Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A different viewpoint....

This is going to be a VERY long one folks, so go on and get a tasty beverage and a snack, you might be here a while.

I am not one of those bloggers who write a lot about current events, or politics, LGBT issues, or even religion. ( Just because I am a bisexual witch does not mean I feel the need to take up the call to educate the masses. I just want to be left alone to be me, there are others out there way more influential, capable, educated, and qualified to teach people about it. I realize that.) All I really have at the end of the day is my opinion, and because I respect people, I tend to keep that to myself, because I have a different outlook on a lot of things than most people do. I am not quick to slam people, or even lift people up, because I understand that everyone looks at things differently, and because I have a wide variety of friends, I think it is better to let a lot of things go then get embroiled in some debate or bitter battle over it. Just because we feel differently about something, does not mean I am going to stop being your friend, or call you stupid, or other names, simply over a difference of opinion, especially if it does not directly affect me. That is just the way I am.

This post is brought about by the whole Paula Deen scandal, and before you roll your eyes or get your dander up, hear me out.

I am not going to write a post rehashing the details of what has happened, or defend or persecute her. I want to talk about something else that is basically a side effect of what has happened with her.

Let me go ahead and get it out of the way and give you a brief statement of where I stand on the whole thing, just so there is no confusion. I will make it quick.

I am not a supporter of Paula Deen.

I think what she did was wrong, although I think her BROTHER is a worse individual, and I in no way condone the things she did, said, or the way she acted. This goes way deeper than her using a racial slur a few times, and I am well aware of that fact.

Having said that, I also think that she is being used as a sacrificial lamb of sorts. I think she is being burned at the stake for a lot of her brother's crimes, and I think that people are trying to force this into a (forgive me) black and white situation, when there are a lot of grey areas that are not being  addressed.

Again, I am not here to debate the right or wrong of what she herself did. I want to talk about everyone else.

But first, a little background:

I was born and raised in North Florida, and I have lived here for my entire life. I was born in 1979, and when I was three years old, we moved from a predominately white county to a predominately black county.

Now a lot of people think Florida is not part of the "South," but where I come from, which is Gadsden  County, anything East of Panama City and North of say Lake City, was simply an extension of South Georgia. I lived about 10 or 15 minutes from the Florida-Georgia line, and there was virtually no distinction between our friends and family a few minutes North of us in Georgia. We sounded the same, we acted the same, we thought the same for the most part.

When I said I moved to a predominately black county, I meant it. White people were ( and are ) the minority in that area. ( I live in a different county now.)  We called my 8th grade year in school " The Year of the White People," not as a racially derogatory thing, but because there was about 30 white kids in school that year, and that was pretty much unheard of. 30 white kids in a 500+ kid school. We were amazed.

I have written before about how I did not have the greatest school experience when it comes to racial issues. I had several black friends ( I mean, let's be honest, there was not much other choice, even if I WERE the type to exclude someone based on skin color...which I am not. ) and even in those 30 white kids, there was a strong clique atmosphere. I was mostly lucky as I rode somewhere in the middle, I was friends with members of all the cliques, mostly because we had  all been friends since we were in Kindergarten and First grade, yet I was not a part OF any of the cliques. I mostly flew under the radar with the white folks. )

The black kids were a whole different story. I did have many black friends, but I had a hell of a lot of black enemies too. These kids were taught to hate white people, we were the ones who had caused all their problems in life. ( Never mind that most of those black kids had way better lives than I did as a kid. ) I had pieces of notebook paper slid over to me, to see if I was " as white a sheet of paper," I had my red hair pulled and snatched by mean little girls, I was cornered often in gym class and in the back hallways, praying that I would not get my ass tore up because when one person fought, 50 other kids joined in. I saw some pretty brutal beat downs in middle school. I was groped against my will by big black guys in the halls and in class. I actually failed P.E. in both 7th and 8th grade ( this was back in the days before P.E. became a mandatory to pass class ) because I started to refuse to dress out, staying in the safety of the bleachers instead of in the middle of a sport ( I hated sports anyways, I was the nerdy reader yet goth girl ) because at least ONE of the gym teachers were not utterly prejudiced ( most were, openly ) so I might have a better shot at not getting a basketball or football to the face, or shoved down to the ground and stomped on, both of which had happened often.

