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Jun 19 2013

Great moments in obliviousness

Celebrity chef Paula Deen is being sued by a former employee for sexual harassment and the use of the N-word. In a deposition, Deen freely admitted that she did use the word and added: “It’s just what they are — they’re jokes…most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks…I can’t determine what offends another person.”

You can’t? Here’s a hint, Paula: There is a very good possibility that Jewish people are offended by Jewish jokes, rednecks by redneck jokes, and black people by black jokes, though it might escape censure if those jokes are told by Jewish, redneck, and black people respectively.

But there is also a strong possibility that people who do not even belong to the targeted group will be offended by jokes based on group stereotypes, irrespective of who tells them.

5 comments

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  1. 1
    Seeker

    I bet if people began telling her stupid Southerner jokes, she’d instantly flip her lid and begin shrieking that she was being persecuted. She’s willfully blind that her words have meanings, but if it were her ox being gored, she wouldn’t be so oblivious.

  2. 2
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    But there is also a strong possibility that people who do not even belong to the targeted group will be offended by jokes based on group stereotypes, irrespective of who tells them.

    Mind = blown.

  3. 3
    schmeer

    I had no idea she was such a racist jerk. Her tv personality is kept so squeaky clean.

    We all hear racist jokes, most of us don’t repeat them. She completely missed the point that she didn’t have to say something horribly offensive to someone, she chose to be an ass.

  4. 4
    jamessweet

    I bet if people began telling her stupid Southerner jokes, she’d instantly flip her lid and begin shrieking that she was being persecuted. She’s willfully blind that her words have meanings, but if it were her ox being gored, she wouldn’t be so oblivious.

    This is not necessarily true. It’s a mixed bag, of course, but many people who argue for the “thick-skinned” approach, are, in fact, themselves pretty thick-skinned about jokes made at their expense. In some ways, that causes part of the obliviousness: “I wouldn’t be offended, so therefore I reject the idea that anyone else might be legitimately offended.”

    It reminds me of the Patton Oswalt essay I read yesterday: http://pattonoswalt.com/index.cfm?page=spew&id=167 (Warning: Long read) The basic point is, your experience does not establish the truth of other people’s experiences.

  5. 5
    jamessweet

    Eh, the Radar Online article is a little bit sensationalist. For instance, when she answered “Yes, of course” to the question of whether she had ever “used the N-word,” it was followed with “It’s been a very long time.” She was basically being really honest — that there are times in the past she has spoken the word, either in anger in the distant past, or quoting someone else (heh, mental image of Paula Deen explaining the use-mention distinction, hahaha), etc.

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a high degree of obliviousness on display here. But nevertheless, the Radar Online article is pretty unfair. Try this one from Entertainment Weekly, which is a little more balanced (and still makes Deen look pretty bad):

    http://news-briefs.ew.com/2013/06/20/paula-deen-lawsuit/

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