Saturday, June 29, 2013

Paula Deen is being raked over the coals over this n-word biz...

Today's post may be a bit profane...

Over the past week, I have observed with interest the way corporate client after corporate client has dumped Paula Deen.  WalMart, Target, Sears, JC Penney, Ballentine books, the list goes on and on...  They are "phasing out" her products.

This kind of reminds me of ten years ago, when country music turned its back on the Dixie Chicks because they said they were ashamed that George W. Bush was from Texas.  They essentially got blackballed for being candid, just like Paula Deen is being busted for allegedly being racist.  Incidentally, I seem to remember Dr. Laura and Don Imus being kicked off the airwaves for similarly racist comments.

I could take Paula Deen or leave her.  I've seen her show on the Food Network, though I've never eaten at her restaurant.  I tried one of her recipes and wasn't all that impressed with it.  Some people seem to love her, while others are delighting in this turn of events that has threatened to destroy her career and reputation.

I had an interesting thought as I was reading a product review on Epinions.  My good friend Freak369 wrote it.  It's a review of David Allan Coe's 1990 album Nothin's Sacred 18 X-Rated Hits.  Basically, David Allan Coe released an album full of extremely racist, profane, violent and sexually explicit music.  I checked on Amazon.com to see if it was for sale there.  Much to my surprise, it wasn't.  I did find that someone had posted the entire album on YouTube.  The post got 715 likes and only 53 dislikes.  That makes me think there are a whole lot of racists out there...   Many of them posted comments on the video that were very blatantly racist.

Funny, though... I was around in 1990 and I never heard a word about this album by David Allan Coe.  Heard a lot about 2 Live Crew, a black group that put out a couple of infamous albums that I heard for the first time when I was in college, but never once at my very southern college did I hear anything about David Allan Coe.  Incidentally, I listened to a little of Coe's album on YouTube.  It is vile.  On the other hand, so is 2 Live Crew's stuff, which is also sexually explicit, profane, violent, and very racist.  2 Live Crew did get banned at one point and even wrote a song for Florida's then governor Bob Martinez called "Fuck Martinez".



"Fuck Martinez" is one of 2 Live Crew's tamer songs... NSFW or around kids, obviously.

Yeah, there was a lot of controversy about it back in the day, but it only seemed to make the material more appealing.  2 Live Crew's album Nasty As They Wanna Be was like forbidden fruit, despite the fact that it was loaded with utterances of the n-word.  Incidentally, 2 Live Crew's albums are all available to purchase on Amazon.com.

Likewise, if you go by YouTube "likes", many people apparently love David Allan Coe's racist album full of X-rated hits, again, full of songs that liberally use that word for which Paula Deen is now being raked across the coals.

If you read this blog, you probably know that I'm not a fan of burying language or symbols.  I think all words have their place.  Besides, most words that are "phased out" for being offensive eventually get replaced by other words that also become offensive.  I don't say that I think people should be going around using hurtful or derogatory language, but I do think it's a bit extreme for someone to be completely destroyed over misusing language or saying something that offends some people.  We do have freedom of speech in this country.  It's something my husband puts on a uniform and fights for everyday.

While I guess I can't blame companies for distancing themselves from Paula Deen in the aftermath of this scandal, I also think the evidence shows that most people don't care that much that she used the word *nigger* 30 years ago.  Yes, I know there's more to the story-- I've heard about her comments about the southern plantation wedding and the dancing middle aged black men in white jackets.  I've heard that her brother was supposedly racist in the workplace.  I have to say, it surprises me that it's taken this long for all of this stuff to come out, if Deen and her brother were that blatantly offensive.

On the other hand, I also think that people ought to be allowed to vote with their wallets.  It seems to me that the media and corporations are trying to decide for Americans how we should feel about Paula Deen.

The other day, I was on Amazon.com looking for a southern cookbook.  Just for fun, I checked out Paula Deen's first cookbook and saw a whole lot of very recent five star reviews written by people who had purchased the book just on principle.  For a minute, I considered following suit... but then I decided I'd rather have a copy of The Glory of Southern Cooking by James Villis.  I also bought a copy of a cookbook written by Mama Dip (Mildred Council), a black woman who opened a very successful soul food restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  I ate there once, since I have a sister who lives there.  It's good southern food.

I guess the point of today's post is that most people have functioning brains and they know what they like and don't like.  If they have a sense of right and wrong, they are capable of being exposed to people who say or do objectionable things.  Yes, Paula Deen is in a position of influence, but so were the guys in 2 Live Crew and David Allan Coe.  Their careers weren't affected the way Paula Deen's has been.

I hate to see political correctness running amok.  Moreover, as someone who loves media, I think censorship has a chilling effect on society.  Telling people what they can or can't say in public doesn't change their attitudes.  I think that's really what we should be focusing on, not banning certain words that our society has decided are too objectionable.

           

4 comments:

  1. I agree. The "N" word isn't one I've ever used personally to the best of my knowledge because I wasn't exposed to the word until I was old enough to know that it can be very hurtful. That's my reality, though. I'm not the official determiner of political correctness of language for everyone else.

