The Flogging of Paula Deen

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.



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10 Responses to The Flogging of Paula Deen

  1. Karen says:

    I certainly agree Mark. Paula Deen has received more negative attention than an Axe Murderer! I’m sure everyone has been guilty of making racists comments during their lifetime. My first thought when I saw this on the news was “Really! You hear worse than what she said watching everyday TV. Obviously, I am a big fan of hers and I love her “rags to riches” life story. She worked very, very hard to get where she is today. I have a lot of respect for this lady. I have been to her restaurant several times and love her great quality, reasonable priced kitchen products. She is one of the most “real” celebrities out there and of course, I love her sweet Southern personality.

    • Mark says:

      Thank you, Karen. I know millions of people feel as you do, which is a testimony to the good that Paula has done. It’s a shame that none of that is taken into consideration by the many who want to tar and feather her.

  2. Jeanine says:

    Thank you Mark for putting words to my thoughts. Well said!

  3. Very well stated and in so doing, you have exposed a lot of the blatant hypocrisy demonstrated in our culture these days — if we were to take much of the mass media seriously in regard to references to Paula Deen, she would be so far down on the list of historical “bad guys” that even Adolph Hitler would have to use binoculars looking down to see her!

    • Mark says:

      Thank you, Clayton. You are right. Paula Deen would never rank among the great “bad guys” of history, though you’d never know that from how she’s being treated. Perhaps as a culture we have become so upside down in our view of evil that we have forgotten what a true bad guy looks like.

  4. Jackie says:

    Thank you, Mark, for pointing out how the hypocrisy is pathetic, especially from big stores such as WalMart that sell CDs with vulgar/racist lyrics from famous hip-hop “artists” (my kids have some CDs on which I have had heard disgusting filth: demeaning treatment of women, hatred of police, complete racism, including the “N word”, etc. – disgust that amounted to me making a donation of the CDs to Goodwill Industries). My kids, and all kids for that matter, deserve better.

    • Mark says:

      Thank you, Jackie, for being a committed parent, for taking charge of what your kids are listening to. We need more parents who will do that. Bravo!

  5. Vanessa Russell says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Mark! You wrote exactly as I’m thinking and feeling. I just don’t get it. Where is this burning Paula at the stake (steak?) coming from? I was shocked at all the sponsors who jumped on the wagon together and kicked her off. Why are they all playing high judge when they’re making money selling her products? I bet George Foreman could sing “Honky white trash” all day and Walmart would still sell his “mean-lean-machine”. Something, somewhere went terribly wrong.

    • Mark says:

      Vanessa, I, too, was shocked by all the sponsors who jumped ship so quickly…and even her publisher abandoned a book project. It’s their right, of course. But people have done far worse and suffered far less. I just don’t get it.

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