Paula Deen accused of racism, harassment

According to a lawsuit filed in Georgia, butterwitch Paula Deen used a racial slur beginning with "n" to describe the perfect wedding.

"I want a true southern plantation-style wedding. ... What I would like is a bunch of little n****** to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around. Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn't it? But we can't do that now, the media would be on me."

Posted by Radar Online, the suit (PDF) was filed by a former employee, Lisa T. Jackson, over claimed harassment and other rights violations.

Other allegations include boorish behavior from Deen's brother, Bubba Hiers, such as "the styrofoam cup poured almost full with whisky" alleged to be in his possession at 10 a.m. many days. Also, Deen is said to frequently use the word "massaging."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this blog post referred to Paula Deen as the Batterwitch. Ms. Deen is in fact the Butterwitch. Betty Crocker is the Batterwitch.


  1. Somehow this does not surprise me much. Except it does because Paula Dean would be well aware of just how in the public eye she is.

  2. Wow, is that the wedding she wants?

    Just Wow.

    That’s a good use of a lawsuit. I like it. 

    If Shirley Temple was in a period piece, okay I can see it, but plantations were mostly wiped out by the time she danced for us. There were sharecropping scams that victimized former slaves as well as indentured servitude scams and intimidation networks, but slavery as “plantation” references were already a thing of the past.

    Was Shirley Temple in a period piece set on a pre-war plantation?

    1. Wikipedia: The Littlest Rebel

      The film opens in the ballroom of the Cary plantation on Virgie’s sixth birthday. Her slave Uncle Billy dances for her party guests, but the celebration is brought abruptly to an end when a messenger arrives with news of the assault on Fort Sumter and a declaration of war. 

        1.  I highly recommend visiting Charleston and taking the boat ride out to Fort Sumter. Charleston’s a great city too. Skip all the Antebellum stuff and focus on the chaotic colonial era downtown. If you are used to the orderliness of Savannah or Alexandria, Charleston will blow your mind. It’s even crazier than Annapolis.

  3. Let’s keep in mind that one can allege anything one wants in a lawsuit. Until we see evidence that Paula actually said any of these things, it’s just gossip.

    1.  For some reason my brain wanted to interpret that as:

      “Let’s keep in mind that one can aleve anything one wants with butter.”

    2. Yeah but with Racism, usually we find out they DID do it. No one really incorrectly calls people a racist in court documents. I’m betting she’s another stupid, drol, ignorant racist- you know, the majority of the Southeast’s population. Stay classsy down there guys…

      1. “I’m betting she’s another stupid, drol, ignorant racist- you know, the majority of the Southeast’s population.”

        Yeah… but that wasn’t a slur right?

        1. No, it’s not a slur when it’s against someone he doesn’t like. 
          Hypocrisy – how does it work?

      2.  There’s nothing magic about the N-word that would keep someone from using it in a false accusation.

      3.  So 60% of the people in Georgia are the same ethnicity as Ms Paula, and by your reckoning at least half of them are stupid and ignorant.  What other ethnic demographic are you including from the overall sample to populate a majority of people that are stupid and ignorant?

    1. Some of us have tried really hard to challenge the stereotype of Southerners as slack-jawed, inbred, creationist, Confederate-flag waving, cross-burning yokels. Some of us even try to make the term “Southern hospitality” meaningful by treating everyone with friendliness and respect.

      And then Paula Deen comes along and sets us back by about fifty years.

      It’s no surprise to me that the only positive presentation of a Southerner I can think of on television in recent years was this guy, and even he was from Florida:

      1. Some of us have tried really hard to challenge the stereotype of Southerners as slack-jawed, inbred, creationist, Confederate-flag waving, cross-burning yokels.

        Thank you, Christopher. It’s hard for an open minded culture to get a foothold in my state (Alabama) because the state’s reputation is so terrible that the people who could change it are demoralized before they even begin. They either keep their views close to their chest or leave the state, and the result is an atmosphere that appears to be 100% backwards even though I know for a fact it isn’t. Plastering every Southerner with a stereotype is lazy, not to mention ironic, and it’s helping the people – politicians in particular – who benefit from the illusion that the South is solidly racist, right-wing, and fundamentalist, and that it’s useless to challenge that mentality.

        All these problems exist here, but people, please qualify your statements!

    1. I agree. It sounds like a kitchen implement to me. “Combine all the ingredients and beat them with your butterwitch for ten minutes.”

  4. I’d take the angle that she’s correct about what constitutes “a true southern plantation-style wedding”, but only racists would enjoy a true southern plantation-style wedding.

  5. I guess this takes away some of the regret I had about never eating at her place when I was living in Savannah.

    1. I was about to say the same thing, except for the “living in Savannah” part.  I was down there for a choral concert, and everyone else was talking about going to her place, but I ended up going to a presumably less racist seafood place instead.

