Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

July 7, 2013

HOPKINS: Give Paula Deen a second chance

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Pity Paula Deen. She spoke the truth and she’s being financially lynched for doing so.

I certainly don’t condone her use of “the N-word,” but watching her get dropped by The Food Network, Smithfield Foods, Walmart, Target, QVC and a slew of others faster than you can say Jack Robinson is galling.

Deen was asked in a legal deposition if she had ever used the word. Deen is 66 years old, so “ever” covers quite a bit of territory. She was a teenager in the South during the racially charged 1960s, so I am not at all surprised that she used “that word.”

The deposition concerns a case in which Deen is being sued by a former employee who alleged sexual and racial harassment.

Here’s what stirred the controversy: “Yes, of course ... But that’s just not a word that we use as time has gone on things have changed since the 60’s in the south.”

That’s it. Wow.

Why is Deen being punished so severely, for something she claims happened decades ago, during a different era?

You cannot tell me that there isn’t a person on this planet who doesn’t regret saying or doing something in the past. Nor can you suggest that people don’t act differently in the privacy of their own homes. That’s not to say we’re all racist or homophobic, but I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t laugh at an unseemly joke or behave just a little out astray from what we see of that person in public.

I’m sure there are people who remember the 60s quite vividly and can’t let the past go. There are, I’m sure, whites out there who use “that word” in the privacy of their home or within a close circle of friends all the time and I’m sure there are blacks who freely continue to harbor ill feelings toward white people, similarly using “cracker,” “honky” and other epithets. That doesn’t make it right, for either side.

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