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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Recenlty I started a "Paula Deen" topic on a board to see if I could coax anything resembling rational thought out of posters there.  I failed utterly, but as a minor positive result of this fracas, one of my opponents posted this link to an editorial by a lawyer named Daryl K. Washington, posted on the BLACK LEGAL ISSUES website on 6-29-13. 

Like most individuals who became acquainted with the Paula Deen controversy in the past month or so, I knew that Deen had been accused of racial and sexual violations with respect to her restaurant staff, but few details about the alleged violations made it into the news.  What most national news concentrated on was that Deen had admitted in a sworn deposition that she may have used The Big Taboo Word at times in her life.  But because she admitted this, the media went on to report, as gospel, the things that her opponent Lisa Jackson claimed that Deen said.  Washington is a little more careful than most media-outlets to report the most famous of these as "alleged," but  he nevertheless prints it in full, possibly because he's aware of its power to inflame:

Paula Deen, while planning her brother's wedding in 2007, was asked what look the wedding should have. She replied, "I want a true southern plantation-style wedding." When asked what type of uniforms the servers should wear, Paula stated, "well what I would really like is a bunch of little n*ggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around...
It's amazing to see how many online media-sites report that Deen admitted to saying this.  What she confirms in her 6-11-13 deposition is that she thought about having a "traditional Southern wedding" in 2007, but did not do so because she anticipated an adverse reaction from the media. I read her entire deposition, and at no time does she claim that she used The Taboo Word in public, or within the hearing of anyone who might be offended by it.  Here's what she really says:

I don’t recall that. I recall – I do recall, once again, in my bathroom at the house, and why we would have been in the bathroom, I was probably filming and changing clothes, that’s the only reason why we would have been in that bathroom, they must have run out during my lunch break or something from filming, and I remember us talking about the meal.
And I remember telling them about a restaurant that my husband and I had recently visited. And I’m wanting to think it was in Tennessee or North Carolina or somewhere, and it was so impressive. The whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie. I mean, it was really impressive.
And I remember saying I would love to have servers like that, I said, but I would be afraid that somebody would misinterpret.

She also states very clearly that she does not use the Taboo Word in public because she tries to call people what they want to be called:

What I find interesting about Washington's post is that he opens by admitting that "many people have been making this incident about the "N" word only," but neglects to mention that this is because the media chose to focus only on this aspect because, for one big reason, the case has yet to be tried and no one knows what validity, if any, claimant Lisa Jackson's assertions have.  No one knows what evidence she can muster.

Washington, for example, uses the word "alleged" in one sentence, and then turns around and treats the allegation as a declaration of irreproachable fact.

Paula Deen indicated that she used the N word over 20 years ago. That is not what's being alleged against her. She went as far as telling a guy he was as black as a blackboard. That lady is something else and I'm glad I never supported any of her ventures. 

Later, after citing all of Jackson's allegations against Deen, Washington immediately demands that she should not be given a "free pass," hearkening back to an argument he made in the first paragraph, where he claims that:

I personally find it to be offensive whenever someone from another race is accused of using the "N" word they are somehow given a pass because of the use of the "N" word by some in the black communities. Let me be the first to say that I find the use of the word by anyone to be wrong.

Washington is right about this much: if there is any verifiable proof that Deen or her employees instituted a racially divided workplace-- as in requiring that black workers use a specific bathroom-- then neither Deen nor anyone else should be given a "free pass" for that.

But my point is that the media has drawn attention ONLY to The Taboo Word, and that as a result of that ALONE, many of Deen's sponsors have deserted her PRIOR to any findings by the court.  The lawyers who inquired into Deen's history with the Taboo Word are of course required to do so in order to build their case, but that doesn't mean that Jackson's case isn't falsified, be it only in part or in toto.

One of the reasons that the media feels free to quote Jackson's accusation as veracious, of course, is that Deen had the temerity to admit that she once considered holding a Southern-style wedding with black waiters impersonating slaves.  To many people, this is an outright admission of a nostalgia for the actual condition of slavery. It's not hard to find books or movies-- like some of those in the oeuvre of Shirley Temple-- that romanticize the institution of slavery.  But here we're dealing with what George Orwell might describe as a "thought-crime;" Deen committed the crime of simply *thinking* about indulging in a Southern-style wedding.  She didn't actually DO it, but even to admit to thinking about it is, for some people, tantamount to incriminating her in genuine workplace abuses.  If there is substantial testimony that she has lied about her normal habits interacting with persons working in her restaurant, as with the ALLEGED "blackboard" remark, then that testimony may expose her as a practicing racist.

But thinking about doing things offensive to others is not, contrary to Jesus of Nazareth, anywhere near as bad as actually doing them, as implied by Matthew 5:28--

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

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