    1.  Sounds like a very thinly veiled way of saying, “I’m not racist, I’m just telling it how it is.”

  6. Sounds like another case of a greedy scumbag trying to bullshit some cash out of their ex-boss. I’m not a Paula Deen fan, but I don’t believe a word of those accusations against her.

    1. … really?

      Are you from the south? Because I hear things like that all the time. Seriously. And it kind of has to get that bad or worse before there’s enough a reason to even bring forth a suit. Then people say “oh that’s so extreme… no one really says those things” and once again reality is stranger than people imagine it to be.

      Now if you mean that you can not imagine that *she* woulds say such things, I have to admit all I know about the woman is that she has a grating low class accent and she eats A LOT of butter.

        1. Yeah, like we’re supposed to believe a statement like that about butter… from  a lobster.  Get back in the pot, we’ve got our eye on you mister.  o_-

          1. When I was in kindergarten, we read Little Black Sambo. We also made butter. Coincidence?

      1. Yep. The thing a lot of people don’t realize is that racism is pretty out in the open in the South. The difference between Northern and Southern racists is that a racist Southerner will say to your face what racist Northerners say behind your back.

        1. The difference between Northern and Southern racists is that a racist Southerner will say to your face what racist Northerners say behind your back.

          Even so, it’s obviously still a bigger problem there than up North.

        2. I can only speak for the northeast but they must be hiding it pretty well because in my whole life I’ve never heard folks here talk like that.

          1. I’ve heard some things from at least one of my friends that would not be at all ok in public. Though he had recently spent a lot of time in the south and is from Texas so maybe that is not a good example of northern behavior but these people do exist.

          2. Not, of course, to say that there aren’t a lot of racists in the south. I really just don’t think it’s specifically a southern problem.

        3. Eh. Since moving to the north east from the someplace more southern, I have found many people here to be more open about their racism. I saw some kid yelling “N****r!” out my friends’ window at some poor kids playing in the snow outside. I had to yell at him and tell him that he was being an asshole. I’ve never had to do that before. And that’s certainly not the extent of my experiences with racism here.

      2. Yes, I am from the south. Atlanta, to be exact, and a big part of my family comes from Paula Deen’s home town of Albany, GA.

        I’m curious to know where you come from, blueelm, that you would hear hate speech all the time and think accents define one’s social position, because I don’t hear that sort of thing in Atlanta or Albany. That’s the kind of weird, paranoid xenophobia I’d expect from some little po-dunk hick who’s never gotten out and seen the world.

        Tell us more about yourself, blueelm. Do foreigners frighten and anger you? Do you chew tobacco and narrow your eyes at cars with out-of-state plates on them?

        To clarify my earlier comment for you, I meant that I can’t imagine Paula Deen wishing for a plantation-style wedding featuring dancing minstrel boys. If you need clarification on why I think that, start over from the top of this comment and see if you can connect the dots.

        1. I think you are missing something special. Think hard about it. Reeeeeeaaaaal hard. Are you thinking hard? Because you’re being so defensive! Maybe you’re on the brink of something!

          And yes, I do hear that and worse. Have you ever had your employer say something to you like “you’re pretty attractive for a black woman?”

          I wonder… maybe you don’t hear these things because you don’t want to. Or maybe you’re just lying about it because you don’t like it when people from the south get called out on something. How can I know your motivations? All I know is that you seem pretty intent on denial so why should I bother?

        2. “If you need clarification on why I think that, start over from the top of this comment and see if you can connect the dots.”

          Because you have a persecution complex you think that white people aren’t ever racist in the south and anyone who says otherwise, even if they are southerners too are engaging in… hmmm… maybe Nazi like blood libel against the poor misunderstood white  southerners who are the real victims here? Something like that?

        3. “Do you chew tobacco and narrow your eyes at cars with out-of-state plates on them?”

          Yes, actually. Well, in part. In fact, I once tailgaited another car and missed my exit trying to figure out what state their plate was from. 

          It was Missouri. 

          Oh and since you’re so curious, I’m from Texas. Now commence your gnashing of teeth. It’s ok though, my family only immigrated to Texas a hundred and fifty or so years ago. Prior to that they were from Virginia where the majority of my ancestors made their home for a couple more hundred years back, much at the expense of native people there. I don’t know, however many years it takes to get back to the 1600s. They ran a plantation, and owned lots and lots of slaves. In fact, we donated some of the records of these people once in the hopes that some people who are looking might be able to find an ancestor or two among them. So I’m pretty damned southern, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hear a lot of racist blather from other southern people. I do. 

          A lot of it comes from people who seem deeply insecure. I will tell you one thing though. In all my life living here, it has never been a disadvantage to me to be a southerner. Never. Not once. 

          Now what was your point again?