 In shop class in 7th grade, I was whipped with a massive wooden paddle with holes in it by a massive 400 pound, 6 foot 2 black football coach, because of the lies a black girl told on me. I had missed a couple of days of school due to being sick, and we were working on wood joints in shop class. My (white) friend Tim had also missed a couple of days, and on the day we both returned, Coach W. told us to go into the wood room and get the pieces of wood needed to make up the projects we had missed. To the room we went, and the wood I needed was behind the door, and the pieces Tim needed were 30 feet across the room.

So there we were, in opposite corners of a huge room, and this black chick who was in most of my classes that year and hated my guts slung open the heavy steel door, hitting me with it, as I was behind it, and poked her head in the room. I yelled "OW, watch IT," before I saw who it was, and then my blood drained from my face, because I knew trouble was coming, this girl made my life HELL. She looked at me, looked at Tim, ( 30 feet away, still ) and BELLOWED " OOOOH Y'all is KISSING! Ima tell Coach W.!" ( Yeah, that is  how she talked. Sigh. ) She scampers off to go tell Coach and I stayed right where I was, and so did Tim, because we were doing nothing wrong. Coach comes lumbering his ass in there and asks us what happened, and we both told him the truth, we were getting the stuff as we were told to do, we were across the room from each other, and had been the whole time. Well, Coach HATED white people and had no problem telling you so. So he already did not believe us, and it did not help that the girl's friends all backed her up.

He made us come into his office, which had a door but one wall was glass, so he could overlook the shop and sit in his air conditioned office. He was a huge man, and it was hot in the shop, I can't say I blame him. Anyway, everyone was afraid of Coach, even the black kids. He was mean, and brutal, and I have no idea why he even taught because he seemed to hate kids in general. When he took us in the office, we knew we were  in trouble. He asked us what happened one more time, and told us to tell the TRUTH, and we repeated the same story, because it WAS the truth. When we were done, he told us " Well, I don't believe y'all little crackers, and y'all is going to get licks." Now even then, you were supposed to have written permission  to use corporal punishment on a child, and neither of our parents had signed such a thing. We each got 5 licks. Tim went first, and I felt bad, because he was a skinny little thing, and was only wearing thin gym shorts because he has gym next period. I had just come from gym, and I had on my shorts under my jeans, plus, not to be gross, but I was on my moon time and back then I wore two pads, one in front and one in back, to protect my clothing because our classes were so spread out we often did not have time all day to use the restroom. I had a few layers between me and the paddle, but I will not lie, it still hurt. Coach was huge, the paddle was thick and full of holes, and he used a LOT of force. He lifted us both off the ground with the force of his swings. Tim sniveled a bit, trying to be brave, and I did not cry, even though I wanted to, because I was SO PISSED. As I mentioned, the office has a glass wall, and every damn kid in class was lined up in front of that window to watch us get hit. When we got finished and were sent out of the office, the girl who got me in trouble smirked at me, she was happy with herself. ( In case you were wondering, yes I told my parents, yes they flipped out and went to the school and Coach got in trouble. It made my life worse for the next two years. )

Lots of other things happened, but I think you get the point.

Even though I was treated so terribly, I did not call them racial slurs. They called each other that, and they called us "honkys" and "crackers" and things like that. Some of the white kids who had racist parents, and were taught it was okay to call them racial slurs, and some of those who were just fed up in being bullied, called the black kids the  N word and other things. Not all the kids, but some. However, these terms were also used in jest. Black kids would call white kids crackers and the like, joking, and the white kids with black friends called them the N word also in jest.

Now, that was us kids. I have to point out about the older folks too. Now, people of our parents generation tended to use the word with hate, or in a derogatory manner. That generation seemed to be the one that caused a lot of issues, however the next generation, what would be the grandparents generation of us kids, they used the words too, but it was not usually filled with hate. It was descriptive, because in their day and age, that was normal. The N word was interchangeable and usually as innocent as if they used the world black, and the black folks used honky and cracker in the same manner. Now of course, not ALL of them used it in a seemingly innocent manner, but a huge portion of those people did, and I know this because I witnessed it. I have been present for conversations between adults where it was talked about, and I heard from both white and black older adults that this is just the way it was, and that is how they used it still today ( today being 20 years ago or more now. )

I come from poor financial stock. My Dad's family was poor, and had been poor for many generations back. My Mom's side was better off, but not rich by any means ( although they are all mostly filthy rich now, not that we are. ) I have no idea if we had slaves way back in the day, but I know that if we DID, it was MANY generations back, because the last several generations  were dirt poor and about the same in class as the slaves were at the time. I do not say that lightly, or think that white ( or Indian in my Dad's case ) were treated exactly the same or as poorly as slaves were, not at all. I am just saying that we were not much higher on the totem pole, to use a common phrase from my childhood.

