Paula Deen isn’t really on trial for using the N-word. She’s on trial for the crime of being Paula Deen, a woman who cooks with lard (yum!), shows up for the Today Show wreathed in tears and garbed in an inappropriately girlish hue of pink, and says unfortunate things such as “I is who I is.”
Think of Paula as the anti-Julia Child. Unlike Julia Child, who also loved butter and cream but had the discipline to take only one bite, thus preserving her well-bred appearance, Paula goes whole hawg for fattening (but tasty) pimento cheese rather than pâté. She must be punished! Matt Lauer’s painful grilling of the alarmingly unstable Deen — who conquered agoraphobia, something rarely achieved, to become a multimillionaire, celebrity cook — was cruel but not unusual. It’s what the school-yard bullies of the current elite always do whenever they have an opportunity to go after those they regard as social inferiors.
That said, I do want to rise to defend my fellow southerners from the rank condescension of the likes of the usually estimable John McWhorter. Mr. McWhorter famously made excuses for Mrs. Deen on the grounds that she is a southerner of a certain vintage. To paraphrase: Them backward southerners all talked that way once. I’m no spring chicken, but I want to state for the record that I did not grow up believing the N-word was acceptable. The N-word has always been in execrable taste. Paula, as is her wont, has done something that is in terrible taste. If they couldn’t get her on those delicious globs of butter, any weapon will do. PR advice to Paula: Ever think of adding some of those pathetic green salads McDonald’s put on the menu after they were attacked by the food police?