      3. she has a grating low class accent

        I had it pegged as genteel, and I associate this particular wedding fetish with old money. Most interracial couples I’ve seen here have been working class, and none of them have been from old money. If there’s going to be change here, it’s going to come from the lower classes who don’t have any reason to keep things as they are.

        1. Sounds grating to me, but maybe I’m scarred by Nascar culture. The plantation fantasy though is actually why I said that :P

          By the way, I’m working class but not low class.

          1. Most American accents sound grating to me, but that’s because I’m used to the magical lilting quality of the Australian accent.

        2.  You said it brother. It’s the lower classes where the races merge, but that’s also where the greatest racial conflict is. I think the established leaders want it that way.

          Houston isn’t the Old South city it was when my parents were growing up. Most of our elites are Yankees (GHW Bush is a great example) or immigrants, but I was raised by parents who were conscious of the old ways, even though they for the most part rejected them.

          1. It’s the lower classes where the races merge, but that’s also where the greatest racial conflict is. I think the established leaders want it that way.

            It reminds me of the story of the Belgian occupation of Rwanda, where the colonial government divided Rwandans into Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups and exercised their power through the Tutsi only, so the Hutus’ anger was directed at the Tutsi and not the occupiers, even though Hutu and Tutsi are almost indistinguishable.

            So yeah, I think they’re doing the same thing here. The cultures of non-rich Southern black and white people are very, very similar. If they didn’t distrust each other, the South would be solidly pro-labor at the very least.

    2. …I don’t believe a word of those accusations against her.

      Why not? Because you don’t believe any employer would really do or say things like that? Bad news, friend. The world is full of bona-fide assholes, and sometimes they run successful business enterprises.

      I’m certainly willing to give Deen the benefit of the doubt until all the facts come out but it’s completely nonsensical to assume the former employee must be lying.

      1.  Martha Stewart has 8 kitchens in her house.  8!  I can see a need for 5, tops (2 for kosher, 2 for halal, 1 for being blatantly and unapologetically non-kosher and non-halal) but 8? 

        If Stewart can be that crazy, a Southern lady with a Southern accent who made a career cooking Southern food can say something we once associated with the South.

        1. This is something you most definitely still hear in The South among certain folks, and many of them aren’t afraid to talk that way around people they don’t even know well. Can’t count how many times people said f-ed up stuff like that thinking that as long as no blacks were around that they were in like minded company.

          1. Yeah, they keep doing it when they move to Southern California. Pro-tip: When someone quietly uses the n-word in public, throw your head back and bellow, “Did you just say n****r?!?” They’ll never speak to you again, but no loss there.

        2. I think I lost you somewhere. Are you saying that Paula Deen has a right to be racist because Martha Stewart is crazy, or are you saying it’s easy to believe that someone like Deen might be racist if someone like Stewart is crazy?

          1.  Nope, I’m just saying that “no one would do that” is not a valid reason to doubt it actually happened.

        3. So if Paula Deen is innocent, we’ll have to take some of Martha Stewart’s kitchens away?

        4. Do you have a hobby? Do you have television shows, magazines,and books based on that hobby? If you had gobs and gobs of money, and weren’t troubled by guilt, wouldn’t you devote rooms to various aspects of your hobby?

          1. Well, yes, but not redundantly.  I like me some video games.  If I were rich I might have a multi-room video game library, or a separate room for each console, but I wouldn’t have, like, 8 X360 rooms. 

    3.  You’ve never lived in Savannah, GA, I take it?  Before moving there in the ’90s, I thought such talk and attitudes were relics from bad old movies making fun of a bygone era… after moving out there and seeing it, hearing it, non freaking stop, from such a huge number of people, and seeing the weird *fear* in the atmosphere among most non-caucasians I knew… I got out of town in 2000 and haven’t looked back.

      My father worked at a hospital.  In the breakrooms, on the bulletin boards, people would post KKK meeting info.  In the 1990s.  In a place where medical professionals worked in the 1990s.  People spoke about the “War of Northern Aggression” pretty frequently.  I wondered why I kept hearing the Dukes of Hazard car horn song playing all the time until I learned more.

      So, doubting this sort of thing among people in general, sure, I’m with you… but go live in Savannah for a while, being a white person among other white people, and wait for them to open up and start talking to you…  I came from Los Angeles, and I heard the n-word uttered less (among rap singing friends, school children, etc…) in all those years than I did in a month among white folks in Savannah.

      I believe there is a high percentage likelihood that the accusations are accurate, and that they could apply to any white person born and raised in Savannah, and that right there… makes me seem a geographicist or something, but it’s based on personal observation; I didn’t have these opinions about Savannah before moving there.  And that’s why I always make *sure* not to indict anyone on correlations… race, religion, profession, geography.  Every individual can and will give you true, honest, specific-to-themselves reasons to like or dislike them.  :-)

      1. I don’t doubt your story but I think much of downtown Savannah has improved in recent years, SCAD has really reinvented and revitalized much of the old city center (or bought it out, depending on your point of view). I think the influx of young people from other parts of the country has helped. At least that was my perspective in grad school—I wouldn’t be surprised if it had as much to do with the people and places I associated with as anything else.

