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In ‘Pornography’ Protest, Dr. Laura Does Store Dirty

I wonder how Dr. Laura Schlessinger would handle a call like this to her radio show:

“Hi, Dr. Laura. First-time caller. Like you, I also have a nationally syndicated radio program. Last month, my son and I shopped for clothes at a surf wear store in Orange County. While there, I browsed a skateboarding magazine that, to anyone grounded in reality, would be construed as raunchy and sophomoric in some places. However, I went on my national radio show, identified the store by name and told millions of listeners that the store is a proud purveyor of pornography. Dr. Laura, was I wrong?”

One would hope that the real Dr. Laura, talk-show host and best-selling author, would, in her wisdom, tell the caller to get a grip.

Sadly, Dr. Laura should have had that advice for herself before using her airwaves for a few minutes on July 26 to eviscerate the Beach Access store at South Coast Plaza.

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As a result of her little on-air snit, the shop’s owners have demanded a formal retraction. That is often a precursor to legal action, and, in fact, the couple’s attorney says Dr. Laura slandered his clients, Tom and Leslie Moore of Irvine.

The magazine that offended the good doctor is Big Brother Skateboarding, which, in the current issue, is full of photos of skateboarders. In addition, some articles feature what could charitably be called raunchy frat house language.

Pornography?

Not in your dreams.

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It doesn’t matter that Dr. Laura doesn’t know pornography when she sees it; it’s that she accused the store of making it available to children. I don’t know if what she said is illegal, but it’s a cheap shot, by any definition.

In her on-air remarks, Dr. Laura mentioned that Big Brother Skateboarding is published by Hustler magazine magnate Larry Flynt, which is true.

Her comments, which were made available on the Internet, included this: “You might want to know that Beach Access at South Coast Plaza . . . intentionally put a Hustler magazine, pornographic, aimed at kids, hidden under the name Big Brother Skateboarder, intentionally, on purpose, and they are proud of it.”

In case it isn’t clear: The store doesn’t make Hustler available. The “pornography” Dr. Laura saw was in the skateboarding magazine.

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Most people, I suspect, would laugh at all this. Tom Moore, who owns the South Coast Plaza shop and two others in Riverside and Brea, is not one of them.

“I’m pretty outraged,” he says. “My nature is pretty much laid-back, but I feel like she really took advantage of her situation and she had an audience and I think she used it as a bully pulpit. I don’t know what her intent was, but it seems to me when you viciously make those kind of remarks about someone, you’re trying to hurt somebody.”

I couldn’t reach Dr. Laura or her press agent to see if she plans to apologize. I listened to the Internet tape of her remarks and while dolling it up with her standard hybrid of cutesiness and edge, Dr. Laura clearly lumped Beach Access in with other companies or businesses that, in her words, “intentionally [do] things to harm children.”

She, in effect, asked her millions of readers to consider boycotting Beach Access.

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Moore says the shop has received a large number of threatening or negative phone calls. His attorney, Andrew Guilford, says the company hasn’t assessed whether Dr. Laura’s remarks have affected sales.

Like I said, you could almost laugh at a grown woman’s reaction to a skateboard magazine, however raunchy it is in places. Big Brother certainly doesn’t run to my tastes, but to trash a store on national radio for having one on the premises borders on the absurd.

So, why did Dr. Laura let loose on Beach Access? Does she genuinely believe the shop traffics in pornography?

Or is she still steamed at Larry Flynt for the provocative contraband photos Hustler published of her from her younger days? Did the mere presence of a Flynt-related magazine prompt a delayed stress syndrome reaction?

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Only Dr. Laura knows for sure.

If Tom Moore has his way, though, she’ll either give the answer on the air or in a possible deposition.

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Dana Parsons’ column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Readers may reach Parsons by calling (714) 966-7821 or by writing to him at the Times Orange County Edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, or by e-mail to dana.parsons@latimes.com

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