Saturday, June 29, 2013

reply to Paula Deen defenders

[Somebody on Facebook was defending Paula Deen. Something like it could happen to anybody. The following is what I wrote in reply, and two responses to another commenter.] Actually it can only happen to people who double down on their racism. If Paula Deen had done the right thing and made a real apology she would still have a show and a book and a product line. I think it's ironic that the same folks who love to defend big corporations for all the profit-motivated-but-bad-for-the-common-good decisions they make, are criticizing the Food Network for making a profit-motivated decision. Obviously they can't touch her with a ten-foot pole, and for good reason! Not to mention she 100% brought it on herself... And I definitely don't see how Deen, a millionaire many times over, deserves a moment of anybody's pity. Her bigoted "values" were more important to her than the millions of dollars she could have made if she had just admitted she was wrong, so she gave the pseudo-apology that she did (after denying that she had done anything wrong!). What she did say is basically a strong stand for sweeping racism under the rug, and frankly that's completely unacceptable in contemporary American society. Racial tensions are still out of control 50 years after the civil rights era, and only because of people like Deen feeling entitled to perpetuate this bigotry. People are entitled to say what they want to say, but they're not entitled to being above reproach! [reply redacted to protect the bigoted... also it's just not uplifting to read this stuff] No, it's not a double standard at all. A double standard is when the same rules don't apply to everybody. This isn't that kind of situation. We don't hold rappers to the standard that we hold cooking show celebrities to. They don't sell products to the same audience. Family audiences have higher standards of propriety. This is why you don't see Eminem on the Today show. It's actually what you should call an appropriate standard. And it's not persecution. Persecution is not what you call it when a rich person loses millions of dollars because of their own words (and nothing other than their own words--nobody else has done anything wrong). It's a business decision that corporations have made. The idea that the media is to blame is just astonishing. Deen is to blame, and nobody else. Do you honestly believe that the media shouldn't report on major social issues? That they should have just remained silent on this? What Deen said is apalling. It's not at all about what she said 25 years agol. What she has said defending the culture of racism in the past month is what got her in trouble. Her firing has not been "driven by the media," it's driven by the standards of human decency. We have decided as a culture that it's just not okay to say things like that, and if you want to sell millions in family entertainment, I just don't see how it's such an unreasonable standard to expect folks not to double down on that delightful plantation wedding scenario. [reply redacted... trust me you don't want to read it. kinda like reading "the comments"] I don't think anybody is arguing that people shouldn't be held to standards. I'm just pointing out that you are dead wrong to compare what is happening to Deen to persecution or a double standard. It's a business decision, and it's one that she made for Food Network et al. That you're comparing a perfectly understandable firing to the ugly reality of historical oppression is appalling. A fair standard is one that doesn't tolerate the kind of bigotry that Deen represents, and no sensible business model is going to try to sell that bigotry. The fact is that Deen has through her own deliberate action gotten tangled up in this history of bigotry. She tarnished her own image by deciding to own that history, and by saying that she refused to apologize for it or change. If you are so upset about the firing, why aren't you angry with her? She could have come out and said that what she did was wrong, but instead she made excuses. She could have made herself into a civil rights hero by taking the simple step of taking responsibility for her actions. I would be the first to sing her praises, even now, if she came out and made a true apology. That would have been truly redeeming, and it would have made better business sense. But she couldn't find fault with the racist aspect of her heritage! Surely you can see that? Instead, the new superheroes of the week are Wendy Davis and Jeantel, who demonstrated real courage in the face of actual persecution on the national stage. Deen would do well to learn from that kind of example. She is in a position to do some real good in the world, but instead she bet everything on her racist identity and now she is paying the consequences. Please explain to me if you think I'm getting any part of this wrong.