        The surrounding suburbs devolved into hard-core overt racism pretty rapidly though. My wife taught there and actually had more than one parent complain that their children had to study with non-white kids. This was in 2006.

  7.  Be interesting to see if this is true.

    My gut tells me yeah that sounds accurate, and like Possible Possum used to say…

    It’s Possible, it’s possible.

  8. I have never seen Paula Deen’s show, so I’m at a loss here about how the use of the word “massaging”  in a cooking show is boorish or racist. Unless of course, she’s offering to “massage someone’s sausage in butter” then I get it. Someone help me out here.

    1. I’m at a loss here about how the use of the word “massaging”  in a cooking show is boorish or racist.

      Hint: the sexual harassment and racism took place off-air at her place of business, not on her cooking show.

  9. It’s just not a wedding without a bunch of dancin’ …  OK, I can’t say it.  Not even to be (refreshingly) sarcastic.

  10. So is rob or BB anti butter or antiwican

    mark seemed pretty pro butter in the last gweek podcast….

  11. In the “other allegations”… you can be sued now for having a Styrofoam cup full of whiskey at 10am?
    Wow, I guess I’d better watch it.
    Is vodka OK?

    1. Keeping whiskey in styrofoam should be a criminal offense rather than a civil one.

    2. When I was younger, the feel of the cheap shit going down (we drank Old Crow with Crystal Pepsi* and called it Old Dead Dog in tha Road, even made our own labels) would have caused me to think that whiskey would melt a cheap styrofoam cup.

      *Crystal fuckin Pepsi, best mixer ever.

  12. As much I dislike Deen (and the Crocker brand), using language like “witch” to describe women is disrespectful and uncool. You’re trying to be funny, but that term has a long history of being used to scorn and mock old, ugly, feminist, and nonconformist women.  

    If she is racist, dishonest, and a corporate shill that’s fair to criticize, but there’s no need for sexist labels. 

    1. I don’t subscribe to the view that gendered insults are necessarily problematic, though they often are. In the context of modern culinary practice, thankfully, witchcraft is completely gender-neutral. For example, Jamie Oliver is the current polyunsaturated fatwitch.

          1. @boingboing-fbcce68c3853e923f0983996eee5573e:disqus : (That was your cue to get mad at me for using a gendered insult, though I admit it was a pretty juvenile provocation.)

          2. @boingboing-d14fe370bdf1664c34b258d65f8d3507:disqus Dick is not the same thing as bitch or another female-oriented insult.  Just like “cracker” is not the same as the n-word, which is why I didn’t grab on to it. I don’t care if you call a white man a dick, and I don’t think Roz cares either. :)

          3. @boingboing-fbcce68c3853e923f0983996eee5573e:disqus :

            Dick is not the same thing as bitch or another female-oriented insult.

            So you’re saying gendered insults are not necessarily problematic? (Zing!)

        1. I take exception to the idea that white males aren’t sensitive to oppression or have not been in the position of being oppressed. There is something very obnoxious and willfully ignorant about saying: “You! You’re a white man! Everything you say about feminist topics is suspect.”
          I was born to a poor, single mom and was afforded the the same respect as her as a child. I was not allowed to attend any particular school for more than one year in a row by the school district because I was part of a daycare program for single moms. we had to move from our apartment when we came home to find “n****r-lover” painted across the door after my mom had several college student friends over for studying.

          I was born left-handed and was often reassured, even by well-meaning relatives, that “there’s nothing wrong with being a lefty”. I was shamed by my first grade teacher for writing with my left hand and told I must “never do that–ever”. This same teacher made those of us in the daycare program always stay at the back of the lunch line or any line. 

          I am skinny and have always been uncoordinated and not good at sports. So I was pretty much ostracized by everyone: Even the girls didn’t want me for volleyball when the PE teacher said I shouldn’t be playing flag football.

          I am a gay man.

          My dad stopped inviting me over for visits when he figured out his boy was a “sissy”. I was bullied unmercifully through school.

          I am fairly intelligent and that arouses suspicion in a large portion of the population so I’ve learned when to not speak just to make things easier. Easier just to guffaw along at super Bowl commercials at in-laws house than start pointing out what I know about consumerism and having them REALLY hate the know it all fag.

          And so what about all this makes me automatically inclined to be a patriarchal oppressor for chuckling along with ‘butterwitch”?

          Oh, yes: I am a white male. Privileged. Nothing else matters. I am a white man, not an individual with a story.

          Fuck you.

