Paula Deen or Casting the First Stone
June 24, 2013
Last Friday, the Food Network announced that it would not renew Celebrity Chef Paula Deen’s contract that expires at the end of this month. This was in response to severe criticism from the public for racial slurs she admitted making in a discrimination lawsuit deposition. Ms. Deen was to appear with Matt Lauer on the Today Show to discuss the issue but cancelled it at the last minute. She instead posted three YouTube videos apologizing profusely for her slurs.
Let me first say that I have never watched a Food Network program and did not know of the existence of Ms. Paula Deen until very recently, when the story broke.
Many believe that Ms. Deen’s punishment exceeds the crime particularly after her voluntary admission and apparently sincere apologies.
Jack Marshall, of the Ethics Alarm strongly believes that she did not deserve to be fired. In his article, Food Network Thought Crime, he writes:
“What is being done to Deen is cultural bullying of the most despicable kind, by the elitist and intolerant race-grievance bullies who apparently hang out on the cable cooking shows.”
Some of Ms. Deen’s supporters are now threatening to boycott the Food Network. The last time I checked, she had 2,522,396 fans (likes) on her Facebook page.
Who can honestly claim never having told, or at the very least, laughed at, an ethnic joke? None of us should therefore be “casting the first stone.”
However, deplorable unacceptable speech still does happen. We should thrive to build a society where it happens less and less.
The problem with political correctness is that it is only deals with the expression of harmful thoughts or prejudices. It does not deal with the reasons why we have those thoughts in the first place.
King Solomon once wrote: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
Political correctness, (aka civility and decency) should not, ideally, be coerced by fear of retribution or of ostracism but rather come from an increased sensitivity to the plight and suffering of others.
The fundamental issue is of course is prejudice.
Former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan once wrote:
“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.”