I've been thinking about Paula Deen a lot this week. Her face has been plastered on the news every hour or so.
I watched her tearful interview on the Today show, and my heart went out to her. She's clearly upset by and ashamed of the behavior that got her in this current mess. She's terribly hurt by the condemnation she's received from so many of her sponsors. She has apologized over and over for her language twenty-seven years ago.
Apparently, an employee filed a law suit, claiming the working atmosphere in Deen's empire is discriminatory. Over the course of the trial, Deen admitted she has used racial slurs in the past - almost thirty years ago. Immediately, the Food Network dropped her. Not two days later, Sears and Home Depot dropped her - they won't be selling her cookware anymore. She's losing her Las Vegas restaurants. And there's probably more to come.
I don't know every detail of the suit filed against her, but this punishment upon punishment seems extreme. Yes, she needs to correct her work environment, clean up whatever unjust shenanigans are going on. I don't deny people have been hurt. Deen is a senior citizen who was raised in the south, and, over the years, some attitudes might have needed adjusting.
But, the woman is facing it. She acknowledges that years ago she used some hateful words. Not anymore. Not for decades. One can't build her brand to the level Deen has by systematically treating people badly. The demonization of the woman seems unnecessarily brutal.
I imagine we all have said things we later regretted. I certainly have. The human heart is often ignorant and insensitive. It can be fearful and defensive and prideful. This is the condition we all share with Paula Deen. Every one of us.
I pray we remember this as we watch the Deen saga play out. Because she is a high profile figure, her sins are glaring and repeatedly highlighted. She is paying for her mistakes in a very public, painful way. I would never want that focus on my imperfect heart.
I pray forgiveness for Deen emerges soon. Nobody benefits from being incessantly dragged through the mud; certainly not the drag-ee, but not the dragg-er either. God alone is qualified to judge the deeds of man. And all of us will stand before Him someday.