White people across the nation spent the weekend resting their sore knees after a busy week of taking turns kicking Paula Deen in the ass to prove thoroughly, appropriately repulsed they are by the very idea of racism.
Before we go on, I have to admit that I hate Paula Deen in ways that defy description. Her fake-ass accent, her insufferable cokehead kids with their spinoff shows, her shameless hawking for labor/animal abuse superstars Smithfield, her "Ain't heart disease and obesity hilarious!" cooking style, and her paid shilling for a diabetes drug when her daily butter intake finally caught up with her…she's just a disgusting human being all around. That she apparently held and/or holds racist tendencies is neither surprising nor, in my case, a reason to think less of her. I really can't think less of her without getting to know her and adding some sort of personal component to my loathing.
That said, it's hard not to feel like we're going a bit overboard here. I would rather Food Network fire her because her show is an appalling trainwreck – like Divine from the John Waters films making a dessert buffet for a live in-studio meeting of the Daughters of the Confederacy. I would rather she lose endorsement contracts because the lifestyle she promotes is disgusting. I would rather her book contract be rescinded because her books are garbage aimed at morons. I would rather the public turn on her because she's a grating, cloying, parody of the worst things about America. All of these seem like worse offenses than an admission under oath that she used the word "nigger" thirty years ago.
Yes, I find that offensive too, and I have no sympathy for her. None. If it cost her a job, endorsements, and other opportunities, she has no one to blame but herself. But is it necessary for us to howl until she's burned at the stake for what happened? As Jimmy Carter said, "I think she has been punished, perhaps overly severely, for her honesty in admitting it and for the use of the word in the distant past." And as Jesse Jackson Sr. said, "She should be reclaimed rather than destroyed." Perhaps the problem is that Deen is so generally unlikeable that we're merely seizing on this as a reason to crap all over her. But it sure seems like some of us are using vehement, public condemnations of her actions as a means of allaying guilt – "I'm glad they got her and not me."
Screw Paula Deen. I'm glad to see her fail. Can any of us, though, say with a straight face that we've never thought or said things that are offensive? Racist? Homophobic? Sexist? We all like to say "Yes, but that was in the past, I've changed. If the rest of us can fall back on that, why not Deen? Maybe she used to talk like that but no longer does. Maybe she still does. Who knows. The point is that the Downfall of Paula Deen strikes me as a case of the right thing happening for the wrong reasons.