocked out of the ring after nearly two decades. In addition, there have been some less illuminating personalities that have had their shows cancelled, such as Danny Bonaduce, Gabrielle Cartreris of Beverly Hills 90210 and Tempest Bledsoe of the Cosby Show fame. How these people got talk shows, I will never know.
Let us hope that the news of Dr. Laura's new show and her approach to the advocacy of people taking responsibility for their lives will encourage others to not only watch and learn form her show, but to think and act for themselves.
Such a quality is something we could all use.