The brouhaha over Dr. Laura's use of an unfortunate label and her "First Amendment rights" is, I think, missing the larger point about bias in America. The average citizen perhaps thinks, 'Today I don't discriminate; I suspect only one of my friends ever would; and those times when it could be said that I myself discriminated are so few and so long ago... we as a country are over that now.'
I've said it here before. If you're white, you have no idea. The only reason I have a clue is that I have a biracial sibling who would like few things better than to see the country get over its hurtful bias thing. We are not over it.
To me, Dr. Laura's labeling misfire reveals that, in her heart of hearts, she thinks the 'N' word applies to people of color, describes them in some way that makes sense. I think so because, for myself, if I don't believe that any population deserves the label "gu*nea" or "sp*c" (as examples), then I don't use (and have not used) those words. That some African-Americans use the 'N' word bothers me until I remember that GLBT citizens long ago reclaimed the word "queer" via the Queer Nation. (Now we have to figure out what to do about the word "gay" being a derogatory slur.)
Going a little deeper into it: Every time I hear a person of color say it, my gut churns a little, BECAUSE I know that word used to be uttered, without care or reflection, on the other side of the color line. And I think I'm SUPPOSED to remember. I think we all are.
As to the First Amendment issue, read here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2010/08/18/129275433/laura-schlessinger-gets-back-the-first-amendment-rights-she-always-had