The Paradoxical Lesson of Paula Deen’s Language (for Tony Jones)


You’ve heard from my friend and rabbi, Joseph Edelheit, before. He’s in Brazil at the moment, and he’s been thinking about Paula Deen, Edward Snowden, and the contentious posts on this blog. He sent this piece and the above photo, unsolicited, and I post them here, unedited, for your consideration. This post may strike some as inflammatory, so I hope that you will keep your comments civil.

When we find out that someone in popular culture uses language, no matter whether in private or public, that is “outrageous” the response is immediate! Paula Deen’s popularity cannot save her from the swift judgment of corporate America. Her tears and explanations, even her plea taken from Christian scripture: let anyone who has not used words that are hurtful and unacceptable throw a stone at me! The “N-word” has become a recognized act of self-destruction even as the Supreme Court hands down legal discourse that seems to soften decades of legislation that set the standards of racial redress.

Paula Deen is gone, but the Supreme Court might have opened the door for Voter IDs? It might be worth taking a few weeks to consider whether our immediate repugnance of this oh-so Southern gal whose food and cooking masks her denial of diabetes and the much more dangerous institutional racism that was just nullified by the Supreme Court. Paula Deen used the “N-word” — shame on her; meanwhile, the majority of the Supreme Court gave permission to known racist state legislators to create new mechanisms to deny anyone the right to vote. The problem is we cannot cancel the Supreme Court’s television programs or their corporate sponsorships, so maybe Paula Deen is our collective sacrifice of shame?

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