To tie this back to Paula for a moment, she came from the deep south, in a time where those words were normal, and not always derogatory. She came from a time where those words were used as a description just as calling me redheaded is now. I have NO clue of her intent when she said what she did,or did the things she did. What I DO know is that not everyone who uses those words, then or NOW, mean  them in a terrible way. I know black and white people, TODAY, that use those words, and they do not use them in the "bad way." Does that make it right? Nope. Does that mean I am going to do that, because they say it is okay with them, or because some freaking celebrity said that is what they do? Nope. Have I said things in private, such as repeating a joke, in the past, that used those types of words? Yep. Have I been told ( by black friends ) things in the same manner? Yep. Do I think racism is funny or right? Hell no. Am I perfect, or naive and think that 99% of the population have not, at some point in their lives, uses a racial slur, either in a derogatory fashion, or in a joking manner where no one involved got offended? Not even close.

I do not even hold hatred in my heart against Coach or the girl who got me in trouble anymore. I do not think they should lose everything they own because of what they did. Does it make it okay, what they did? Not in the least. But holding a witch hunt will not accomplish anything other than making me just as bad as they were.

Here is where folks will balk at my words.

If I were being abused at work, a place I worked at WILLINGLY, and I chose to REMAIN in that environment, then it is just as much MY fault for being in that situation as it is for the employer to treat the employee in such a manner. Now I understand that these people need their jobs. They have to survive, feed their families. I am NOT condoning the actions of the employer. But these were not slaves. These were free citizens. They did not have to keep being treated that way. While I know it was a different world back then, there were still things to be done to stop or bring to light that type of behavior.

I worked for the Dept. of Education at one time ( well, twice, this was the first time ) in my life, and one morning, I go in to work and a co-worker calls me over and wants me to look at a video online. It was a video of two college girls filming themselves having sexual relations with their very large German Shepard. When I saw what it was I said "EWWWW that is SICK," and then I walked away and went to my desk and started my work day. Was I grossed out? Uh, yeah. Was I offended? No. I walked away. I was not forced to watch. Do I think it was inappropriate? Sure, it was a work place, (before work hours though, and there was no ban on what we could watch outside of work hours..) but as it in NO way affected me I did not feel I needed to go and tell someone.That may be wrong to some, but that is how I felt. I did not feel demeaned or unsafe or feel like my work place was a hostile environment, but if I HAD, then I would have taken the appropriate steps to rectify the situation. To bring it back to Paula for a bit, the second time I was told I would be paid in beer, or told I had to use a particular bathroom because of the color of my skin, you can bet your ass that I would have STOPPED WORKING THERE, and contacted the appropriate people and hopefully got something done about it THEN...not 20 years later when someone else says something first. I would not have STAYED and kept not being paid, or if I was being told things or treated in a manner that made me upset or uncomfy, I would have beat a path out of there.

Before you all think I am heartless or stupid, or siding with the employers, I am not, I swear. I am fully aware of the competition for work, I am fully aware of the line between staying and putting up with abuse and having my kids go hungry or be homeless. I am fully aware of the rampant discrimination of that time period, and chances are that if they had gone to someone, they would not get the results they needed because of how things worked back then. I know all this. What happened to these employees in question is AWFUL. NO ONE should have to work in those conditions. I do not think that it is, in ANY WAY, the employee's fault that this happened. However, I feel that one of Paula's biggest crimes is TURNING A BLIND EYE while her brother treated these people like trash. I do not feel that Paula should be the one up there losing everything. Should she go unpunished? Of course not! She did things that were very wrong. But I feel people are using her as a scapegoat, first for her brother, whom no one cares about because he was not in the public spotlight as Paula is, and secondly because she is an easy target. We can't seem to prosecute the oh, say, POLITICIANS that the populace keeps electing into office, who do much worse things TO EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN EVERY DAY, but we can do it to an old woman who messed up 20 plus years ago. We can go at each other's throats because of what side of the argument you fall on against a CELEBRITY that WE elevated to star status, because we can't go after those people we really want to go after.

