If Paula Deen had used the N-word only once, about thirty years ago

Image from ABC News

when some dude held a gun to her head, like she tearfully told Matt Lauer on the “Today” show…

I’d be the first to rush to her defense. But that’s a flat-out contradiction of her court testimony. Either she lied to the court, or she lied to Lauer.

Mary McNamara from the LA Times asks: did no one pay attention when David Letterman, forced by a blackmailer to make an adulterous affair public, revealed the secret to handling a personal scandal? You show up, own up, and shut up.

There’s a good reason why all these national companies are dropping Deen like a handful of hot grits. Shareholders don’t like controversy, especially involving their spokesmodels.

And yes, there’s a reason black people can throw the N-word around while other people can’t. Just like you could call your little brother a stupidhead idiot, but Janey down the street couldn’t, there are things people within a group can say to one another that an outsider would catch flak for. Yell all you want, but that will never change. There’s also a reason why Wal-Mart has dropped Deen as a spokesmodel, but continues to sell CDs by Jay-Z and DVDs by Chris Rock. Songs and comedy routines are not the same as long patterns of discrimination against real true-life employees. Not even close. “Art” and “life” shouldn’t be held to the same standards. Do you think Johnny Cash really shot a man in Reno just to watch him die? Of course he didn’t.

From Daryl Washington’s excellent blog Black Legal Issues:

I personally find it to be offensive whenever someone from another race is accused of using the N-word they are somehow given a pass because of the use of the N-word by some in the black communities. Let me be the first to say that I find the use of the word by anyone to be wrong.  However, when it’s used in a racist or insulting manner, it hurts more.  

I think individuals who are trying to defend Paula Deen’s use of the N-word should probably familiarize themselves with all of the facts of the case against her. Just so you know, the person who initiated the complaint against Paula Deen and her brother is not black. She is a white female who was subjected to years of abuse, and was finally fed up with her black employees being treated poorly.

From Eric Brewton’s excellent blog liberaleb:

(The N-word): who can say it and who can’t. Let’s just put it all on the table. White people who are enraged over Deen’s firing may have a point, in terms of the punishment not fitting the crime. But stop with the melodramatic cries of, “black people can say it but we can’t.”

First of all, the analogy doesn’t fit. If a prominent African-American in media admitted to using a racial slur against any other ethnic or minority group, including white people, his or her career would take a serious, serious hit. (I’m talking about you, Isiah Washington of “Grey’s Anatomy.”)

This is still America; and Paula Deen is allowed to say whatever she wants, think however she wants, and do whatever she wants provided it is legal (Rush Limbaugh has made millions doing it). That doesn’t mean that some of her First Amendment rights don’t come with some consequences; and if the market you pitch your products to or the network that televises your show has a problem with what comes out of your mouth, they have a right to no longer support you.

No one should feel bad for Paula Deen. The public embarrassment will wear off, another network (possibly even The Food Network) will put her back on TV, and more importantly the millions that she has already made will not be drying up anytime soon.

So to anyone who feels butthurt for Deen being criticized for something people call each other on the street a hundred times a day:

Deen is a celebrity, an employer, and a businesswoman. She’s in the spotlight, and must be careful in her decisions and actions. She has a brand to uphold, employees to retain, and business investors to protect. She should know that discriminating against employees, utilizing racial slurs, and allowing her brother to have free rein of her businesses was just plain stupid. Fame, fairly or not, carries a lot more restrictions on your personal freedom and privacy. People on the street who call each other the N-word do not have two programs on the Food Network, several cookbooks, a nationwide following, photos on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal, and shareholders who expect a return on investment.

Paula is paying a price for her bad business choices. And freedom, including “free speech,” isn’t free. I can’t muster up much sympathy for her.

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2 Comments on “If Paula Deen had used the N-word only once, about thirty years ago”

  1. Robert Hulshof-Schmidt says:

    Nice summary. I was reluctant to reach any conclusions early on given the fairly vicious media feeding frenzy. As events have played out, however, I have to agree with your analysis. Deen has had ample opporunity to step up to this situation and has dodged and whined instead.

  2. […] long ago I provided my take on Paula Deen’s poor choice of words. And last week a very thoughtful poster named Tommy Carcetti posted these […]


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