I have never been a big Paula Deen fan. I do share her passion for butter and I’ve eaten in her restaurant, but I’ve never been one to watch her show or to care much about her career path. But these last couple of weeks have put her on my radar. I don’t know when I’ve seen a beloved celebrity crash and burn so quickly.
Some of her misery was self-inflicted, of course. The quote she confessed to was offensive and dumb, and yes, she should have suffered some repercussions. I also think she could have handled the aftermath much better. That said, I have come to the point where I am more troubled by the way she is being treated than by what she said. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such merciless piling on.
I’ve heard it said that America is a forgiving nation, that if celebrities and athletes and politicians will just be honest and confess their sins, they’ll be forgiven. I will excuse Paula Deen for laughing at the next person who says that.
It troubles me that in a time when Paula Deen is being vilified for racist remarks, I can go to my local music store and purchase CD’s that are so blatantly racist and over-the-top vulgar that they have to have warning labels attached. Or I can go to a comedy club and listen to comedians of all ethnicities tell jokes that are as racist as they are filthy. Or I can sit in front of a TV and watch an endless string of commercials and sitcoms that portray the typical American male as a muddle-headed, beer-guzzling, sex-obsessed nincompoop.
And this is to say nothing of the way Christians and conservatives are constantly bashed and targeted in America today.
All of this going on around us and we decide to make Paula Deen the devil. Oh yeah, that makes a ton of sense.
I don’t know Paula Deen, but I’m guessing she is basically a decent person who wishes she could have a few do-overs. I could put myself in that boat, too. Who couldn’t?
As I get older, I find that I have less of an appetite for piling on people when they are down. I can recognize bad behavior when I see it and inappropriate speech when I hear it, and I do believe that actions have consequences. But I don’t want to be that Pharisee who is always itching to cast a stone. I find that I’m liking grace better all the time.
I hope Paula Deen bounces back career-wise, though I have my doubts. I’ll probably think of her every time I hear some potty-mouthed comedian or talk show host make an offensive remark toward some demographic group and be cheered for it.