To sum part one up, Paula and ESPECIALLY her brother should NEVER have treated their employees in such a manner, nor said the things they said to their employees. Never. The employees should never have been made to feel they were in a hostile work environment in any way. However, the employees should never have stayed or allowed themselves to be treated in such a way.You can't always control how another person will treat you, but you CAN control how you will allow yourself to be treated. They should have come forward LONG before now.

Which brings me to my next point.

( Told ya it was a long one...I have three points to make, although I admit the one above is not clear cut. The  next two will be.)

Part two is about how we view and treat these "celebrities."

We, as a populace, tend to idolize and admire these people we call celebrities. They are usually gorgeous, talented, and rich people that live the life some of us wish we could have. We hang on to their every word,  we scour the internet for news, we are sad when they pass away, we love it when they do good things, and we friggen slaughter then when they mess up. We take it personal, we are disappointed and let down when someone with so much power ( power that WE gave them, but I will get to that. ) uses it in a way we deem unfit.


Why do we hold these people to a higher standard than we hold say, elected officials and everyday people we come in contact with? Why do  we treat these people as demi-gods, when they are just NORMAL PEOPLE who happen to have a particular talent that puts them in the public eye and gets them lots of our money. Ah, there it is. Money. We paid OUR money to elevate these NORMAL people into superstar status. Therefore, we think and act like they OWE us something, because we paid for them to do these things, so they MUST be everything we want them to be, right?


Sure, they may be mega rich and beautiful and talented, but they are still NORMAL people, just like you and  me. They just so happen to have a particular talent that gives them opportunities that we all do not have. Just like you and me, they are just humans, doing what they have to do in this life to survive until it is over. They just happen to be in the public eye and be a little better off financially than most of us. It is very unfair and unrealistic to hold them to some ideal they did not ask for. Just like everyday people, some of them are really wonderful people. They do great things, they go out of their way to do good, they use their money for worthy causes, they spend their time in noble pursuits. They strive to make the world a better place. On the other hand, some of them are total and complete asshats. They are mean, selfish, could care less about the world, and just like so many other NORMAL, UNFAMOUS people, they just want to go to work and be left the hell alone, they could give a shit less about anyone not important to them.

Each and every one of us have this potential, to be good, or bad, to put it simply. Just because these people have a job that rakes in a ton of money and affords them the chance to do things every day people may not get does not change who they are at their core.

I am willing to bet that Paula Deen's brother ( what is his name? Bubba, or  something like that? ) was just as much of an asshat before he got a little bit of money as he is today. I bet MONEY on it, and I am broke as hell. I know it is a safe bet. I bet Angelina Jolie was as close to the same person she is now before she got famous.

There are a ton of celebrities I could name on both sides of the spectrum, but you get my point.

My question is, why do we really act SO shocked and surprised and take it so personally when a famous person does not live up to OUR standards WE impose upon them? Not THEIR standards and expectations for themselves, mind you, but a bunch of strangers who do not know them at all? Why do we think because they have a lot of money and spend a lot of time on camera that they have to be anything other than what THEY want to be? How would you feel if that famous person came to you, and told you that because you did not do XYZ, or because you did ABC that you deserved to have everything you are stripped from you, that you were such a disappointment to them because you did not live up to the expectations of a TOTAL stranger, that you were a terrible person and deserved to have everything taken from you. I hope you would tell them, in whatever way you  feel appropriate, to kiss your ass, that you live by your own standards and by what makes you happy, and that person can get bent, famous or not famous.

Now I am not really talking about Paula on this one, because she did some pretty shady shit, and she has to live with the consequences of her actions. Everyone does. In a perfect world, we would all treat each other with love, respect, and equality, "common" folk and celebrities alike, but this is not a perfect world. We, as a people, have not reached that point yet.

