Dr. Laura's carelessness distressingOct. 24, 2000
These days of Baylor's rise as a pro-ecclesia, post-modern university have been met with some resistance. It is an invariably unavoidable consequence of growth that national radio personality, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, addressed regarding my article that appeared in The Lariat on Oct. 12.
The article addressed the stigma of expulsion associated with out-of-wedlock pregnancyat Baylor. Dr. Jimmy McCluskey clarified the university's stance as 'redemptive.' He also said that even though expulsion may have been resorted to in the past, 'with the changing of times and changing of culture, we have adjusted our policies accordingly.'
Before quoting the beginning of the article, Schlessinger offered a disclaimer: 'This is depressing. When the religious schools start collapsing, it just all gets depressing.'
After quoting the first three sentences, she attacked Baylor's Christian tradition and asked, 'Does that mean that Jesus got zapped at Baylor?' Her assumption was that the somewhat ambiguous policy deemed unmarried, pregnant students as appropriate with 'the changing of times and the changing of culture.'
Unfortunately, the truth is that the average person would not have read past what she
read; but as we all know, willingly or not, she is not the average person.
Schlessinger has a doctorate in physiology from Columbia University, is a licensed family counselor and a published author. Most relevant here, however, is that she is a recognized opinion leader.
My contention is not that she attacked Baylor's policy --there are aspects of university policy that I might address if I had my own radio show -- but that even with the weight of influence that she carries, she spoke last Monday without knowing any more than the people who listened to her.
In my opinion, the notion of 'blind leading the blind' is a bit dangerous. More important is that it was her choice to ignore the rest of the article or just stop reading altogether. It was not that she had a handicap of ignorance, then, but a mask with which she veiled her own eyes. I am not sure what business an opinion leader has making judgments and defamatory comments about a subject of which she knows nothing but a few sentences.
When the American public crucifies presidential candidates for lying and bases opinion on ignorance, should we not also bring into the arena of scrutiny those who supposedly voice our otherwise unheard cries?
To her credit, she cleared up the confusion on the following Wednesday, after administration contacted her. Even then, the points of clarification she made on were stated explicitly in The Lariat article. If Schlessinger had been just a little more meticulous in research, the situation could have been avoided completely.
I am not trying to defend myself, McCluskey or even the university. Constructive criticism and accountability are crucial to maintaining high standards. Her attacks, polluted with insults and sarcasm, however, were not constructive, nor were they grounded.
Though her uncompromising stances on issues are admirable, Schlessinger could lose more than respect if she continues to choose carelessness over credibility.
Revekah Kim is a senior journalism major from Carrollton.