          Please, stop talking about things of which you do not know. I’m not silencing you as a woman. I am suggesting that you yourself should not silence people like Rob, using this idea that he is a man so of course he is your oppressor.  I don’t know Rob but I assume someone that makes such amazing contributions to a very intelligent blog such as this is not an asshole trying to stomp all over your life.

          1. Privilege isn’t a monolith.  You can have privilege in one area of your life but not in others.

      1. Interesting. I assume you find n*gger and f*ggot problematic, why not those used as slurs used against all women then as a means to put a woman who is out of line in her proper place? What is the difference?

        I’m not sure about witch, really. But I do find it curious that you find some group shaming slurs probelmatic but not others. Watching the news and the tide of current events I don’t think you can make much of an argument that this is a post-sexist world after all.

        1. “Watching the news and the tide of current events I don’t think you can make much of an argument that this is a post-sexist world after all. ‘

          Exactly, spot-on good sir.

        2. If you think calling Paula Deen a butterwitch is no different to calling black people n*ggers, you might want to think about it some more.

          It’s easy to prove that gendered insults aren’t necessarily problematic: if a white man calls me a dick, it’s a gendered insult that isn’t problematic. That’s because I have normative privileges as a white male. In most social contexts, that gendered insult doesn’t objectify me, oppress me, or focus upon me all the historical baggage that women suffer when targeted by gendered insults such as “c*nt” and “bitch”.

          Likewise, calling Paula Deen a butterwitch doesn’t sexually objectify her or put her in a ‘proper place’ indicated by patterns of patriarchal oppression. It’s an absurd insult evoking the negative connotations of a mystifyingly powerful celebrity chef who tells people to eat shit. 

          This false equivalence — that all gendered insults are equally problematic, regardless of context, irony, or whether they exploit a traditional imbalance of power or exclusionary narrative  — what can it do but empower sexists and their crocodile tears over “mens’ rights” or “we’re objectified too”?

          1. If you read my comment you should see that I specifically said “I don’t know about witch” meaning I don’t specifically care to make the argument with regard to witch, but rather the statement regarding gendered insults in general.

            “It’s easy to prove that gendered insults aren’t necessarily problematic: if a white man calls me a dick, it’s a gendered insult that isn’t problematic. That’s because I have normative privileges as a white male. In most social contexts, that gendered insult doesn’t objectify me, oppress me, or focus upon me all the historical baggage that women suffer when targeted by gendered insults such as “c*nt” and “bitch”.”

            And now I get where you were coming from with that statement. You see, I didn’t know how to take what you said either. Because while there is the issue of false equivalence there is also the issue of “it’s not really an insult because we don’t always use it that way.” So I asked. Thanks for responding, by the way (no snark). I apologize if I was uncharitable in my reading, but I’m used to being blindsided by these things by people I respected rather frequently.

      1. Why?  You don’t know her, and you don’t know if these claims are even true. Why do you want to call someone you don’t even know terrible names?  You sound like such a great person! /s

        1. I really don’t need to know someone to know I don’t like them when they talk about  “a bunch of little n******’s ” dancing at their wedding.  You totally have the right to stick up for racists. I wouldn’t, but if you want to be one it’s your call.
          In the end, maybe we will find out that this is all a crazy conspiracy to bring down her heart attack-creating cooking show. I tend to doubt it. I’ll change my opinion later, maybe.

          1. Not embracing sexism != sticking up for racists. Guess what, sexism is just one thing on top of racism for some people.

    2. Butterpusher? Butternut? Would-you-like-some-food-with-your-butter-question-inducer? ButterbatshitcrazyTVpersonality?

  13.  I would be willing to bet there will be plenty of ex employees showing up for a piece of the Deen pie. – a classic good ole boys business enterprise. the Butterwitch’s brother is a drunk that feels he is GOD and doesn’t have to abide by basic civil rights.  The poor people who work in these establishments scared to lose their only source of income if they report the problems …..

    Welcome to America – home of the free corporate enterprise, land of the desperate job seeking population!

  14. um, did I miss something here?  since when is racism illegal?  sure, it makes you look like an idiot, but it’s not braking any laws.  Freedom of speech is a two-edged sword.

    1.  Repeated behavior described is harassment and creating a hostile work environment. 

      Has nothing to do with “Freedom of speech”.

    2. Harassment is “free speech” now?  That’s news to me!

      Seriously, though, you may want to do some research on harassment, including sexual harassment and racism in the workplace. Neither are legal. Additionally, you may want to do some research on “Freedom of speech” before attempting to speak about it, as it is clear you don’t have a very good understanding of what it is.

        1. Well, it’s not legal, though being illegal doesn’t stop people, nor mean they automatically get punished for their bad deeds.

      1. For the record, it’s considered harassment in the workplace NOT when you say or do something someone finds inappropriate. It’s harassment when you are notified about the inappropriateness of your remark or action and do it again.