My point is, you should be just as outraged if your neighbor called someone a queen as you are that Alec Baldwin called someone a queen ( AFTER they disrespected his pregnant wife, by the way. Where is everyone slamming that guy and ripping HIM to shreds? ) And maybe you would be, and that is great. That is how it should be. My point is that just because Alec Baldwin is famous does not mean he should be MORE punished and in a much more extreme manner that your neighbor would.

I do not think that it is right for us to feel that just because these people are famous that they are any less human that you and I are, and needs to be held to some more severe standard than everyone else. On the flip side, I also strongly disagree about celebs getting these little slaps on the wrist when they break the law, instead of getting the same punishment that an non famous person would get. They do not deserve to be treated any differently unless their actions indicate they need to be treated differently. Just because someone SEEMS so sweet and nice, does not always indicate who they are as a person, and just because a person seems like a jerk does not mean they are. You do not know them personally.  You have no clue how these people are in "real life.." all you see is what is on a big screen, or on television or the net, where it is some people's JOBS to make these folks look as terrible as possible, because that is what a HUGE chunk of the population wants. They want to see these people's dirty laundry. They LOVE to see celebrities to trip up, to do something "stupid" to show their  HUMANITY! Dirt gets WAY more press than good stuff. Not to mention, half of that stuff is fake anyways, and done simply for ratings or for publicity's sake.

I want to share with you a bit I posted earlier tonight on a social networking friend's page, as I touched on how I feel about the whole thing there:

"Celebrities are doing there JOB. Their job as an actor, a comedian, a TV personality. WE are the ones who elevate them into role model status. THEY are just doing their JOB. Just because WE choose to elevate them to some lofty ideal, does NOT mean THEY are GOOD AND DECENT people. It does NOT mean THEY are actually going to act the way WE think they need to, simply because they are a celeb. They did not sign a contract when they reached celeb status that said " I will always be the perfect and moral ROLE MODEL for you, and I so do solemnly vow to never say a single bad thing about anyone or do anything stupid or wrong, because from this moment on I now renounce the fact I am a HUMAN and I will be the the perfect ROLE MODEL for humanity."

NO! They do not. The problem is, people expect these people who are doing a JOB to be something more than they are because WE choose to elevate them to this status. WE choose to throw our money and support to these people and help make them who they are. I UNDERSTAND why people are disappointed, because as a human being, she, and everyone else should be better, but I fail to see why ANYONE acts all shocked and scandalized. THEY ARE HUMAN. Some humans SUCK. 

I might ADMIRE someone on TV or movies or in the entertainment business, but I have enough sense not to follow them off a cliff if they jumped off too. If I watched her, and then found all this out, NO WAY IN HELL would I start going around and treating people like crap JUST BECAUSE PAULA DID. 

I feel people grossly OVERestimate these celebrity people, and grossly UNDERestimate the intelligence of the population. ( YES I know there are idiots out there, I know. )

For the record, I think what she did was wrong. I am NOT a Deen supporter. She will get what she deserves, it is already happening to her. What happens to her next is honestly up to her. Having said that, I think it is OUR fault, as a SPECIES, that things get to this point because we place soooo much credibility and things onto these people who YOU DON'T KNOW, and most likely DO NOT DESERVE to be put on this pedestal. They are just normal PEOPLE who have a talent, and that talent puts them in the public eye. SHOULD they all be decent people? Yes. ARE they are decent people? Hell no."

That pretty much  sums up how I feel about  that part.

Celebs are just people, like you and I, and they do great things, they make really stupid mistakes, and they do really abhorrent things, just like we are ALL capable of. The fact they are famous has NO bearing on the situation, aside from the fact that they will be going through the consequences in front of an audience of millions,while what we do or do not do might only be known by a few people.

Still with me?  Thanks, I know this is a very long one with a lot going on, but I am ready to get to the final point of the day.

This situation with Paula has brought a lot of strong emotions out in people. Almost everyone has an opinion, usually a strong one, about the whole thing. That is expected. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. What bothers me is watching not only strangers attack strangers on blog posts, news articles, and social media, but FRIENDS calling each other stupid and ignorant, and many other things because of the difference in opinion. I have seen people be attacked, their whole belief system under fire, by people they call friends. Because they are not willing to slam someone, then they get called names, they get their  morals undercut, they get treated harshly, and the same thing happens if you do slam someone.

