I’ve never watched Paul Deen’s TV show. Never read any of her books. Her recipes sound like they have too much fat and too many calories for my diet. But add my name to the list of people who think she’s getting a raw deal.

All the uproar started after details leaked out about her depositions in a lawsuit that former employees have filed against her restaurant. If she’s really been mistreating employees and discriminating against them in her business, then the courts will handle that.

What all the public debate is about is her use of a racial slur about 30 years ago.

I don’t think people should use derogatory language toward anybody. But to condemn someone for something they said three decades ago is ridiculous. Also, she admitted using the word and apologized for it. That should be enough for anybody.

Former President Jimmy Carter said it well when he said Deen should let the dust settle and apologize.

"She was maybe excessively honest in saying that she had in the past, 30 years ago, used this terrible word," Carter said on CNN last Friday. "I think she has been punished, perhaps overly severely, for her honesty in admitting it and for the use of the word in the distant past. She's apologized profusely."

What bothers me most about the situation is all her sponsors who are running out on her, like rats leaving a sinking ship. Even her publisher is dropping her even though the controversy has sent her book to the top of the charts. It seems sponsors are always willing to use celebrities’ names for their benefit until the least controversy arise. Then they drop them like a hot rock.

Even the Rev. Jesse Jackson has come to Deen’s defense, advising her how to put her troubles behind her.

Jackson said he’s more troubled by racial disparities in jobs, lending, health care, business opportunities and the criminal justice system. Seems like those issues are worth more concern than what some cooking celebrity said 30 years ago.

Also, if people are so concerned over the use of racial slurs, they should focus their attention on rap music, whose lyrics are loaded with racial slurs and sexist language. And those aren’t songs of 30 years ago. They’re on the radio today.

If Deen is to be faulted for anything, it should be for all the fattening recipes she’s been promoting all these years. However, I understand her latest book, the one that’s number one on Amazon’s top sellers but canceled by the publisher, is about “lightening up” her food.

Maybe that’s what all the Deen critics ought to be doing. Lightening up on her.


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