• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

David Ross

The rise and fall of Paula Deen

203 posts in this topic

Many of the folks piling on with such thoughtful, impartial, considered analysis as, "she's a sack of shit," seem pretty happy they've got this opportunity to crucify her. This really gives them the moral high ground, doesn't it?

Let me say this...

And Im sure people will think Im acting like a moral snob but...Whatevs' ya know?

I never use any racial slurs, I dont say gay slurs, and I most certainly never utter the R word either.

I didnt when I was a kid, didnt when I was a teen, didnt as a young woman or as an adult.

Someone once told me, "People either WANT to do things or they dont want to do them"!

I say its the same with racism, bigotry, sexism, classism, homophobia or other forms of discrimination.

You either do or ya dont...

If you arent a racist those words simply do not enter your mind or vocabulary.

Simple

I, too, have never used racial or ethnic slurs, or told "gay" jokes, etc. I was raised in a family where that was not only unacceptable, it was unthinkable. My father was a B-17 pilot in WWII, with the 8th Air Force, the same unit as the Memphis Belle, flying missions over Nazi Germany. Many of those missions suffered losses up to 75%. My father, to this day, believes that the Tuskegee Airmen's fighter escorts are the only reason he survived. He is an honorary "Red Tail," and knew Benjamin O. Davis personally. My father simply would not tolerate the slightest hint of a derogatory or disrespectful remark about African Americans in our home, and I remember him often sitting in front of the television watching some sort of documentary about the treatment of Blacks in America with tears running down his cheeks. "Isn't that awful?" he'd say to me, "to be treated that way just because of the color of your skin? And after what they did for this country?" One of my earliest memories is of him ordering a dinner guest to leave our home because that guest had said the "N" word. This was when I was about eight years old, back in 1952, hardly a time of vast enlightenment sweeping across our country. In those days, because of my father's position as a senior military commander, my parents entertained a lot, and the standard procedure for dinner parties was to dress up my brother and sister and me in our fanciest outfits, and we would pass hors d'oeuvres to the crowd before being hustled off to bed while the grownups ate dinner. One of the guests used a racial slur in a story he was telling. My father said that that was not acceptable in our home, and asked the guest to refrain from using it again. Whereupon the guest just laughed and repeated it, thinking, I'm sure, that my father would back down, not wishing to create a scene at a formal dinner party. Instead, my father stood up and, steely-eyed, without saying another word, pointed to the door.

But just because I, like you, have not personally committed this particular sin would not, in my view, justify me jumping on a bandwagon to vilify and crucify others that have.

There is a very, very long list of assorted sins, crimes, transgressions, unkindnesses, wrongs, evils, missteps, foibles, faults and failings of varying degrees of severity. I am, like most of us, a flawed human being, so i have committed my share.

But there are a great many sins on the list that I have not committed. I don't believe that, just because I have not committed those sins, it gives me license to behave however I want to those that have. In this case, because I personally have not used racial epithets and believe that to be unacceptable, I don't think that would justify me in treating Paula Deen as though she were some sort of Southern female reincarnation of Hitler, gassing uppity darkies down in the dungeon of her plantation. Rather than what she is - an insensitive ninny.

Do I think there should be no repercussions? Of course not. I think a public and heartfelt mea culpa and some professional setbacks are about right.

Your post seems to indicate that you believe that just because one has not personally committed this particular transgression, one is justified in whatever mean thing, nasty public name-calling, vilification, humiliation, or other punishment he/she cares to mete out to someone that has.

Is that the standard you want to use? Really? And can others use that standard in their treatment of you as well? If I have not done some particular thing wrong and you have, does that fact alone give me the moral right to nail you to the wall?

If so, well, in the immortal words of Soba: "...that's okay; it's not your fault if you think that."

.


Edited by Jaymes (log)
1 person likes this

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are certainly Good words and Bad words, but linguistic intent matters, as Matthias’s executioner learns in Life of Brian.

Matthias: Look, I don’t think it should be a sin, just for saying “Jehovah.”
(Everyone gasps.)

Jewish Official: You’re only making it worse for yourself!

Matthias: Making it worse? How can it be worse? Jehovah! Jehovah! Jehovah!

Jewish official: I’m warning you! If you say “Jehovah” one more time (gets hit with rock) RIGHT! Who did that? Come on, who did it?

Stoners: He! He did! He!

Jewish official: Was it you?

Stoner: Yes.

Jewish official: Right…

Stoner: Well you did say “Jehovah.” (Crowd throws rocks at the stoner.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems clear that Paula D. is an imperfect human. Earlier, I had asked she be judged the same as Tony B. another imperfect human. I have always believed that we are all imperfect and that one of the basic human endeavors was to attempt to modify those imperfections as best we can. We should all hope to change for the better. It is an ongoing struggle for me. I admit to being highly imperfect.

