Get Realistic : My Opinions on the Paula Deen and NSA Scandals

After a too-long hiatus from writing on my oft neglected blog, I finally had to take to the keyboard after being barraged with news for the past week.

Paula Deen :  (Wo)Man or Monster?

I love the way the media is throwing this debacle up at every turn now that the Food Network and Smithfield have dropped her for her purportedly heinous behavior.     I’m even more tickled by all the PR “experts” (self-proclaimed, I imagine) claiming that the beloved celebrity chef should grovel and wait for time to pass, then accept her reduced fan base and income with a reticent heart.

C’mon.   If anyone even bothers to find and read the offending deposition, it’s clear that this is a woman simply deciding not to perjure herself on the stand.   Instead of lauding her for being honest and having an open discussion about how inappropriate words can tear a rift in society, we prosecute Paula Deen in a very public way for living through a very different time.

So, she said the N-word.  So what?  The deposition states she responded to the inquiry with, “Yes, of course.  But that was a long time ago.”     Paula Deen was born in 1947 in the deep South, when segregation and discrimination were still very rampant.  It was in no way unusual for a white person to use slurs against blacks during this time, something a young child would grow up around and unfortunately regurgitate.   Who hasn’t had a child repeat a foul word they’ve heard (and usually at the least appropriate time)?

The fact that the Food Network has dropped her so quickly, and Smithfield has now followed suit, only serves to annoy me on the point of sheer justice.    Paula Deen probably knew her deposition would go public as she is a highly public figure.   I’d imagine it occurred to her to lie on the stand to prevent a PR nightmare, but she did not.   She went to court to fight a lawsuit against her (which has not been judged yet, so her innocence is still assumed), got on that stand, and told the truth.   This would have been a wonderful opportunity for her sponsors to engender some no-nonsense conversations about hurtful words and how the problem persists 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education.   I am disappointed, and will probably not be watching anything on the Food Network again; nor will I be buying anything from Smithfield (… not that I did before, anyway).

The main point :   We all make mistakes, we can all rise above how we were raised, and we can all be devils or angels depending on our whim.   At the end of the day, we’re all human, and should be more forgiving of each other if we are truly repentant of our mistakes.

NSA :  What the bleep?

I’m sorry, but all I have here is a blast of pure libertarian outrage.

What the frack happened here?   I’ve long feared that 9/11 was going to be the starting point of the degradation of our Constitutional rights, and these jokers have done nothing to assuage that fear since I last posted.       Secret courts, secret authorizations, secret phone call screening, secret email readings, secret this, secret that.

That there is a court essentially removed from the judicial system by the sheer fact that a jury of peers isn’t ever involved should strike terror into everyone’s heart.   Our government officials are only human (yes, human, despite how they appear sometimes) and can be tempted to do terrible things when given enough power.    This is precisely the sort of thing the Constitution tries to prevent.   This court was created by the government, for the government, to serve the government’s needs.    To do this in the name of people who probably didn’t know it existed before this past month is more than slightly pretentious and lofty.

And I am not convinced that the whole surveillance deal, complete with giant secret data center in the middle of nowhere, isn’t a violation of the Fourth Amendment.    Generally speaking, if you are taken to court for a crime, any evidence gathered without a search warrant is inadmissible. Obviously there are a few exceptions, but judges tend to err on the side of caution on this to avoid infringing on someone’s rights.     In the case of the NSA, they screen the data, then obtain a warrant based on that data and information.     Since there could be no discovery without the data, the sifting-through of conversations and communications of Americans is in fact an illegal search-and-seizure.

I wish I had more time and energy to devote to my political beliefs.   In this particular case, I am outraged.   I tend to be a more moderate libertarian, very concerned with the right of everyone to their life, liberty and happiness, but I am steaming mad.   Our government is out of control.    They no longer serve the people, they spend months blocking and nitpicking each others bills so nothing gets done, they add riders onto everything so that corporations and special interests get huge chunks of money via a bill that is so long no one notices it.   They fight with each other and fling useless insults through the media, stirring up the insane political polarization that has taken over America.   And now they are allowing us to lose our privacy in the name of a war on terror that we can’t win.

Long story short :  Terrorists find ways to hurt people no matter what we do, and they were onto our sly spying techniques long ago.     Consider that fear-mongering over terrorists constantly is a smoke screen for the slow cessation of our rights and freedoms.

If you give an inch, they take a mile, and that is why our country was founded on such amazing checks and balances.    And freedom really isn’t free:  we always have to fight for it, no matter how hard it may be, and come together as a country to demand our government start working for us instead of for themselves (and their lobbyists).


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