    Penalizing a person for being honest in a deposition seems a bit extreme. Then there's the issue of weighing one person's misdeeds against another's. Why is Chris Brown's career appearing to thrive after physically assaulting someone, yet for the mere admission of using an inflammatory term, the rug is being pulled from Paula Deen? (She grew up in a time and place where such usage was common.) What she said still falls under First Amendment protection. She did not yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. I'd also like to know how many executives and board members who voted to relieve her of her duties at Food Network or voted to cut off her sponsorships can say in all honesty that they've never used the "N" word.

    Perhaps Ms. Deen just needs new sponsorships. perhaps NASCAR would be willing to sign her on.

    Unless I've missed something, it seems that Ms. Deen's former colleagues at the Food Network have been conspicuously silent, as in if they speak out in her favor, they, too, will be branded as racists. I'd really like to see Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, Giada de Lorentis, Alton Brown, and others speak up on Ms. Deen's behalf. They don't have to condone the use of the "N" word. They could simply say that the Paula Deen they know has not shown racist tendencies, and that the few instances of uses of inflammatory language do not represent the whole person that is the Paula Deen they know. They would hardly be risking their own empires by doing such.

    if the food Network and varioussponsors can boycott Psaula deen for admitting under oarth to a lack of political correctness on rare occasions, other can boycott the Food network and those sponsors who chose to abandon Ms. Deen. and I say this with the belief that the food Ms. Deen cooks is virtually toxic, thogh loved by many.

    If someone doesn't stand up to the Czars of political correctness, we'll all eventually pay for our silence in the face of First Amendment violations.

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  2. To Giada's credit, she did make a statement... Basically, her show went on in place of Paula's and she was getting hate mail over it. She said the Paula she knew was very kind and didn't use racist language, but she nothing to do with the schedule change.

    Growing up in the south in the 70s and 80s, I heard that word many times... but in that time period, you'd hear it on sitcoms like The Jeffersons, All In The Family, and even Gimme A Break. Nowadays, you hear all kinds of words that were taboo back then, but God help you if you use the n-word.

    Anyway, I don't like hypocrisy. Paula Deen is certainly not the only one who's said something like that. Seems like a lot of people think all the hoopla is ridiculous. This may end up backfiring... or maybe Paula's departure will give a chance to another budding chef. Who knows?

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    1. It's not really Paula about whom I'm most concerned, although I do think she's being treated unfairly. I'm more concerned about the whole PC speech restrictions, which apparently have extended themselves beyond public proclamations and "on the record" speech into private conversations.

      I'm glsd Giada spoke up. If every major Food Network star refused to do anything for FN once their current contracts were to expire, FN would have no choice but to change its stance. Again, I care less about Paula Deen than about the principle. In terms of someone else getting a chance at stardom in place of Paula FN is more likely to give Guy Fieri one more show.


      The whole political correctness thing has become today's equivalent of the Salem witch trials, Joseph McCarthy's 50' commie hunt, and the 1989 McMartin child molestation mass hysteria.

      I very much don't like the "N" word (particularly when someone of the redneck persuasion with the equivalent to Jethro Bodine's 6th-grade education uses it to describe our nation's president) but it's become the
      impiety or blasphemy that trumps all other insult and makes anything else that was said irrelevant. This is morally wrong. It's a word; a repugnant word, but still just a word.

      In many circles, the "N" word has become something that trumps all other words that were exchanged and makes everything else irrelevant. While the use of the "N" word is hardly a display of class, neither is it illegal.

      It is against the rules, as it should be, to use the "N" word in school settings, but when my mom had to leave her district office position to play principal at some school when the real principal had an extended illness or lengthy jury duty stint, she'd periodically have to mediate disputes in which the "N" word was a factor. (My mom said that two things ignited the tempers of African American students faster than anything else: the use of the "N" word and any insult to one's mother. We white kids didn't seem to care what anyone said abut our moms, and were sometimes inclined to agree with the person who said it.) Both the student who was on the receiving end of the "N" word, and usually his or her parents if they were called, felt that the use of the "N" word was justification for physical violence. What my mom said she could almost never get through to them was that an administrator has to deal with known facts. A child says he or she was called the "N" word -- often way after the fact - which may or may not have happened, because often no one else heard it. On the other hand, the other child, WAS punched, because it was witnessed by the playground teacher, and the kid also had a black eye as evidence. In virtually every case, physical assault trumps what may or may not have been abusive language that was not heard by a reliable witness. My mom said she should have just made a recording of herself trying to explain to the parents that basically no word justified physical violence, because it would have been about as successful as trying to explain it to the parent in real time.

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  3. Right. I totally agree that political correctness is getting way out of hand. I also agree that people need to realize that words are words and shouldn't lead to physical violence. I understand that people get angry, usually because someone says something that pisses them off. But that's almost never a reason to strike someone.

    LOL... now you've inspired me to write another blog post.

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