Monday, July 1, 2013

Public's overreaction to Paula Deen is like a bad doughnut stew.

Okay, I have never made a doughnut stew, but I am sure Paula Deen had a recipe for it.  It seems that everyone is taking a stand against Paula Deen and the media can't understand why people would still support her.  I fear that many people are reacting to this scandal because it is public and in the media, but they have no details behind it.  Stores are dropping her, the Food Network has cancelled her show, and book publishers are ending their contract.  Why?  It seems to be that Paula Deen used the N word many years ago. (You know, the N word I have to discuss with my students on why it was used in that Twain story.)  A Paula Deen local paper actual explains what has been going on.  It appears that she had admitted using the word after she had been held up while working as a bank teller.

This makes her a racist?  I hear worse comments when listening to the coffee drinkers gather around at work.  Have we become overly sensitive to derogatory remarks about race or sexual preference?  No, I think we have just become stupid to the approach that we have taken.  Racism, sexism, and all the other isms still exist and we need to combat them, but not by overreacting when it suits us.  Begin by changing yourself, then teach people why their actions and words may be offensive.  Show them a human side to the equation.

I remember in college Rush Limbaugh had his own TV show and was constantly using the phrase "Femi-Nazi" to describe women that didn't agree with him.  One of our teammates watched the show and used the term once during an extemp-filing night with another teammate in a "joking" fashion.  She became incensed.  Why?  She is a woman that believes strongly in women's rights and is Jewish.  She had family that had been lost during the Nazi Holocaust.  She explained to him and those around her that the phrase hurts her.  It is not something that should get thrown around because it is thought to be clever and cute.  It is truly insensitive to use.  You want to know something.  I can't remember anyone using that term again on our team.

Paula Deen may have racist thoughts.  She may have used the N word several years ago.  She may even comment on the complexion of another person's skin from time to time.  That doesn't mean we should pretend that we need cut all ties with her.  Don't celebrate that Paula Deen has been dropped from all those stores or TV shows.  Open up and reflect about your own failures, don't use Paula Deen as a scapegoat to sacrifice your own guilts.

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