Dr. Laura Could Use A Few Facts
This column ran in The Courant on November 9, 1999

Sometimes the trailer’s so good, there’s no way a movie could live up to it.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger runs the biggest talk radio show in history.
She knows how to spot gold and she knows when the best doesn’t get better.

This time it was in the press release from the Connecticut attorney
general’s office naming the state’s annual Law Day essay contest winners.
It was all she could ask for, contained in a single paragraph from 14-year-old
Sara Miller’s first-prize-winning essay against censorship of the Internet.

``Every person has a different set of moral values that they can live by,’’ Sara wrote.
``Nobody’s values are wrong, too strict or unfit. No one is perfect.
People should be able to live by the values they make for themselves.’’

There . . . an evil little anarchist child she could mete punishment upon,
without which there can be no redemption for her audience.
When you’ve got 60,000 people calling in each day for your instant epiphanies,
you can’t rag on all of them. You need symbols.

So Dr. Laura picked Sara Miller of Simsbury, a girl who seemed to respect
no law but her own. It was the epitome of Dr. Laura’s pet issue:
``Hyper-individualism - the elevation of the individual to one of
billions of different equal gods.’’

She blasted that Miller kid’s name from 450 stations.
Downright savaged the child.
What a spewing:

``If she was my daughter,’’ Dr. Laura said, ``I’d probably put her up for adoption.’’
``Poor Sara doesn’t get it,’’ she continued. ``When she makes her marriage vows
and her husband has sex with everybody else, let’s see if she thinks
that this philosophy works.’’

Calling for Sara’s death was maybe a bit over the top, but Dr. Laura had
been reading an article in National Geographic about recently discovered
graves of Incan children whose parents offered them for sacrifice.
So she was on that subject.

And what was really so bad?  Since Sara believes all cultural values are equal
and everybody can just do whatever they want, Sara
``should be the first child to get sacrificed,’’ Dr. Laura said.

``Hello, Sara, all laws are moral judgments - like the one that says I shouldn’t kidnap you.’’
``It’s not wrong to punch somebody else, that’s just your own personal preference.’’
``Well, let’s take down the traffic lights.’’

``If this is what wins in the state of Connecticut as a philosophical argument,’’
Dr. Laura said, ``Connecticut is in trouble, and so is the country.’’

``If’’ is right.

Sara never argued anything of the sort.
Her essay was solely about values an individual uses to select Internet material.
But, hey, when you’re cooking and you don’t have the exact ingredients,
don’t you use whatever you got?

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sounded a bit prickly about the whole thing -
and Dr. Laura’s failure to read the whole essay.

``Your attack on Sara Miller was appalling,’’ he wrote Dr. Laura last week.
``Her first sentence reflected more care than your entire diatribe.
Since you have been doing what you do for so long’’ -
(You think he’s taking a shot at her age?)  ``I hestitate to give advice,’’ he said,
but you should ``check your facts before you throw stones.’’

He didn’t know that Dr. Laura gives criticism but doesn’t take any. It is her policy
never to permit callers on air who disagree, though they can fax if they want.
The machine takes those.

(ha ha - great line)

She loves taking feedback, but how can she justify it morally with so many
callers on the line who want her to direct their sorry lives? Time spent on
the line with the disgruntled leaves less time for hurting new callers.
You do the triage.

Dr. Laura could try to make nice with Sara.
Send her flowers, have a limo take her to the studio for a visit, but what for?
C’mon. If you had surging, superpowerful Lau-wrath would you waste it on non-demon seed?
Four kids from Sara’s English class who also won essay honors she calls
``more fetid water from the same fetid pond.’’

When you hear poetry like that, you know why she gets the big money and
why she gets to have her own TV show.   She’s the Queen of All Media.
She’s beyond having to prove herself when it comes to mothering.

Don’t forget who’s the original ``I am my kids’ mom.’’

A M Y . P A G N O Z Z I  is a general news columnist for The Courant
Send email to her at tellamy@courant.com

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