        1. Um, not so much.  Each case is different, but if you walked up to a woman and slapped her ass, that would be sexual harassment, whether you were asked not to do it or not.  The same goes for certain threatening language.

          1. Both your examples are more serious. In the area of assault.

            “Harassment means to repeatedly annoy or attack a person or group in such a way as to cause anxiety or fear for safety”

  15. Someone should send Deen a big ol’ plate of sometimes food to make her feel better.

    I vote this:

  16. I think it’s interesting how starkly divided these racial flaps are. Most white people don’t think it’s a big deal or won’t address the racism itself, or assume it is made up. People of color, however, usually feel otherwise. 

    1. It’s pretty typical. People who don’t have to deal with a problem tend to assume it must not happen that much a) because they don’t have to deal with it and b) because they assume usually that either they don’t do it so no one like them does or if they do it’s just a few bad apples etc. 

      It’s amazing how consistent people are in this way really.

    2.  Well, what if Oprah described an ideal wedding with “a bunch of little crackers dancing around”?

      Either way, it’s some fat lady who spends too much time on TV putting her foot in her mouth. The racism angle is just one of several ways to be offended. Me I just try not to care.

      1. *sigh*

        When there is a history of white people actually being enslaved that is being romanticized by the still-powerful blacks and the use of cracker is still employed to remind whites not to think too highly of themselves, this will make some sense as an argument. Until that day, should it sadly come, it just sounds kind of clueless.

        1. Isn’t the use of cracker precisely to remind whites not to think too highly of themselves? The word is meant to evoke the white slave owner who cracks the whip. That was a shameful time for certain European Americans. When the pejorative cracker is used, it’s certainly intended to belittle an entire race without respect to the fact that no one alive today had anything to do with owning slaves save the circumstances of their birth.
          No one should be belittled due to their race, nationality, or other circumstances of birth. Save the pejoratives for those who act in a manner that deserves it. To do otherwise would be bigotry in its most fundamental sense.
          My ancestry is Irish yet my skin is ‘white’. My ancestors were sold as slaves by the British just as the Africans were. They were slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands. In contrast, African slaves were much more expensive than the Irish slaves which meant that African slaves, being more valuable, were provided better treatment than the Irish slaves who were quite often simply worked to death.
          Yet, people still want to defend their calling me a cracker because my skin is white and the African experience of slavery is taught to us in schools while my Irish brothers are left forgotten.
          Still powerful whites do romanticize and keep the Irish slave image alive. Just watch some BBC. Notice how in Upstairs Downstairs the owners are rich Brittons and the downstairs ‘help’ are Irish? Or how about Newsnight in November of 2010? Heck, it’s still acceptable for everyone to think of Irish as drunken brawlers. How bigoted a stereotype is that?
          Paula Deen is a fat old fool, to be sure. Just don’t use her bigotry as an excuse to defend your own.

      2. A) She didn’t.
        B) Your privilege allows you to decide what people should or should not care about. Right?

      3. Seriously?  Cracker is not in any way similar to the N-word.  Here, watch Louis CK do his thing, and maybe you’ll learn something:

        You don’t care about the word cracker? That would be because you’re white.

  17. If everyone who ever said the “n” word was liable to get sued, I’d imagine about 99.997% of the US population would be at risk. It’s a shame that such a disgusting word hasn’t been eradicated from our language.

  18. Given the problematic history of witch, it’s probably best to just leave it alone. We need a new, horrifyingly offensive name for this nasty bigot! Preferably relating only to her actions/diet; I’d suggest a reader poll!

    1. No. Sometimes it is fine to let go of un-funny words like “problematic” and enjoy the delight of “butterwitch”. Clever wordsmith and humor are their own justifications and make the world a nicer place for a moment. 

  19. Unfortunately; (for I don’t Paula Deen),  Radar is reporting that the accuser has financial issues with both the IRS and the redneck state of Georgia. Subsequently, he accuser will get shredding in court:   

    The woman who filed a lawsuit against Paula Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers has a checkered financial past riddled with tax liens, has exclusively learned.

    Lisa Jackson, 48, has owed a total of $63,948 in both Georgia state taxes and federal taxes with the IRS dating from 2001 to 2005.

  20. I must live in a cave. I’d never heard of this person, Paula Deen before. I checked the wiki on her. This part seemed to tell the whole story, in describing her restaurant: “The specialty is a buffet, which typically includes sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, deep-fried Twinkies, fried chicken, cheesy meatloaf, greens, beans, and creamed corn. Every meal is served with a garlic cheese biscuit and a hoecake.” followed a little further down the page by “In January 2012, she announced she has had type 2 diabetes for the last three years.” 

    It would be undignified to pursue all the snarky jokes available. I shall leave that to others and return to my cave.

