Should We Forgive Paula Deen?

Bruce Lee said: “Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”

There is no one person, living or dead, who can or could claim they never made a mistake. The mistakes I’ve made are more numerous than the hairs on my head, and I’d wager that most people would admit to the same. So, the question that comes to my mind when a public figure makes a mistake is: Why are we treating them differently than anyone else? The answer is invariably: because they’re famous. Which simply begs the question: Why does fame magnify mistakes?

Recently, during a deposition, famous southern cook, and author Paula Deen admitted to having used the word “N****r.” She even mentioned having wanted to plan a plantation-style wedding. The backlash to these admissions were quick and brutal. Almost immediately, Deen went on what some are describing as an “apology tour.” Deen has said many things in regard to her admissions; and to me, it seems as though she truly feels remorse. Some think otherwise.

Obviously, the use of racial slurs and inappropriate language is an ongoing problem in our country; but it is one especially tied to people of her generation. Deen was brought up in a time much more pressurized than today. Many times, people of her generation, despite knowing the cruelty of racism, become stuck in a mentality; a mentality that remains fixed in their mind long after they, as a person, have progressed socially and philosophically. This is not an excuse, but the truth.

Whether or not you believe Paula Deen is a racist is not the point. Whether or not you think she should have been fired from Food Network isn’t the point either. The point is this: She has admitted to the mistakes she made. Now it’s time for us to let it go.

The interesting thing about this whole situation is that people don’t want to let it go. Human beings love to witness the fall of public figures, because it makes them feel better about themselves. We have all made mistakes just as bad as the ones Deen made. There is not a single one of us that can cast a stone without it coming right back at us.

Human beings, in a general sense, have a sick desire to magnify the misfortunes of others because it makes us feel good. So when an opportunity comes to augment the mistakes of a celebrity, we jump at the chance. We do this in spite of the knowledge that if the same thing were done to us, we would consider it unfair. It’s a sickness on loan to us from the Devil himself. We must be better.

Once again, you may not believe Paula Deen. I don’t care. As Gandhi said: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Let’s be strong, and forgive her. Anyone who does not is a hypocrite.