My husband and I were discussing this issue again this morning. It occurred to me that as repugnant as Dr. Laura can be, she does serve a purpose. I also think that some people are confused about what her job is. Dr. Laura is billed as someone who helps people with their problems. In actuality, that's not really what she does. What Dr. Laura is, when it comes down to it, is a disc jockey. Her job is not to help people with their problems. Her job is to stir up shit. And after saying the word "nigger" on the air, she has stirred up a lot of shit. Therefore, she has done her job.
What's happening now? People are talking about racism and race relations. Some people are articulating why they think it's okay for one person to use the n-word, but it's not okay for others to do so. Some people are explaining why they think it's not okay for anyone to use that word. The one thing I don't see people doing too much of is listening, but at least there's some talking going on. That's not a bad thing.
At this point in time, the n-word is considered a highly offensive word, just like the word "fag" is, to most Americans, a highly offensive word. If you choose to use highly offensive words, you run the risk of offending people. And given that the "n-word", "bitch", and "fag" are derogatory words that will upset some people, I don't think it's appropriate for anyone to use them in polite company unless they want to risk upsetting people. Of course, for some people, being upsetting is the goal... and in some situations, the words can be used without an intent to be offensive. I really think that's the core issue people ought to concern themselves more with, anyway. Rather than get upset that a certain word was said, we should look closer at what the person saying it meant by it.
But, I also think it's wrong to restrict word usage to certain groups of people, especially in a country where people are guaranteed the right to freedom of speech. If we really want true equality in this country, then we have to stop giving certain groups a pass for saying and doing things that society as a whole deems inappropriate.