  21. This is not a rhetorical question:  Why is it perfectly ok for IceT or any of the kids I see in the cafeteria to address each other in this way but not Paula?  I’m not defending her actions but I see a clear double standard here.  Is it racist or isn’t it?  

    1. Are… are you a teacher? Like, as in, responsible for the education of these children? If you are, do you think maybe you might have some responsibility for taking steps to understand the issue of race in America, beyond just asking strangers on the internet?

      1. I don’t teach sociology.  I teach physics and mathematics.   I teach adults not children(“kids” are anyone under about 25).  And I take a broader view than just the US.  There is no one alive… no one… whose ancestors weren’t slaves for someone.  And if you care to investigate you’ll find that there were plenty of black slave traders.  THE POINT is that  you can’t bellyache about equality but then say “except for this here”.  So the question stands.  How is it not racist to call someone a n***er no matter what your race?   And how would it not be a double standard to say 1 demographic is entitled and another not?

        1. So your proposition is that you should be judged no more harshly than they for calling someone a n****r?

          Look, there are perfectly good arguments that the usage of “n****r” by the black community is no less harmful than it is by others, but instead of going for one of those, you’ve opted for grousing about being expected to control your use of the word more than black people do. Your interest seems not to be in the damaging use of racist language, but instead on the notion that is unacceptable for YOU to use it.

          The reason why it’s unacceptable for you to use it, and merely distasteful or colorful for others, is because of power. Who has it and who doesn’t and how that power has been historically used. And not “throughout the long sweep of historical time,” but within living memory. As in, used on people who are still currently alive today.

          White people have power in this country and have a long history of using that power to belittle and demean the substantial black minority. One of the ways this power was demonstrated was through demeaning language. The most notable example of this language was through the use of the word “n****r.” If your observation is that it is considered more offensive for you to use the word than it is for black people, then congratulations, you have become aware of the impact of racist ideology on black people. If you feel this is somehow unjust? Tough. Suck it up and realize that you’ve still got it pretty damn okay in this country as a white man.

          P.S. Another use of language to belittle and demean black people was the widespread use of “boy” for black men of any age, so you should probably quit referring to your adult students who are black as “kids.”

    2. It may not be a rhetorical question but it’s one that has been answered many, many times over the last couple of decades and I don’t feel like going into detail about it here. Short answer: the difference between those situations has to do with the historical power dynamic between racial groups, context and intent.

      1. Wow… 2 non answer answers in a row.  So then it’s perfectly fine so long as your intent isn’t malicious.  Thanks for clearing that up.

        1. Obvious troll is obvious.  Brainspore answered your question. 

          First of all, you must feign utter cluelessness about the ins & outs of reclamation and behave as though you were under the impression that in these ‘post race/sex/sexuality/gender/etc times’ that we had all evolved into a new era where ‘words don’t mean anything’ and it’s totally okay for everyone to use offensive slurs and then… well: use them.

          When a Marginalized Person™ calls you out on it, become indignant. Express confusion. Demand an explanation.
          Say that you just don’t understand – if you people use those words to refer to each other, why can’t I?! You see, you’re implying that they’re being hypocritical. That if they are going to use abusive & oppressive language amongst each other, they simply have to accept that they’re employing a ‘double standard’ by preventing the Privileged® from using them. What this enables you to ignore is the reality of the power dynamic involved. Language reclamation is a means by which Marginalized People™ gain back some power they are traditionally denied by taking control of words used to demean and discriminate against them. When these words come from Privileged People®, there is a long and very serious negative history behind them that cannot be divorced from the words themselves. Thus, when Privileged People® employ these words, they are perpetuating that history and the psychology behind the word. They are exercising the oppressive power that have become inherent
          to those words – a power Marginalized People™ seek to subvert and dismantle when they use them. 

          Pretend not to understand this. Just continue to imply hypocrisy and pout that it isn’t fair. It also ignores the fact that, from within Marginalized Groups™, discourses around abusive language are actually not simple and there are many divided and varied opinions on the subject. Treating Marginalized People™ like a hive mind is always a great way to further subtly insult them and since the point of this entire debacle is to come out with as many notches on your belt as possible, you want to make sure you slip in as many knocks below their belt as you can manage.

          1. There’s nothing trolling about the question.  The problem appears to be that you think a double standard is perfectly acceptable.  The logic of your position is completely non existent.   “Reclamation” is a lame excuse  to permit racism under the guise of self empowerment.  That’s BS.

          2. @Abe Lincoln :

            “Reclamation” is a lame excuse to permit racism under the guise of self empowerment.

            OK, I think this is about as far as I can dumb it down: When a black person uses “n****r” to refer to another black person it’s clear that they are not asserting or implying any kind of racial superiority over that person.

