The recent public dustup involving Paula Deen has me more than a little worried. Initially I paid little attention to reports about the obnoxious comments she made causing her such a firestorm of trouble.
I figured it to be just another instance of celebrity mouth running without a brain involved. Does anybody remember Mel Gibson?
So I put it out of my mind and didn’t think much more about it. I chalked the episode up to a gastro-larynx disease that’s sweeping the nation — verbal diarrhea.
She caught it and got fired but I’m all for consequences of bad behavior. It serves her right.
Oops, imagine how surprised I was to learn her transgression occurred three decades ago! That stopped me in my tracks.
I’ve done and said a bunch of bad things in my life but always figured time outran them. The thought they could follow me through 30 years of advancing years was truly sobering.
Thankfully, I’m not a celebrity so my future doesn’t hinge upon the general public’s perceptions of me. However, I still couldn’t dodge the Charles Dickens shock of being visited by "ghosts of mistakes long past," of which I have many.
I suppose she’s paying the just price, however long delayed. Justice must not have a required speed and distance limit, which is good to know.
For Paula it’s too bad, so sad. What bothers me more is the huge number of others impacted by this.
Think of rap music artists who have captured the American dream plying their craft. These are performers who have blazed new entrepreneurial trails with huge successes.
Now I guess they’ll also have contracts canceled and suffer expulsion from selling their wares in stores and on Amazon.
It doesn’t seem to me they deserve that. After all, racial pejoratives are often part of their products, sometimes most of their products.
Surely comedians who inject such sensitive slurs into their art won’t suffer the destruction of their careers. Many have worked very hard to achieve their successes and shouldn’t be denied the rewards of their efforts, but given the recent revelation about Deen and its implications, the outlook is bleak.
I guess retailers will quit selling their CDs and venues will quit booking their acts. In a moral sense, perhaps it’s justified, but in human terms seems harsh. I’m sure everybody was as blindsided by this Paula thing as I.
Resurrecting such ancient stuff just doesn’t seem fair. As much as I dislike President Obama, I wouldn’t have wanted him pillaged by the public over cocaine use decades ago.
But even had it been an issue, I guess it wouldn’t have mattered. Nowadays illegal drug use takes a backseat on the moral equivalency scale to certain words spoken.
So I wave goodbye to Paula Deen and hope Snoop, LL, Ludacris, Wayne, Eddie, Chris, Jamie and Steve don’t get pounded too hard for past utterances. If the worst should happen, they should remember that when one door closes, another opens.
I’ve heard Tony Bennett is looking for backup singers.
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.