Tonawanda News

Columns

June 23, 2013

DUVALL: Pick on Paula Deen for deeds not words

Tonawanda News — I’m generally wary of the argument we’re an overly politically correct society, usually because it’s used by people who want to say offensive things with impunity.

Besides, one flip through cable television, top 40 radio or any Internet message board will give you all the evidence you need to show there’s far more said that shouldn’t be in America than the other way around.

Mind you I’m no fan of hers — more on that in a minute — but in the case of Paula Deen, I think she’s getting more punishment than she deserves.

Let’s set the parameters for this conversation from the start: Racism is, always was and always will be wrong in any conceivable context. No exceptions.

During a deposition for a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee she admitted to previously using a racial epithet but said it was a long time ago and it was meant in jest. She apologized in several admittedly bizarre YouTube videos but she seemed sincere in admitting she’d offended people and was genuinely sorry for it.

People do wrong things all the time. We learn they’re wrong by how others react when we do them. There’s rarely a formal apology for the action. Most times it’s filed away under the mental checklist of things we shouldn’t say again. At some point most of us turn over in our heads why something seemed OK to us but was received poorly. And then we grow from the experience.

I can’t cast a judgment about whether she actually believes the comments she made — whatever they were — accurately reflect black people or if she’s just got a faulty brain-to-mouth filter.

I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt for one reason: The fact she now knows what she said was wrong (and it was) tells me regardless of the fact she once didn’t realize what using the n-word really means, she does now and is sorry for having done it.

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