EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


July 2, 2013

Column: Paula Deen's heapin' helping of woe

I’ve got this great idea. Let’s wipe every vestige of Paula Deen from the media and go about our business. After all, she has admitted using the deplorable N-word — years ago, she says — that unfortunately has been part of the national vernacular forever and still is too often used, particularly by those it demeans.

This jumped-up fry cook also has assaulted our sensitivity by her inarticulate, insincere mea culpa on national television and in other interviews, her Southern glibness failing her when she most needed it. She even had the temerity to cry while she watched her empire unceremoniously being dumped into the garbage disposal like overcooked grits. Now the publisher of her best-selling recipe books wants out.

I have watched “Paula’s Best Dishes” only a couple of times. The things Dean cooks and the ingredients they contain aren’t high on my diet. I remember my grandmother and even at times my mother using them. But since I became an adult, I have learned that while they may taste quite good, their contents can be as lethal as a knife stuck into the paunch they create.

Truthfully, I never have found Deen important enough to grant the honor of being universally denigrated. Before I am placed on the same griddle for suggesting that perhaps this whole furor has gone a bit over the top, let me tell you I don’t use the offending word, and it was never said in my household or that of my parents. In fact, my father once threatened to beat the stuffing out of a man who shouted it at an athlete in a crowded gymnasium.

That is not a claim of piety. Like most Americans of my generation, I have laughed at ethnic humor and have been guilty of telling stories that on reflection were hurtful. And it can’t be excused by the fact that African-American were among the biggest fans of “Amos ‘n’ Andy,” an enormously popular radio series of the early 1950s in which two white guys portrayed the daily lives of blacks.

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