Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Should Dr. Laura Be Prosecuted?

From time to time, I find myself driving around town between 3pm and 5pm, which is when Dr. Laura Schlessinger's radio show airs. I generally detest Dr. Laura. I think she's rude, arrogant, she doesn't listen to people when they talk (something that, in my opinion, is pretty important for a therapist), and she's deceptive. By that I mean, she calls herself Dr. Laura, which is in and of itself not deceptive, except that she holds herself out as a therapist when her Ph.D. is in something like exercise physiology. Apparently you don't have to be good or even a real therapist to be a radio therapist, but I digress. The other day I was listening to her show and someone called in to talk about the fact that their cousin was molested by a family member at around age 12 and is around 16 or 17 now. The person was asking for advice on how to confront the family member about it, and how to proceed. Dr. Laura's response was to tell the caller that they needed to contact the authorities (true) because "once she turns 18 you can't press charges." Now, aside from being objectively wrong (the statute of limitations on sexual assault varies from state to state but there usually isn't anything prohibiting prosecution once the victim hits the age of majority; at any rate the statute of limitations isn't in danger of running out after 6 years in most places), I would argue that this constitutes legal advice. If someone comes to me with a legal problem (say, a crime has been committed against them) and I tell them "here are the legal steps you need to take to resolve this issue," I am practicing law. Does Dr. Laura have a law license? Is she authorized to give legal advice in any jurisdiction? No. I don't see why I'm prohibited by law from doing this as a law student, yet she can do it on a nationally syndicated radio show and no one says anything about it. Now of course the defense to this is that she's not holding herself out as a lawyer, but I still think there's a pretty strong case since she is holding herself out as a professional giver of advice. I'm sure the State of Texas would have something to say if I started giving medical advice to my legal clients, even if I didn't hold myself out explicitly as a physician (side note: since I'm getting a Juris Doctorate, can I call myself "Dr. Justin" and give out medical advice on a radio show even though my degree is in a totally unrelated field?) I say Dr. Laura should be charged with practicing law without a license and tried in a court of law. Let's hold her to the same ridiculously judgmental standards to which she holds everyone else.

I'm Dr. Laura, and I'm my kids' mom an awful, shrill human being.

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