  22. “OK, I think this is about as far as I can dumb it down: When a black person uses “n****r” to refer to another black person it’s clear that they are not asserting or implying any kind of racial superiority over that person.”

    Never?  That’s a total and complete assumption on your part that is empirically untrue.  It’s certainly your prerogative to think this but there is no objective evidence that your contention is anything but supposition.  Quite the contrary. How about Samuel L. Jackson’s little tirade about Obama? Is it your position that isn’t racist?

    1. How about Samuel L. Jackson’s little tirade about Obama? Is it your position that isn’t racist?

      It is my position that, tasteful or not, Jackson’s “n*gga” comment was clearly not an attempt to assert that Obama was in any way racially inferior to himself.

      Is it good for public discourse for black people to use this word? That is certainly a subject worthy of debate. Does it carry the same connotation as when white people use the word? Absolutely not.

      Seriously, just give it up. This “it’s no worse for a white person to use the n-word than for a black person to use the n-word” line of argument does not reflect well on your fellow Georgians.

      1. Dude… your argument is completely baseless.  It’s a bad argument.  You’re trying as hard as you can to skirt the idea that using that word is racist no matter who uses it.   So then why is the tacit assumption that white people automatically regard the word as demeaning not racist?  Care to answer that one?

        1. So then why is the tacit assumption that white people automatically regard the word as demeaning not racist?  Care to answer that one?

          The assumption is that people of all races have some concept of this word’s long and ugly history as a racist epithet used by whites to demean blacks.

          When a black person uses the word to refer to a peer it re-contextualizes the term, implicitly changing its meaning. When a rich white southerner like Paula Deen uses it to describe the people she would like to see perform for her at a FREAKING PLANTATION… not so much.

          I’m done on this topic. I have no illusions that I’ve changed your opinion, but as one teacher to another I thought it was worth a shot.

    2. Abe, it is not racist if we take racist to mean, as others have said, using one’s own position to demean someone because of their race. So it is not racist but it is something else that is still not good.

      I think it’s quite sad and wrong when black people call each other n****r. I agree with you it is not “reclamation”. “Reclamation” is a concept invented to hide the fact that people will, sadly, perpetuate the same self-damaging messages even when the larger society has stopped doing so in an overt manner. Note that I said “overt”.

      There might be a few black performance artists making performances no one knows about–or black literary critics writing obtuse and over-thought “texts” about “theory” no one reads–that say they are “reclaiming” when they use the “n” word, but mostly it is young people that are not educated that do this and that is what is very sad to me. 

      It is wrong for rappers to continually use this word and take on the image of drug pushers and pimps, creating the idea that the only way out of the cycle of poverty is through petty crimes and violence. And to the “critical theory”-damaged out there, don’t say this is my white male view. This is Maya Angelou’s view. And Bill Cosby’s view. And Michelle Obama’s view. 
      But Abe, I think the problem I have when people–such as yourself– ask the question you did is that there’s this idea of, “They do it. So why can’t I? Why are they being such hypocrites?” It seems to me like you just want an excuse to perpetuate use of that word and continue the abuse, and have very little heart as to what is going on. I apologize if I misread your intent. I just can’t think of any other reason why you would be resentful over not “getting” to use that word.

      1. I wholly disagree with you. Use (especially overuse) of an “offensive” term in a manner other than as a disparaging insult is the best way to remove that term’s power over a marginalized group.
        I say that as a young, white male who uses the word quite often. Apparently I cannot use it here, because an earlier use of it resulted in my comment not being posted at all. I was under the impression we’re all adults, but it seems that assumption does not apply to the moderators.
        I assume many here who disagree with my view would put more weight in the opinions of my friends, nearly all of whom fall into some marginalized group (primarily black, Latin, Asian or female). And they all agree. If not, then I can guarantee we would not be as comfortable with each other playfully using the “offensive” terms this site has banned.

        By the way, though I don’t exactly agree with Abe, I think you’re being remarkably dishonest by claiming that he was resentful over not getting to use “that word”. He’s made it clear he just doesn’t understand why there is a double standard. He hasn’t voiced (as far as I have read) any desire to use the term.

        1. If equality is the standard then it’s racist for anyone to use that word for any reason. If it’s ok to use… it’s ok to use. If not… don’t use it. What could be easier? I fail to understand what’s so difficult to understand about the idea. To say 1 demographic can use it with impunity and no one else… is racist. Surely that can’t be difficult to see?

  23.  There’s a program called  Rocket City Rednecks that has some very very well educated and intelligent and seemingly normal Alabama folks doing sciencey engineering stuff.  I think at least one of them is a genuine “rocket scientist” with a doctorate and everything.  I’ve only seen one episode,but it was kind of neat for me as a Southerner to see other people with a distinctively Southern accent being depicted as smart and science positive. 

  24. I believe it, but only because this lady has the most false smile I have ever seen in my life.

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