Call me crazy, but treating someone like shit because they do not feel the same way you do, when the subject is about someone who treated people harshly, sounds a bit...oh, I don't know..hypocritical? Calling people you normally respect ignorant and stupid makes you look pretty crappy yourself, in my opinion. I understand we all have our own opinion, but do we really have to resort to name calling and defamation of character over this? Is this not kind of the pot calling the kettle black, when you resort to similar tactics that the person you are so worked up over used?

Here is a bit I posted in a blog comment on an excellent post by Inciting A Riot earlier, that shares another bit on what I think about it:

"What is just as bad, in a way, is that the people are turning so vicious on each OTHER. One person acts like Deen should be put to death, considering the vehemence she puts forward into ripping Deen apart, and if anyone in ANY way says anything other than also ripping Deen apart, well, then that person just can't deal with you and your stupidity. You must be stupid since you have your own *different* opinion that is not in agreement with hers. If you do not agree then you think shaming and slurs and gay bashing and discrimination and child and animal abuse are all okay! We can't possibly be friends if you don't think Deen is the anti-Christ!

Extreme pot calling the kettle black, much?

On the other side of the spectrum, there is a person ( and I am just using general terms here for he and she ) who is a staunch supporter of Deen, and thinks this is all "hogwash" and a big bunch of sensationalism and sure she should not have done those things but it is really as bad as all this that has happened, normal people do it every day and this does not happen to them...and if you are so against her than you are stupid and wrong and you must be one of those tree hugging hippies who thinks everyone should love everyone and you are an idiot because THAT IS NOT HOW THE REAL WORLD WORKS! We can't possibly be friends because you don't think Deen is being judged to harshly!!"

Same pot, same kettle.

Forgive my bad analogy, but the world is not so black and white. If ONE person ( celebrity ) can be burned at the stake for this, then shouldn't every single person, normal, celeb, politician, whatever, be held to the same exact standards? Does that mean I can go my grocery store manager's house and take his money, take his store, totally destroy him because I heard him call someone a racial slur, or smack a female employee on the ass as she walked by? No? Why not? 

Oh right, because he is not a role model. He is not famous. Yet, I give him a hell of a lot more money since I need food to live than I do Paula. Paula means nothing to me. I have never given her one red cent of my money. Yet my grocery store manager gets an insane amount of money from me every year. Shouldn't I care MORE about what HE said, than Deen said?

"But you can not shop there, since you heard these things."

True, but I am dirt poor and can hardly afford the gas to get to the ONE grocer in my tiny town. I do not have the options to go elsewhere all the time. We all have the option of turning these celebs into what they are. And we can take it away, as we have seen. All they are doing is making Deen a sacrifice, because everyday people can't do this to other everyday people, or the people we elect into office who do SO MUCH WORSE than Paula EVERY DAY. For that reason alone, it bugs me. What she did was wrong, but what is being done to her is not exactly right either. 

The people turning on EACH OTHER is CERTAINLY not right. "

That is what it seems like to me, and based on what I have seen around the net, others feel similar to the way I do. ( And of course there are those that think everything I have said here today is wrong. I am aware of this.)

Now I realize I am not the smartest person out there, but it does not take a genius to feel and see that this is wrong. No one is going to get their point across by using these tactics, unless their point is to prove what a jerk they are being. Being a jerk in the name of advocacy makes you no less of a jerk. It undermines the message you are trying to get across, and when an influential person uses these methods, you really become hypocritical. I could go on about people parroting these influential people, acting just like them and speaking as they are, and trying to emulate them instead of being their own unique person with their own unique voice, even if the message is the same, instead of a carbon copy of people who might not even really deserve to be emulated, but that is a whole different blog post, and another novel length one to boot. It also ties in with celebrities, and our fascination with them, and the fact that we really do not know them well enough to be acting like them or repeating their message without doing our own legwork first.

I just feel it is counterproductive to tear into each other and treat people badly while arguing about how a celebrity mistreated people. That seems a bit ironic to me.

Arguing about a person who has mistreated others while bashing the people you are talking with is not the way to go about it, and it makes you look ridiculous. It makes people lose respect for you, and for some it is tarnishing their carefully crafted image. Since some people polish their image to reflect what is really inside...you are losing the credibility and the things that  made people look up to you in the first place.

Just like Paula Deen.

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