A Defense of Paula Deen Followed By a Condemnation:
(Note: The Rude Pundit doesn't use the phrase "the N-word" because he's not a fucking child.)
Really, is there anyone who didn't think that TV chef and restauranteur Paula Deen didn't say "nigger" at some point in her life? Because the Rude Pundit's gotta tell ya, that revelation is about as surprising as James Gandolfini dying of a heart attack. The first time you look at or hear Deen, you know that a racial epithet or two, at least, passed through those lard-slicked lips. If you think that it was "shocking," you must live in a narrow little world of perfect liberals and you're more than likely white.
Unlike most people commenting on Deen's situation, the Rude Pundit has actually read the entire tedious transcript of her deposition in the harassment lawsuit filed against her and others by Lisa Jackson, an ex-general manager of one of her restaurants, and he has a few problems with the destruction of Deen because of the allegations of racism against her because she said a bad word.
One aspect here that ought to bug the shit out of everyone is that Deen confessed to saying "nigger" and other racist stuff while under oath. She was asked about conversations between her and Jackson. It would have been the easiest possible thing for her to simply deny everything. After all, there were only two people there. Yeah, it would have been perjury, but that would have been impossible to prove. Instead, Deen admitted that she had said "nigger" and that she had loved a restaurant with sharply-dressed black waiters who acted "professionally," even going so far as pondering how she might be able to do such a thing in a place of her own, but afraid that "the media" would misinterpret it. Again, take points away from her on many levels, but she said she said it. She owned her words, for good and for ill. The lesson for others is to lie, if you think you can get away with it.
This is the point where a white guy who was raised in the South tells you how it was. He doesn't do this to forgive anyone's sins or excuse anything. He does this to say that, unless you did grow up in the South in the 1980s, there's things you don't get. And he does this with full knowledge that he is white and that he cannot know how it was to be black during that era (or any era). All he can say is that this is how we lived because he lived it. There. Is that enough caveats? Fine. Then gather 'round, children, and listen:
In eighth grade, the Rude Pundit's social studies teacher in Louisiana, Mrs. Broussard, was talking about immigrants to the United States in the late 19th century and the harsh, Sinclair's Jungle-like conditions under which they had to live. She told us that she would have rather been a slave in the south than an immigrant in the north because, as she put it, "All you had to do was what they told you and you'd have a roof over your head and food to eat. You only got beaten if you did something wrong." No one, black or white, in that classroom disputed it, and, in fact, both blacks and whites agreed with her when talking about it later (although the Rude Pundit, upon reflection, decided that he'd have probably preferred to have the freedom to walk around and, you know, maybe make some choices of his own).
The Rude Pundit's high school, like most high schools in the district, gave out awards at the end of the year. Among those awards - and he cannot emphasize enough that this was in the 1980s - was "Best All-Around Black" and "Best All-Around White." A male and a female were voted on by all students for each. The thinking was, and he swears this is true and propagated by the teachers and administrators, no black student would ever have the grades to be best and no white student would ever be as good an athlete as the black students. No one thought there was anything wrong with this back then because students wanted that award. In fact, this "separate but equal" approach was seen as enlightened because it guaranteed that black and white students would get awards. (Fun fact: in the Rude Pundit's class, the "Best All-Around Black Male" is now a big-time lawyer in Seattle. The "Best All-Around White Male" is a bartender in Breaux Bridge.)
And, back then, if as a white person, you didn't say the word "nigger" yourself, you sure as shit knew plenty of white people of all ages who did. (Although, you know, the Rude Pundit has racked his brain for a time when he might have used it back then, but he can't think of one that wasn't a rap or Richard Pryor quote. Weird. When he started writing this, he was sure he was gonna confess to something. Huh.)
One other thing here: the Rude Pundit went to plenty of nice restaurants with black waiters in tuxes. Since most of the patrons were white, they were often playing up a kind of Old South vibe to please the customers. It always made him feel uncomfortable because it not only was fake, but the white people mostly either didn't know or gladly went along with the act, enjoying a few minutes being Massa.
Paula Deen was asked if she had ever said "nigger" in her life. She said she had. She was honest about whites in the South during a certain time period in a way that few whites in the South are. It doesn't mean that she or anyone gets a pass. But she should not lose her livelihood for that (and, remember, she's got something of an empire - if she goes down, other employees go down with her).
However, the deposition also makes perfectly clear that Paula Deen is a desperately stupid but lucky person whose vile family members, especially her brother, Bubba, fer fuck's sake, are the kind of ignorant, hateful motherfuckers who deserve nothing less than being forced to live in a ditch for the rest of their depraved lives. It is her blind loyalty to these cretins, people who, by Deen's admission, regularly spout racist shit now (not in the past) and are, at best, drunk, redneck shitheels who think their proximity to Deen makes them special.
See, the Rude Pundit has also read Lisa Walker's complaint. And if even half of what is there is true, Bubba Hiers should have been fired and made to wash dishes in a backwoods catfish joint.
Deen's defense of Hiers and his racism at work is far, far worse than her admission of her own in private. Frankly, it's more offensive that she dismisses his use of "nigger" than that she herself said it 25 years ago.
One more story: The Rude Pundit worked in a warehouse, unloading trucks, for a couple of years. While African-Americans worked there, one of the crews had just a single black worker, Melvin. The warehouse's supervisor was a white relative of the Rude Pundit's who he had heard say racist things during more than a few family dinners. But when whites on the warehouse crew started to call Melvin all kinds of things, including "coon" and "porch monkey," Melvin, who trusted the supervisor, went to him to complain. Instead of dismissing it, the Rude Pundit's relative-supervisor came raging into the warehouse and tore into the whites, putting them on notice that if they said one more harassing thing to Melvin, he would fire all of them but Melvin. The harassment ended there.
Paula Deen apparently stood by while her brother and other employees degraded women and minorities at at least one of her restaurants. For that, she deserves what's happened to her.
(Note: The Rude Pundit's basic attitude is "Fuck Paula Deen." She made a ton of money getting people fat and getting them to believe that eating piles of fattening shit was somehow just fine. This is not to even get into the cultural colonialism of her appropriation of African-American cooking without an acknowledgement of it. Then, after it turned out she had diabetes because of the butter-rich slops she threw in a trough to gorge on, she hid her disease for a couple of years until she signed a deal with a pharmaceutical company. And her TV show was just awful. So, yeah, fuck her.)