Thursday, June 27, 2013

Civil Rights, Exhaustion and Paula Deen

I used to be able to talk a lot more about politics and social justice, but talking about those things on the internet has made me exhausted of talking about those things on the internet. The outrage, the defensiveness, the arrogance... It's really hard to deal with these things anymore. It's not like having a screaming match on social media actually wins or changes anything, and I know what I think is right without having to have it validated by having made some boorish lout call me fat or whatever they think is going to hurt me the most.

I had wanted to write something about the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and dismissing Prop 8, but so many people are saying it so much better--particularly people who were oppressed by these pieces of legislation, which I, though offended by their existence and disgusted with my nation for enacting them, was not directly oppressed by. I'm glad these two things are gone. And yes, I know the end of DOMA doesn't mean gay marriage is automatically legal all across the country. Lots of people are pointing that out, as if this victory for a more enlightened future is somehow meaningless because it didn't fix everything at once. This was a federal action that made it legal to treat people as if they were less human and therefore less entitled to protection and representation under the law because some people find boys kissing icky. If you can't celebrate the end of that particular piece of odious nonsense, you've lost sight of what you're fighting for. Another step on the road. And a good one.

The real oddity and outrage is the Supreme Court also doing away with a key piece of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Texas immediately taking advantage of it in order to make it hard for people of color to vote. Scalia--who will one day be mercifully dead, I keep reminding myself--seemed to justify this by claiming that racism doesn't exist anymore, which was news to me. Roberts seemed to confirm that it was important legislation that ensured equal access to voting even as he let it go down in flames because, you know, racism is totally not a thing anymore because Obama.

I just... the dissonance... I can't... protecting voting rights is important, so let's stop legally protecting them... but the same justices... think it's an insult... to stop protecting inequality in marriage... so... what? Have you read Scalia's weirdly homophobic and angry dissent on the DOMA decision? He basically says that the Supreme Court shouldn't be able to decide what's constitutional and what isn't. Well, sure, unless you go by the actual Constitution, which gives the Supreme Court that exact power. He also claims to be upset that striking down DOMA gives the states too much power to discriminate against the LGBT community, despite having just struck down legislation that was stopping the states from having the power to discriminate against minority voters.

Sometimes you just can't see a way out for this stupid country and its stupid bigotry.

Just fucking grow up already, America.

And also there's Paula Deen.

I already hated this woman for two reasons. First, because she irritates the living fuck out of me with her loud, obnoxious caricature of a Southern woman. "Put some South in your mouth"? Jam a brick in it. And second, because for years she peddled this pleasing fantasy that you could and should eat all of the butter and gravy and cream and shit you want without worrying about the health costs, only to become diabetic, and then to not tell her audience she was diabetic until she had made a deal to peddle diabetes medication. Opportunism, the kind this country encourages because free market.

I have a bunch of thoughts on this controversy, which is way more thoughts than I like having about Paula Deen, so I'm exorcising them right now.

A. She is definitely being made an example of.

B. Yes, liberals can be just as big a bunch of bullies and hypocrites as conservatives, but I also don't see why that means people have to be tolerant of intolerance.

C. Live by the market, die by the market. Some people think Paula losing so much of her livelihood because of the racist comments is an outsize punishment. I would argue that the Food Network, Smithfield Hams, Walmart and all of the other companies dropping her have the right to decide for themselves whether or not they want someone who has offended a great deal of the population with her comments representing them.

D. Paula Deen did make those comments something like 20 years ago. Honestly, I was much more offended by her openly pining for the days of the Antebellum South with her fantasy of a Plantation-themed wedding and her fear that doing something like that would make people think she was a racist. Gee, you think it might? Just a little? Do you think maybe someone would argue that there's really only one kind of person who thinks something like that might be wonderful?

E. When someone is deposing you and asks if you've ever used a significant racial slur, just keep tight and say "Yes" or even "Yes, in the past, I'm sorry to say I have." Do not say "Yes, of course."

F. Is the timing of this significant? Not to be conspiracy theory guy, but this stuff getting exposed almost days before her Food Network contract was set to expire seems awfully convenient for someone.

G. The apology video only made things worse. It looked like this: record. say line. pause. publicist feeds Paula another line. record. say line. pause. etc. You couldn't find your own words regarding how bad you felt about all of that?

H. Seriously, though, I never thought I'd see the day when someone was too racist for even Walmart to support. Also, the people who are now supporting her by buying her book and signing up for her cruise... how many of them genuinely think Paula's character is being assassinated, and how many are closet racists congratulating her for having the courage to say what they all want to say?

I honestly don't want to speculate on whether or not Paula Deen is still a racist. I don't know enough about her to speculate or care. But I do feel like she's probably not enough of an active hatemonger to want the support of those people who always come out of the woodwork to support hate speech.

Seriously, have you read enough of the comments about how black people "get" to "always" say "racist shit" and "we have to just accept it" for this round of white outrage yet?

UPDATE 6/28: Roger clarifies for me that only Section 3 of DOMA was struck down. He's right, a LOT of people are misreporting that.

UPDATE #2 6/28: The Rude Pundit's column on this is excellent.


Chicago Erratic said...

First, C is an excellent point and one that I thought of, too. The fact that the market does not want ugly people to be supermodels does not make people jump up and down. So I'm flabbergasted that people are surprised that someone who built a career peddling the "everybody's food loving mama" image had it destroyed because people don't want a racist mama.

Second, her company is under suit because of discrimination. When she acts like "Well, everybody makes jokes about Jews and blacks..." Yeah. Have nooooo idea how that attitude may have fostered a hostile workplace. <- {sarcasm}

Did she burn a cross on a neighbor's lawn? No. But using racial slurs and thinking it's fun to enact a time period where you still owned people still makes you an a$$hole. And if no one wants to buy apple pie from a racist a$$hole, well... maybe it will be a lesson to the next celebrity.

Dr. Monkey Hussein Monkerstein said...

Well put.

Roger Owen Green said...

This is more my problem, really, but "strike down the Defense of Marriage Act" is just incorrect. And if you were the only one writing it, I may not have even noted it. But it's the librarian in me that's going nuts, because I'm seeing it EVERYWHERE - Salon, LA Times, myriad other places. SCOTUS struck down Section 3 of DOMA; Section 2, which has to do with the states, still exists.

Sorry to be such a fussbudget, but when people search the Internet 20 years from now, they'll be confused by the references to striking down DOMA in 2013, when it didn't happen until 2018. (From my lips...)

Roger Owen Green said...

Oh, I would have fired Paula Deen over the diabetes thing.

phoniexflames said...

The oddest thing about Scalia's dissent is how much it exposes him as a deluded nutbag. The guy cites his OWN DISSENTS in his dissent. Meaning, in order to bolster his legal argument with legal precedent, he uses references that are not legal precedent. That HE wrote.

like I said. Deluded nutbag.