For your consideration, I propose adding a new word to the lexicon:
Paula Deened (v) – The act of taking a person who is absolutely harmless (possibly widely beloved) and portraying that person as the personification of evil. Often accomplished by exaggerated moral outrage at something the target did in the distant past or a small act that would otherwise go unnoticed but for agitators looking for any fuel that could be thrown on the fire of public shame.
After she wore that short skirt to the church social, the other women totally Paula Deened her.
I don’t know Paula Deen. We’re from basically the same part of the world, so I’ve got an idea about her background. She likes butter and fried things, and I like butter and fried things, so we’d probably get along. The impression I get is that her recent success and wealth have turned her into something of a limousine liberal, but I can’t know for sure.
But I do know that she’s not the bastard offspring of Hannibal Lechter and Darth Vader, contrary to the opinion of The New York Times’ Frank Bruni:
Paula Deen is where sass meets crass, where the homespun and folksy curdle into something with a sour aftertaste. [sounds like the tag line for a horror movie poster, “It Came from the Back of the Refrigerator!” – j]
Her manner may be as sugary as her cooking, her smile as big as the hams she hawked for Smithfield. But she doesn’t pause when she should. Doesn’t question herself when she must.
There’s a dearth of reflection, a deficit of introspection, and that’s not just a generational thing and not just a regional thing, as some of her fans and other observers have begun to assert, unprepared to surrender their image of Paula the Southern Eccentric to the reality of Paula the Deep-Fried Boor.
Good grief. In case you missed it, he goes on for several more column inches explaining how Paula Deen, TV cooking show host, is Everything That’s Wrong With America.
She was a mass-market Obama-campaigning celebrity bazillionaire, and it all went south in 48 hours because she’s said to have uttered a certain word in private conversation decades ago.
Did you say a racist word in the Sixties? A homophobic one in the Seventies? A transphobic one in the Oughts? It’s out there somewhere, lurking, like the shark in Jaws, ready to bite your leg off when you least expect it.
And now that we know the government is keeping track of all our communication, rest assured that we’ll all have plenty of sharks swimming around us in the future. If you think, “I’ve never done anything that could come back to bite me like that,” you are wrong.