Open letter to Paula Dean and Sam Pepper

I was going to follow the title of this blog post with some expletives, but several things stopped me from doing so:

  1.  I am at work.
  2.  I am using work equipment to blog right now, as I left my tablet accessories at home.
  3.  Throwing the F-word around loses its effectiveness after a while.  Especially after hearing some drunk, obnoxious American students in lederhosen use it on the S-bahn the other day on their way to Oktoberfest, forcing me to feel embarrassed for my countrymen, both former and current.

As per usual, I will try to keep it short and sweet. I cannot guarantee that I will, though.

For those not in the know, some context:

Paula Deen: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/24/paula-deen-network_n_5876080.html

In particular…

That said, however, Deen is less candid and open when it comes to her history of political incorrectness. Perhaps in an effort to combat her negative public image, Deen’s new videos emphasize her close relationship with Branch and Johnson, who are gay and black respectively. (Deen notoriously compared Johnson’s skin tone to the color of a blackboard in a 2012 interview with New York Times reporter Kim Severson.) In “Meet Team Deen,” Johnson says that Deen has been like a second mother to him, while the chef herself quips that Branch often calls himself “the daughter [she] never had.”

When asked whether she was interested in exploring the racial aspects of the history of Southern cuisine on any of her new shows, Deen told HuffPost that she didn’t know the history of any of her dishes further back than her grandmother. And when asked directly what the scandal had taught her about the country’s racial dynamics, she sighed, then said, “Um … I just learned that words … they’re powerful. And they can hurt, no matter how old they are.” She said almost the exact same thing on the Today Show the day before.

Sam Pepper:

1. http://www.dailystar.co.uk/tv/big-brother/401386/Sam-Pepper-claims-groping-prank-was-social-experiment

2. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/sam-pepper-second-prank-video-this-time-showing-a-woman-indecently-assaulting-men-on-the-street-removed-by-youtube-9750661.html

and hold on, because it just got worse:

3. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/youtube-star-sam-pepper-accused-of-soliciting-nude-photos-fr#130h7eq

So…

Dear Ms. Dean and Mr. Pepper,

I don’t want to get into it too much, as you both are very busy folks, and I am sure that repairing your respective public images leaves you no spare time to read whatever advice any random stranger would care to throw at you either online or off, but I have one suggestion that I guarantee will throw the haters, lawyers, accusers et. al. off your collective backs.

It’s called…wait for it…

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY.

First off, Ms. Dean, please.  You know very well this was NEVER about how words can hurt, and it was all about a 30+ year pattern of discrimination, abuse, and retaliatory efforts by both yourself and your brother Bubba at your restaurant in Savannah, GA (as detailed here: http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2013/06/entertainment/deen-deposition/).  Saying that it was just about one word or a few words, as some of your more racist fans are wont to do, is not only dishonest, it is disingenuous.  You really think people are that stupid (well, mabye many of your fans are, but…)?  As noted from these interviews being reproduced, the press is not willing to let go, and while you think you can get away with just owning up to “one word”, believe me, you won’t be off the hook (much) until you own up to ALL of it.

All of it.

Your “poor little old lady from the South” schtick is not going to work this time.  You were old enough to experience and learn from the Civil Rights movement.  This gives you (and your brother) no excuse to be ignorant of history.  Actually, that’s not true, as Bubba told one guy threatening to go to the EEOC regarding his actions that he “has no civil rights here”.  So you actually do know your history.  And because it did not support your views, you chose to ignore it.  And take advantage of the willful ignorance/stupidity of your fans, as well.

So, good luck in your little digital butter bubble, Ms. Dean.  When it pops and you rejoin us in the real world, and are ready show amends for all the horrible things you did, as opposed to what you said, we will be waiting with open arms.

Second off, Mr. Pepper…I don’t have much to say, as I didn’t follow you much until this current new cycle came up, but WTF?!?!?!?!?!  Are you serious?  The moment you get called on your stupid little bullshit prank video, its “Oh, it was a social experiment”.  Really? Was soliciting nudes a social experiment as well? Was playing equal opportunity perv with your second video, and then playing victim before doing so, was a social experiment as well?

My notice to Ms. Dean applies to you as well.  Unless its some clueless fan with the intelligence of an amoeba (and that is an insult to amoebae), no one is going to let you off the hook unless you own up.  Don’t sit there and say “Well, it was done to me by my fans – to whome I could have just said no, don’t do that – so…” but admit that you misfired, you misfired still, say your sorry, you did something stupid and move on.

Own up to ALL of it.

Now what have you done? Your insistance on lack of wrong doing has opened up a can of worms.  The accusations coming forth are actually worse than the actual initial crime.  Its one thing to just be a perv.  You are now being shown to (possibly) be a predator.

Not a smooth move, is it?

I am sure you are hoping this will die down, and once this does, you can go back to business as usual.  But you have lost a lot of friends and respect in the YouTube community.  Not to mention the thousands of dollars in ad revenue that your video channel disappearing before your eyes.  When it pops, you hit rock bottom, and you rejoin us in the real world, and are ready show amends for all the horrible things you did, as opposed to what you said, we will be waiting with open arms.

Hoping you both will do the right thing. Peace.

XXOO,

Helen

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