However, my belief has been called into question reading all these posts from those that seem to be beyond any reproach in their humanity. Perhaps they have reached perfection. I salute them for the effort.

I have no idea at all if Paula D. is a racist or not. I don't think any of those condeming her do either. Although one poster seems to have the ability to read minds. She is an easy target. large in size, large in personality, cashed in her moments of celebrity. She is not like us, or like some of us, at least. If she had a centrifuge in her kitchen we would like her a lot more.

we don't like her because she is not like us. Wait a minute, not liking someone because they are not like us? Sounds pretty damn familiar to me.

Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone. Seems we have a fine group here ready to fire away.

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why does this dopey affair get so much attention? I think its because righteous indignation feels good and there are people who are addicted to it. Sad.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's getting this amount of attention because Paula Deen is being pilloried for something she said in private.

There are myriad examples of other people saying and doing much more egregious things on camera who are not receiving the same level of scrutiny. It's selective public humiliation.

Ted Danson appeared at an event in black face. Umbrage taken? Not much.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's getting this amount of attention because Paula Deen is being pilloried for something she said in private.

There are myriad examples of other people saying and doing much more egregious things on camera who are not receiving the same level of scrutiny. It's selective public humiliation.

Ted Danson appeared at an event in black face. Umbrage taken? Not much.

And I believe that Paula Deen is getting this amount of attention, and being pilloried for something she said in private, because there was already a large number of superior people that dislike her, primarily for who and what she is (speaking of bigotry), standing around the bandwagon, bags packed, ready to hop on board, as soon as a valid reason appeared.

The righteous indignation and "off with her head" outcry certainly exceeds the transgression.

And I can't think of any other reason why.

1 person likes this

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mitch, do you not understand that there is an expectation of privacy when one is speaking privately? It's not for public consumption. It's the reason so many are outraged at the NSA spying debacle and view Edward Snowden as a hero for exposing the scope of the spying.

There are doubts about the veracity of the woman who is suing. In the meantime, in the effort to cull some of Paula's dough, she has toppled the PD Empire, cutting off her nose to spite her face.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A regular hat trick. HR probably got a hiring bonus out of that one.


Edited by annabelle (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent article from African-American culinary historian, Michael W. Twitty: http://afroculinaria.com/2013/06/25/an-open-letter-to-paula-deen/

Very interesting. And he's not only African-American, he's gay and Jewish! Quite the minority.

Thanks for linking -- interesting website.

Wow. Wonderful writing. Terrific insight. So very far from the she's-just-a-sack-of-shit sort of "thoughtful" interpretation and commentary we've read here.

And, reading that piece also put me in mind of the marvelous historic cookbooks of Carolyn Quick Tillery, which I recently recommended over in the "Regional Cookbooks" thread:

http://www.amazon.com/Carolyn-Quick-Tillery/e/B001JS2JJM


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mitch, do you not understand that there is an expectation of privacy when one is speaking privately? It's not for public consumption.

In other words, it's when people say what they really believe.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not necessarily. We've all told friends their new hair style is fabulous while thinking otherwise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mitch, do you not understand that there is an expectation of privacy when one is speaking privately? It's not for public consumption.

In other words, it's when people say what they really believe.

So you truly are proposing a social regime of thought crime? Didn't we learn anything from the red scare and McCarthyism? And no, I understand the first amendment, I am talking about social blacklisting for incorrect thought, not government hearings. I'll judge people by their actions, thank you.


Edited by sigma (log)
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some are more equal than others, sigma.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some are more equal than others, sigma.

You got that right.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I think its because righteous indignation feels good "

there is also a whiff of sour grapes: indignation and envy that such a disingenuous person (re: diabetes/cover-up) can make so much money and we dont even get a taste. the N word is just thick frosting on this particular cake.

we will now be moving on to the NFL and Murder in the First Degree.

PD will still have substantial means and a substantial Food Empire.


Edited by rotuts (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

social blacklisting for incorrect thought

I dont think this at all. its about Money and Profit. PD will loose very few of her personal friends over this. indeed some cruise line added another Food Cruise with PD.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should I throw away my LC4 chaise longue? Le Corbusier was a Nazi symp and I am afraid my ass might light on fire from the thought energy. Strike that, he pretty much stole the design from Charlotte Perriand, so maybe I should throw it away because of his misogyny, or because of her radical leftism. I'm so confused, can I just enjoy my damn chair?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The NFL/Murder case only has a weak food link: some sort of purple gum

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

social blacklisting for incorrect thought

I dont think this at all. its about Money and Profit. PD will loose very few of her personal friends over this. indeed some cruise line added another Food Cruise with PD.

No, it really is. If you are labeled a racist you ought to lose your job, be outed in public, shamed. It doesn't matter if you really are, and it certainly doesn't matter whether you are competent, whether you act fairly toward people, what matters is your inner thoughts.

