StopDrLaura.com

Gay activists go after Paramount, demanding that it cancel plans for a TV show starring the talk-radio moralist.


Donna Ladd
March 1, 2000 10:00PM (UTC)

Are you fat? Queer? Black? Happy? Are you a biological error? Dr. Laura wants to know -- but it's not the Dr. Laura you're thinking of. The questions jump out from the home page of StopDrLaura.com, and DrLaura.org. The sister sites, scheduled to go live Wednesday, are designed to build "a coalition against hate" and to keep the Paramount Television Group from going ahead with its plan to give the moralistic radio talk-show host a TV program.

A preview of StopDrLaura posted on Tuesday quoted Dr. Laura calling gays "products of a biological disorder"; telling the New York Post, "I call homosexual practices deviant"; and musing in a recent issue of Variety, "How many letters have I read on the air from gay men who acknowledge that a huge portion of the male homosexual populace is predatory on young boys?"

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The anti-Dr. Laura site, in turn, will ask visitors to "flood Paramount with calls to stop Dr. Laura," and provide a phone number for chairman Kerry McCluggage.

"Dr. Laura is free to malign any minority she chooses, but Paramount Television is not required to aid and abet in the destruction of our civil rights and the denial of our humanity," says the site. "In the names of Matthew Shepard, Brandon Teena, PFC Barry Winchell, Allen Schindler, Billy Jack Gaither -- in the name of every one of us -- please take a stand against hate."

Also on the site, Emmy-winning executive producer of Paramount TV's "Frasier" David Lee says: "I think it is outrageous that Paramount chooses to be in business with a woman who is, I think, literally dangerous to the gay community. She may not have a club in her hand, but she encourages an atmosphere where those who do wield weapons feel free to use them."

John Aravosis, president of the Internet consulting firm Wired Strategies, is the firebrand behind the site. "She's outrageous. She's beyond the pale of 'I'm a Christian, I don't like gay people,'" says Aravosis, who led the e-mail campaign to expose America Online's outing of gay sailor Timothy McVeigh (not the Oklahoma City bomber). He has also posted a popular Web site paying homage to Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.

"How do you rein in a woman like Dr. Laura?" he asks. His answer is to use the Internet to expose what he calls her "dangerous" views. As Aravosis sees it, when Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, Andy Rooney of "60 Minutes," announcer Jimmy the Greek and writer Jimmy Breslin publicly belittled people of other races they got fired or suspended.

Why not Dr. Laura? he wants to know.

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Instead, Paramount TV defends Dr. Laura's right to free speech and is developing and syndicating an hour-long Dr. Laura TV show starting this fall; stations in 90 percent of the country have signed up for the show. Dr. Laura is already broadcast on more than 400 radio stations, berating 18 million listeners each day for having premarital sex or being imperfect parents.

Dr. Laura's condemnation of gays goes beyond the issue of free speech, argues Aravosis. "If someone called a Jew a biological error, you think they'd get a TV show? I don't think so. When you defame African-Americans, it's racism. You defame gay people, it's free speech." Neither Schlessinger nor Paramount returned calls seeking comment.

GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, met with Paramount executives in a closed meeting Feb. 14 to discuss the Dr. Laura show. Afterward, the two sides reported a "positive exchange"; yet many gay activists are criticizing GLAAD because it has not demanded that the show be dropped.

Aravosis believes DrLaura.org will do the trick, however. "The show's going to be canceled. This is going to be living hell for Paramount for the next year at least." The site will list e-mail addresses and phone and fax numbers for the Paramount offices, giving outraged gays and their supporters an easy way to register their disgust over the Dr. Laura show. "E-mails will keep flying and flying and flying. Everyone online who's progressive is going to know that Paramount is a bigot," he said.

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David Goldman of HateWatch.org agrees. "HateWatch.org condemns the bigotry that Dr. Laura uses to dehumanize gay men and lesbians. Had similar remarks been made about blacks or Jews, Paramount would never have given her a show," he says on the site.


Donna Ladd

Donna Ladd writes about technology for the Village Voice, Feed and IntellectualCapital.com, and syndicates her weekly Silicon Lounge column through Alternet.org.

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