Saturday, June 22, 2013

Why I am glad Food Network dropped Paula Deen

[Ed. Note: I wrote about the issue from a Christian perspective, here]

I live in Georgia, but I'm from New England. Famous cooking personality and foodie titan Paula Deen has many supporters down here.

Her shows on Food Network are Paula Deen's Best Dishes, Paula's Party, and Paula's Home Cooking. Not to mention the shows her sons have also. She has restaurants, a line of cooking wares. She has cookbooks, and makes guest appearances on many other Cooking Channel and Food Network shows. She's everywhere.

I never liked her.

But to each his own, I said, and went on with my life.

However, a while ago it came out that she had had Type II diabetes for three years but kept it hidden, all the while cooking fatty and sugary foods on her shows. That's hypocrisy of the highest order, and lying. Then it came out that not only she had diabetes but came clean on the same day she had a lucrative contract with a drug company she was promoting to help with diabetes. That's crass greed.

NY Times put it this way:
"January 2012 when she announced she had Type 2 diabetes on the same day she endorsed the diabetes drug Victoza and a lucrative collaboration with Novo Nordisk, the drug’s manufacturer. Because she had built her career on a no-holds-barred approach to sugar and fat (creating recipes like a cheeseburger patty sandwiched between two doughnuts and a Better than Sex cake made with cake mix, pudding mix, and heavy cream), she was roundly criticized for encouraging an unhealthy diet for others, hiding her illness and then trying to profit from it. "


Then it seems she and her brother, who own a restaurant together, were being sued for sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and a creating fearful workplace in which the plaintiff (Manager Lisa Jackson) was subjected to profanity and gender discrimination among other things, on a daily basis for five years.

I read the GA lawsuit. I can't even repeat some of the things that Jackson alleges Paula Deen and her brother said, they are so crass, gross, and profane. The plaintiff has her side, and Deen of course has her side, but in this incident I paste below from the plaintiff's lawsuit, let it be known that in Deen's deposition she did not deny saying that she was planning a southern style plantation wedding- it's just that Deen discounted the slaves/racial aspect of it. Click for larger.

This is Deen's response to that allegation of the desire to have a "true southern plantation wedding."

"And I remember telling them about a restaurant that my husband and I had recently visited. And I'm wanting to think it was in Tennessee or North Carolina or somewhere, and it was so impressive. The whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie. I mean, it was really impressive. And I remember saying I would love to have servers like that, I said, but I would be afraid that somebody would misinterpret." (source)

Go ahead and read the plaintiff's allegations, you will be shocked. There are allegations of hiring only whites to work the front of the restaurant, to calling the black staff "monkeys,", to having a black-only bathroom in the restaurant for their workers, and these things are corroborated by witnesses in other depositions.

From the deposition:
Q. Miss Deen, earlier in your testimony you indicated that one of the things that you had tried to -- that you and your husband tried to teach your children was not to use the N word in a mean way, do you recall that testimony?
A. Yes.
Q. Okay. And could you give me an example of how you have demonstrated for them a nice way to use the N word?
In the deposition it was also stated, as well as in the lawsuit alleged by the plaintiff, that the plaintiff had hired a consultant to review the evidence and make a determination as to whether there was sufficient cause to go forward with the lawsuit. There was.

Compare with Paula Deen's back-pedaling in her deposition. Deen was asked in her deposition if she had ever used the N-word. Her response was -

"Yes, of course."

Of course? Like we all do? Like it's a normal thing? No, of course NOT.

She tried to say that it was when she was held up at a bank and a black man held a gun to her head, but her response of "yes of course" belied an inner familiarity with using the word that many in the rest of America do not possess. That, plus the other times she admitted to using the word, (but could not recall exactly when), committing to an appearance on the Today Show, and then not showing up, did it for me. In reading what she is alleged to have said at the restaurant by the Manager Lisa Jackson, it all added up to a distasteful bundle I do not care to unwrap any longer.

One incident perhaps can be explained away. Or two. But using the n-word as a matter of course, planning a plantation wedding and seeking black-only waitstaff, her and her brother's repeated pattern of racial, ethnic, and gender harassment- in front of witnesses, cannot be explained away. There were just too many things to overlook.

Read the lawsuit and the deposition. It presents a dark and ugly picture. Apparently Food Network was fed up too, and they dropped Deen from the network. And I'm glad.

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