You may have mistaken my use of social blacklisting as blacklisting by her social acquaintances, but I meant blacklisting by "polite" society. Of course, she did use a bad word with her husband back when, and there are accusations, so it is fair anyway. I guess.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I dont think PD moves in that society you term "polite" just a guess. its tough to tack down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does that matter

I dont think PD moves in that society you term "polite" just a guess. its tough to tack down.

Does that matter, rotuts? The very idea that one may be policed by the whims of an ever more politically correct "better" is un-American. We have no "betters". We are all equal under the law and as I asked several pages back, isn't PD being asked to prove a negative in this lawsuit? This is a dangerous path to go down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By way of background, and in the interest of full disclosure, I've lived half my life in the midwest (born and raised) and half in the deep south (nearly all of my adult life). In addition, I'm in a biracial marriage which by definition means that my extended family is just about half black half white. I'm also a lawyer with some experience in defending race/harrasment suits. My $.02:

1. It's all about context. Any racially charged statement or quote really needs to be looked at in context. A lot of Deen's supporters on this thread make that argument (correctly) about Deen but then ignore that same point when they point out that rappers also use the "N-word." I personally can't stand knee jerk reactions to each and every instance the dreaded "N-word" is used without examining the context in which it was used. I would submit that, just for example, the use of that word is very different in the following contexts -- (1) yelled at a KKK rally, (2) used in a rap song, (3) used in Huckleberry Fin, (4) referenced in an academic research paper, (5) said in private conversation in reference to an African American colleague, (6) yelled during a fight. Everyone will have a different perspective on each instance, but my point is that context absolutely matters.

2. It's not just the word. For me, the fact that Deen at some point in her life said the word "N*****" is not, in itself, necessarily damning (see point #1) especailly if she hasn't used the word in a derogatory fashion in recent decades. The far more troubling testimony, if true, is the southern plantation themed wedding with an exclusively black waitstaff. If true, the fact that she doesn't see how that is offensive speaks to a fairly profound lack of empathy in racial matters. Similarly, her off the cuff crack about her driver being as black as the stage background was, for most people I know, a fairly offensive joke.

3. Understanding Deen's "job." The claim that Deen is not getting a free pass like Anthony Bourdain, Bill Maher and the like is completely misplaced. Whether you like them or not, Bourdain and Maher have made careers out of being controversial and saying controversial things. While their controversial positions have, in some ways benefitted their public personas it also limits them in any number of ways. There's a reason, for example, that Maher's show is on HBO late at night and not on CBS, ABC, or NBC. There's a reason Bourdain, for example, doesn't have a show on Food Network or get endorsement deals from Smithfield Ham. Unlike Bourdain, Maher, and pretty much any talk show host on Fox, Deen has carefully cultivated and profited from a nonoffensive image that has broad appeal across all demographic groups. However, just as Deen has every right to make literally millions of dollars from her public persona, Food Network and Smithfield Hams have every right to end that relationship when the public persona changes. Intentionally or not, Deen's current job is largely one that is based on her public perception, something that all know can be fleeting and emphemeral.

4. Who prepped Deen for her deposition. Putting on my lawyer's hat, I have to question her prepping for that deposition. Those were entirely predictable lines of questioning and their were any number of ways to honestly answer the questions in a manner less detrimental to her image. When representing a public figure, especially a public figure whose business is based largely on their image, you need to spend some time thinking through how to answer predictable questions. There's a world of difference between saying "Of course" I've used a racial slur, versus saying, "yes, unfortunately I used a racial slur 30 years ago after I was held up at gun point"

5. I never really had a strong opinion about Deen one way or the other. I don't really see her appeal, but neither do I see all the hate. If folks can get past the knee jerk reactions, instances like this can be an opportunity for greater understanding. Based on what I've heard and read (and assuming it is accurate), I don't think she should have been fired just for the fact that she used a racial slur 30 years ago, provided the other allegations aren't true. In this, I happen to share Bill Maher's opinion who spoke in her defense somewhat on his show last week. On the other hand, I would have a very difficult time getting past her participation in planning a wedding that involved an exclusively black waitstaff, if true, I couldn't imagine keeping her as a spokesperson or on the Food Network for that matter.

6. A short word on Ted Danson. Since someone brought it up, kind of goes to my first point, but the black face routine was made during a roast of Whoopi Goldberg his girlfriend at the time who not only did not have a problem with his routine but actually helped write the jokes in question. I think Ted Danson (and Whoopi to a lesser extent) was rightly criticized for being tasteless, but hardly racist under the circumstances.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well put.

But you didn't touch on a fairly important point, and that's the whole diabetes issue. Letting it slide while knowing about her illness for years, and then all of a sudden becoming a spokesperson for a diabetes drug was really the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, in my book.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.