Posted by: JDM..... | June 28, 2013

“PC” PARANOIA

……and the cost of being fingered by the Language Taliban

There is something disturbing going on, and it’s not the fact that Food Channel television star Paula Deen said a bad word. What I find disturbing, and what I think should at least raise eyebrows in general, is the way in which the woman has been abandoned by all of those who have benefitted financially from her success and vigorously shredded in an act of national drama reminiscent of Medieval cruelties carried out in the name of righteousness and, by the way, for the entertainment of those so desperate to witness someone having a worse day than they themselves were having.

WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID?

One need only turn on the evening news, log onto the internet, or glance at a hard copy newspaper to discover the latest tidbit about the plight of the current bearer of the Scepter of Having Stepped in It. This trophy comes with a wire brush on one end and a bas relief sculpture of a medieval disembowelment on the other. As I’m sure most are aware, Paula Deen is the former cooking show guru now starring in a media feeding frenzy over something she said she said once.

What’s worse, the utterance apparently is so taboo that her executioners won’t/can’t even bring themselves to say what she said, instead resorting to linguistic “you-know” references that remind one of toddlers being taught cutesy names for their genitals and excretory processes. The notorious “N-Word” thus found its seat in the Lexicon, over in the corner with “Pee-Pee” “Thingie”, and several other modern paint peelers.

The fallout has been unbelievably disproportionate and still hasn’t burned itself out. One can only speculate that the sense of impotence felt in the wake of all the nation has been dealt lately put Paula Deen in the wrong place at the wrong time, generally making her an unwitting but convenient scapegoat and “whipping boy” upon which society could release some venom. And, venom it is.

The Food Network was the first entity to hide behind their hands, declining to renew her show and playing the “Paula who?” bit. Several major corporations quickly joined the fast-paced rodent race down the hawsers, including Wal-mart, Caesars Entertainment, Home Depot, Target, and Smithfield Foods, with Sears, drug maker Novo Nordisk, and JC Penny hot on their heels. Corporate cowards, every one. QVC stands alone for approaching the sensitive controversy with tact and diplomacy, leaving the door open for possible future dealings with Paula Deen.

Nobody wants to be the last one left on board to be even remotely associated with someone who might have actually said “IT”…….even if it was thirty years ago.

“IT”, my fellow Americans, is, of course, the word:

“nigger”

……………………..considered to be one of the most offensive words in the English language at present. It is undeniably an unpleasant verbalization, as well as an ugly expression in its written form.

……………………..It is also a term which was liberally sprinkled throughout the works of nineteenth century humorist Mark Twain, author of the classic tales of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and other characters of the Mississippi River culture, and he is considered an icon. Most of us, those over thirty or so anyway, studied his works in school. A lot has transpired since the days of Mark Twain, and even since my school years in the fifties and sixties.

There have been many changes for the better, but such changes rarely are purchased at no cost. Improvements in how people treat one another are admirable goals, but when such advances in civility are achieved by the force of law instead of through the slower process of learning and an evolution of the culture’s core values and mores, a serious tax is levied that societies are not always able to weather.

Just as there were sacrifices made over the years to win the ground now enjoyed by so many, we may have to suffer some sacrifices in the process of achieving an end to the hostilities that were an unfortunate but predictable component of the Civil Rights Movement. Paula Deen may be one of them.

Words may be hurtful, insulting, and more, but those most objectionable are essentially little more than ignorant and crude. While history is certainly full of incidents when forces of law and authority have attempted to dictate vocabulary, matters of faith, and to otherwise forge entire populations into prescribed modes of existence, whether forces of theocracy, monarchy, or some sort of secular governing body, never have such campaigns had positive outcomes.

Today, if the term “nigger” so much as crosses a person’s mind, or heaven forbid, actually falls out of his mouth, agents of the Word Police explode into action, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton buy new suits, and politicians troll madly for sound bytes.

Odd. If Deen had confessed to dropping an F-bomb they’d have given her a raise instead of firing her. But then, F-bombs and the like, although a bit low-rent and crude, are not currently on the “Do Not Say” list of the American PC Taliban.

Our society has struggled through more than fifty years of frequently hurtful and occasionally fatal challenges to eliminate the isolation and persecution of Americans whose ancestors were brought here as slaves. We have reached that point in our maturation as a culture when it is time to recognize that the process can now be self-sustaining. Extraordinary support can no longer contribute in a positive manner to the society as a whole, and, in fact, can only solidify into a mirror image of the conditions it evolved to get rid of if it remains intact. Like scaffolding, it becomes clutter if not removed once the construction has advanced to a certain point.

I grew up in the North, but even so I witnessed such acts as a Molotov cocktail being thrown at the front door of a family of African heritage who had moved into a “white” neighborhood. I travelled in the Deep South before all of the “Whites Only” signs and other vestiges of another time had been removed. Isolated ugly incidents still occur from time to time, but the cultural environment of the fifties and sixties stayed in the fifties and sixties and such behaviors and attitudes haven’t dominated the evening news on a daily basis for a very long time.

Today, media featured circuses of Man’s inhumanity to Man are far more likely to be about “mirror image” incidents such as the one in which Paula Deen is embroiled.

Prosecuting a person for harming or threatening to harm another, interfering with the constitutional rights of another to obtain an education, own property, or to vote, and so forth will always be within both the letter and spirit of our laws. Applying any of those principles, including Freedom of Speech, according to arbitrary formulas based on differences in skin color, etcetera, must never be allowed to become an accepted feature of the American landscape again.

Paula Deen has been publically destroyed because of a word, vendors jockey for position, and the folks gathered in the Town Square are fulfilled.

Nothing could be more un-American.

 

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