Saturday, July 06, 2013

Deep Fried Deen

Calhoun's Cannons for July 6, 2013

Well, mah goodness!  Wasn't that fun!  Trashing Paula Deen, destroying a good chunk of her career, the media awash with Moral Outrage! What an outpouring of phony Shock & Dismay.  It was all Dueling Moral Rectitudes among the hypocrites.  With her sponsors yanking up the hems of their skirts lest they be smudged by Deen's standard-issue Southern Racism Lite. Oh, wait.  I need to make that "standard-issue, all-American racism lite."  And therein lies the utter phoniness at the heart of this sad but ridiculous scandal du jour.

For years people of good will have called for a "dialogue" on race.  We were urged to honestly confront the dark stain at America's heart, to deal unblinkingly with our sinful, evil history, to understand our hard-wired human-monkey brains better in order to find a way to overcome our own dark hearts.  Unfortunately, most Americans are profoundly allergic to all of that.  Instead, our usual default mode when facing a genuinely difficult problem involving our own bad behavior is to 1) shoot the messenger, 2) change the subject, 3) engage in scapegoating.  Then when the poor goat is driven out of town with all our sins on its fluffy head, declare the "problem" solved so it's "time to move forward."

Enter Paula Deen, prime goat.  She was perfect!  Her style of cooking (ooey-gooey butter, sugar, fat-larded comfort food) was rapidly being acknowledged as an artery-clogging medical menace and so was going out of fashion.  Which meant her sales and profitability was slipping a bit so her sponsors could afford to play the moral rectitude card without taking too big a financial hit.  She had also tarnished her own credibility by keeping secret her own diabetes (no doubt caused by eating her own food) while signing a secret deal to be a shill peddling diabetes drugs.  When that deal became public, the goat was primed and ready.

Enter a "disgruntled" ex-employee, a brother named "Bubba," and a lawsuit.  Bring on the clown suit and the barrel of tar and feathers. The circus was about to begin.

Which brings us back to what passed for a national "dialogue about race" that ensued when it was discovered during the deposition that Paula Deen confessed that she had used the N-Word in the past when referring to a black man who had robbed the bank she was working in and held a gun to her head.  There soon followed TV clips and interviews of Deen being a silly southern lady-of-a-certain-age, with cultural baggage and a tin ear, who was clueless about many of her cringe-worthy racial comments.  "I is what I is," she declared.

And so the pounding commenced with few voices raised with a lick of common sense.  Like, does anyone really think there's a person living in the U.S. who has NEVER used the N-word?  Ever? Not even while reading "Huckleberry Finn" in school?  Or, if you're of a certain age, have sung the counting-song, "Eeeny-meeny miney-mo / Catch a . . . . . by the toe?" Or referred to Brazil nuts as "N-toes." (Which my sister and I innocently did until our Mom overheard us and we got a thorough schooling on the matter.)  We live in a society that has been and still is awash with the N-word.  It's in the culture, in the streets, in our jokes, in our history, passed down from parent to child, passed around from school child to school child.  It's in the very air we breathe, always lurking.  If you're a child of the south, it's a word imbedded in the culture.  It's a word that has had a variety of meanings and inflections, a word that was either acceptable or unacceptable, depending on the company you kept, a word of duel purpose from a pure descriptive in certain circles, to a word of utterly despicable intent. A word that, once heard, cannot be unheard.  A secret weapon of a word that, while sheathed, is always there, lurking in even the sweetest of souls, along with all the other taboo words proscribed by a civil society.  

It's also a word that's now going totally out of fashion, beyond the pale, unless you're a rap star, or a comedian, though even in that milieu and among blacks themselves, is cause for a growing discussion and growing disapproval.  But since it remains a word of near-universal taboo, its also a word that's become the perfect tool for scapegoating when we feel the need to externalize our own demons. 

And its clearly become The Word when we're in need of a media circus to distract us from the real dialogue we should be having.  Much easier to pile-on a clueless lady and when she's thoroughly trashed, smugly declare that the" problem" is now solved and it's time to move forward in our smiley-faced post-racial world.

Pass the butter cream cake, y'all.


Sandra Gore said...

We live in a world where people take pleasure tearing others apart. It takes a brave soul to be any kind of public figure.

Anonymous said...

jeez. you are such a wordsmith, kid.

i am in awe of your command of the english language.



Anne R. Allen said...

I agree with you completely. She's a good little Southern gal who never questioned the world she grew up in, but still managed to build an empire. And she's lost it all. She's such an easy target. Excellent essay.

Churadogs said...

And what an awful irony if it turns out the lawsuit against her that started this whole cascade turns out to be a phony deal and is dismissed, or she ends up winning it thereby proving it was all hooey. Then she would have lost it all over using a word most of us have uttered sometime in our lifetimes.

Beware of depositions.

I also have to wonder how much of this was overkill on account of she was a woman, and a southern woman with a brother named Bubba to boot? Makes such a tempting target for take down.

Meantime, Rush Limbaugh remains untouched. And his rascist rants weren't spoken 20 years ago. More like 20 minutes ago. And he's still on the air.

America sure needs to grow up.

Sandy said...

What a shallow world - a brother named Bubba who tries to destroy his sister. Plus NOONE has called
the RUSH boy on his nasty rascist comments. i am ashamed of them! I'm not perfect but not like them.

Anonymous said...

Are you also ashamed of the Rapper's who freely use that word? That word is spoke in more places than you would like to know.

It is after all, only a "word". Mankind has been insulting others as long as we have been killing those we look down on.

We may not approve of that particular word in polite white society, but it, and many other denigrating words are in use every day around this world.

Act shocked if that makes you feel better, but many of the ongoing hateful remarks and accusations made on this blog and about the our community leaders are just as vile. They will continue, and some of you will act so surprised to realize that your words continue to contribute to the division in this community.

I doubt seriously that Tacker and Calhoun will ever understand!

Anonymous said...

Calhoun only cares about Calhoun.

Billy Dunne said...

I applaud Gary Wechter actually using the word "nigger" instead of the childish "N word," in his similar New Times article this week (July 4-July 11). The word SHOULD feel uncomfortable. And Ugly. It should make you sweat. Dumbing it down to a nursery-rhyme-ish, politically correct, almost harmless "N-word" completely trivializes the impact of hateful words on society.

I miss George Carlin.

Churadogs said...

Billy, your comment raises an interesting issue. If the word "nigger" becomes common coin, (spelled out in full, or used as is without any social consequences) would it continue to make one sweat? Or become just like any word and lose it's power to shock and sweat? In certain areas of this country, you'll hear the word used with no attempt at political correctness and with neither the speaker nor listener flinching -- it's just another word in that community/social set.

Right now, using the phrase, "The N-word" does convey the social idea that that word (and what it means) is simply not acceptable in polite society, that the speaker knows a line has been crossed (without really crossing it), in short, indicates the speaker has couth, at least.

Use of that word (or not using it) does show how hard it is to talk about race. But Gary Wechtler's NT piece was excellent.