That’s an old song title, ‘Is You Is, or Is You Ain’t My Baby?’ I imagine Dr. Laura is asking herself this about her own son, Deryk. And in spades.

The Schlessinger contretemps, and possibly much worse to come, but then again, perhaps not… surrounds a public allegation and a military investigation ongoing now, that Deryk, 21, who is a young “paratrooper”* stationed in Afghanistan, was presumed to have put up a salacious webpage for himself on myspace. This page included less than honorable warrior ‘confessions’ and braggings about being brutal and unjust, as well as cartoons and pictures depicting child rape, drugs, pedophilia, terrorizing of a family…

The website has since been taken down by the Army, and military spokespersons apparently have said, if these allegations are true, there could be a court martial.

… You can read the article by Matthew D. LaPlante here at The Salt Lake Tribune, which broke the story.

… And the picture that is authenticated, by TMZ, as being one of several of Deryk that were on the alleged Deryk Schlessinger myspace page before it was taken down, is here.

It is said that Dr. Laura has suspended her columns for the time being. I imagine she has arranged to be close to her son right now, perhaps even traveling across the world to be by his side. That is, if she has answered the question in the song, as Yes.

Myself, I’m a mother. A grandmother. A shooter at the local range. Come from old country people who are shooters and hunters. Even so, if I saw one of the men in our family doing what this picture presumably shows Deryk Schlessinger doing—I’d think they, well trained and respectful of firearms, had lost their minds.

As a mother, I would be instantly alarmed for my child’s mental health. The pose looks eerily like one of the pictures Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, took of himself. In the picture that was on the website, it seemingly shows Deryk half-stripped before what looks like a flag perhaps (not an American one it seems). He is giving a thumbs up with one hand, while holding a firearm barrel in his mouth, not aiming it at his mouth, but as it said more crudely where I come from, he is literally sucking iron. Plenty of shots from my time (WWII, Korea and Nam) of solders with shirts off, wearing their ‘dogs’ and holding their rifles. Not in their mouths, however. Unless… something other than just soldier pride was going on.

As a grandmother, I’d want to talk to my daughter and find out what they heck she has been doing to keep an eye on this child… even though he’s way grown up and far from home. And the father of this child, where is he in all of this? It’s well known that we cant direct our grown children’s lives, not even out of love that’s fairly pure, and we cannot prevent bad things from happening to our grown kin, nor sharpen their judgment very much once they’re past the age of 15 or so. But, soldiers know that close ties to home, and having two-way regardful relationships with their parents and other loved ones back home, often saves them getting into trouble of their own making while away.

On the blog discussions about this matter, there is some confusion about the fact that Laura Schlessinger suddenly converted to Judaism about 6 or 7 years ago, Orthodox, she was noted as saying. However, some have noted too that she posed for major magazine spreads afterward in strapless gowns with low cut necklines in a rather complete contradiction of the faith.

I’m not an expert about Orthodoxy in Judaism, although I know some very fine Lubavitchers who are generous and kind… and the Orthodox Jewish women I know are extremely modest, to the point of wearing wigs in public so as to keep to the Law, and would not show up anywhere in a satin off the shoulder gown.

But, apparently she put all that away and publicly proclaimed in 2006 that she was no longer in love with Judaism, and envied the Christians their sincere love of Jesus. There is an article on this matter by the sometimes very enthusiastic Rebbe Boteach. I’d agree on one point, that conversion or being born to a faith that has many rules, is for the long distance runner not the sprinter.

Here is Rebbe’s article on Schlessinger’s about face:

There’s been a lot of talk about Dr. Laura cutting ties with her mother, and the mother dying and not being discovered for a long time after because she had no one to watch over her. Laura on her radio show averred publicly that her mother did not deserve Dr. Laura’s loyalty or friendship.

I don’t know about this family because I don’t know the family, but I do know that the older we become, often the stronger we become. We lay down a little layer of Teflon with regard to some of the hooks our families might bristle with… and we can often bridge to repair what might have been a difficult parent child-relationship long ago, at least we can repair our own 100% of it. The parent’s 100% is up to them, of course, but often with some encouragement and not yelling at them too much, a good many parents can make the turn back and with good will toward their offspring.

And certainly some families never make peace. And, too, there are some parents who are impossible for their grown child to be near and also remain sane, and visa versa too. But I think it can be worthy undertaking.

Yet, even so, I think of the fast turns a person can make in their life, from this side to that side, to breaking away and not coming back, to reversing what one was so passionate about at one time… I wonder, just knowing a little about human nature, what the answer will really be if this child-man is in really big ugly trouble, what will Dr. Laura’s answer be to: Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby? I am imagining right now, without further facts yet, that her answer as a mother of an only child, would still be, Yes.

If the allegation holds however, the Military’s answer to, Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby? is likely to be an resounding, No!
As I researched this article, I found that apparently, right before The Salt Lake Tribune article about Deryk came out, there was another article, also by Mr. LaPlante, about Dr. Laura being in Utah and addressing military wives. When the same journalist (whose been to Iraq twice as a journalist) asked what her advice to the military wives whose husbands were deployed was: she apparently said her advice was to ‘stop whining.’ And quite a few other provocative words as well. You can read that article here:

Also, right after that article, the ombudsman for the newspaper was flooded with many letters protesting The Salt Lake Tribune’s article about Dr. Laura telling military wives to quit whining. Here is the ombudsman’s/ readers’ advocate, Connie Coyne’s response.

*”paratrooper” … This, according to his mother. This may not be the exact assignment. Cannot confirm at this time. (posted by dr.e.)

DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist
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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • dj

    From what little attention I’ve ever paid to her, I’ve always had the impression that Dr. Laura is a very bitter person. Sadly, it sounds like the family issues run deep and wide.

  • Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

    dj, you bring up a fine point that is often overlooked; how
    family members, MOST especially kids, are effected by “fame” of a family member. Often life is hard enough for kids growing up as it is; ( No matter how old people become they’d often take the energy or health of their youth back, but not very often, ‘all the times of that time.’)

    I think, especially if a parent or sibling is the ‘famous’ one, and their fame is often involved in public contentiousness or polarization, I would think that could be hard for a child to carry that to school without having to develop some kind of thick persona to defend him or herself and family
    from those kids who don’t like, or whose parents dont like… the ‘famous’ one…. Or, for that matter, others who “over-like” the famous one… so that the child who must have oppositions with the ‘famous’ parent, in order to be separate and continue growing up independently, finds it difficult to oppose that parent.

  • nic

    much ado about nothing
    yeah, its controversial to say so, but i’m thinking the gun/mouth is oral sex reference, typical young male macho gesturing, dehumanize the enemy so you can do your job cartoons, pretty much a diary that gets found and published full of secret sins or sinful thoughts. lots of folks say they’d like to strangle their boss, in todays world; blog it, and it the self righteous shriek and point like that scene from body snatchers.

  • Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

    Hi nic, thanks for the comment. I don’t know about the sexual reference, but, you’re right about soldiers coping as they can. There’s a saying in the squadrons; some get sick, some arrive that way.