Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Food Network owes Paula Deen an apology

English: The logo of Food Network.
English: The logo of Food Network. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As a Food Network viewer for almost as many years as it has been on the air, I am appalled that it would fire Paula Deen over her so-called racist remarks. This is not the same Food Network that taught me how to slice onions and dice tomatoes with my butcher knife or demonstrate the ease of preparing fresh, whole food. I'm grateful to the early days of the Food Network that introduced me to cooks like Sara Moulton, Emeril Lagassee, Tyler Florence, Bobby Flay, and of course Paula Deen.

I was moved by Deen's story. She is beyond a doubt, a likable character who has always had an infectious charm about her. But beyond that, she epitomized the strong, successful women whose first priority was to raise her children and to make a living. Paula Deen had to have a little luck on her side too along with a savvy business sense, because she not only achieved her goals, but turned her ideas into a virtual empire. Now, it is coming crashing down for no good reason.                                                                                                       The Paula Deen story, that has unfolded on the pages of network news, in social media, and across the tabloids is not about the woman I have watched for years on television. The woman I've come to know is not at all hateful, yet she is accused of being a racist. The motive behind such an accusation would require hatred. Paula Deen just doesn't seem to fit the bill.
Now, I will admit; I don't personally know the woman. I simply know her image. I know the personality she projects. She could be one way on camera and another way in real life. But, I don't think that is the case. 

This isn't even a credible news story

What I have heard and read about this case which has focused on Paula Deen, is not a complete story and should have never gone beyond tabloid status. While on that subject, something should be done to regulate tabloids that print whatever they feel like, whether it is credible or not. It does a terrible disservice to the subjects of its rants and to the gullible reading public. What was even far worst was how mainstream media grabbed onto this story to further sensationalize a non-story story much the way it grabs all things these days. Mainstream media isn't much better than the tabloids. Sadly, our society is paying the price. 

As a reader, I'd like to know more about Lisa Jackson, the plaintiff in this case. What is her motive? Is it just money? Was she really wronged? I read some of her deposition. She might have a case, but I doubt it. This reads more like a story of two kids getting into some battle on the playground; one goes to tattle to the teacher; the other enlists mommy for help. There are real problems that must be solved in the courts. This kind of foolishness isn't one of them. It wastes time and tax dollars and is frivolous at best.

It appears to me that Jackson has little legal leg to stand on. And, she has hired a bully of a lawyer. Paula Deen Enterprises is a lucrative business and has plenty of money. The thing is, Paula Deen isn't even the principle in the complaint. This is about her brother, for whom she is very loyal. He owns a restaurant  which she financed. He owes her thousands of dollars. Lisa Jackson worked for him. 

If I had to categorize this case, I would say that Deen's brother drinks a little too much; when he does he has a big mouth. I don't believe him to be a criminal. If he has a problem, perhaps a few Alcoholics Anonymous meetings would be in order. Or, perhaps seeing how much this has harmed his big sister may be enough to shake him into sobriety.

Is racism defined by name-calling now?

Deen may be living the life of a sophisticate, but I doubt that is who she really is. She was likely intimidated by the legal process for which she found herself entangled. Knowing she must tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that is probably why she admitted freely that she had used the term 'nigger' in the past. She is right in asking, who hasn't? Since when did speaking a mere word signify a criminal behavior? 

That is one more thing that this case should highlight. Using the word 'nigger' isn't nice. But in itself, it is not a crime. IT IS A WORD! That is all it is. What is most important in determining whether or not a crime was committed is the motive behind it. If it is used in a hate crime, that has a very different connotation. That is probably why RAP artists are not arrested every time they use the word 'nigger' in a song. 

Perhaps we can all take a lesson here. Name-calling is not high on the priority list of things wrong with the world. If you know who you are, why do you care what others think of you? Why worry about what someone calls you? Chances are they are the one with the problem; not you. In my day, we called that developing a thick skin. If you just worry about yourself; don't let yourself be affected by someone that wants to demean or discredit you. You must know better. Be confident in who you are. Chances are if someone wants to call you names, they are just trying to bring you down to their level. Just don't let them get away with it. Be better than that. We need to solve our petty problems among ourselves. Things like this do not belong in the courts.

Food Network, you have done yourself a disservice. At the very least, you owe Paula Deen an apology.

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