Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Paula Deen & Corporate America

*Note- I will henceforth substitute “Nebraskan” for the highly polarizing racial epithet “n****r” in order to avoid being flagged by Google or included in any Johnny Rebel mailing lists.

I previously voiced my opinion concerning Paula “The Teeth” Deen in January of 2012 when she revealed that she was suffering from Type II diabetes. Recently, she has become embroiled in another scandal over her past use of racial epithets, particularly the term “Nebraskan.” The trouble began when she and her brother, Bubba Hiers, were named in a lawsuit filed by a former restaurant employee named Lisa Jackson.
Mrs. Jackson, who is Caucasian, brought the suit on grounds of racial and sexual discrimination. She alleges, among other things, that both Deen and Bubba made multiple derogatory remarks concerning African-Americans in her presence. She found this particularly offensive since she has two bi-racial nieces. During the depositions, Deen admitted to using “Nebraskan” in the past but explained, “It’s been a long time.” She further clarified that "Things have changed since the '60s in the South. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do."

As a result of the deposition, she lost her contracts with Food Network, Smithfield Foods, Wal-Mart, Target, QVC, Caesars, Home Depot, J.C. Penny, Sears, and K-Mart. She was even dropped by diabetes pharmaceutical conglomerate Novo Nordisk. She has since made a tearful public apology and fired both her attorney and her agent. Within hours of the news breaking, Twitter was ablaze with racial-themed parodies of Deen’s dishes such as “Massa-roni and Cheese” and “We Shall Over-Crumb Cake.” Others, such as former President Jimmy Carter, urged forgiveness saying, "I think she has been punished, perhaps overly severely, for her honesty in admitting it and for the use of the word in the distant past. She's apologized profusely.”

Since use of “Nebraskan” does not necessarily constitute bigotry or prejudice and in the absence of any corroborating evidence (Casual Klan Fridays, Segregated Gravy Boats, etc) I am inclined to give “Chompers” Deen the benefit of the doubt. If she simply made some missteps in the past and has since run her empire with equality and fairness as cornerstones then I am inclined to agree with Jimmy Carter. If she presiding over an infrastructure that discriminated against employees based on the color of their skin (with or without using “Nebraskan”) then she probably deserves the litigious wrath in store for her. The point is that most of us are making a snap judgment based on a past misstep. Ethnic slurs are only effective in unmasking bigotry when they are viewed as a symptom instead of the ailment.

On the other hand, corporate America has no obligation to stand by someone they see as a liability. Whether or not she deserves the negative backlash is largely irrelevant in the context of an endorsement deal. The same notoriety she has wielded so successfully to generate this endorsement revenue brings with it increased public scrutiny unfamiliar to the everyday citizen. Of course, the everyday citizen isn’t compensated millions of dollars for recommending processed pork either. Welcome to the frightening world of at-will employment Paula.  

The real irony is being dropped by both Wal-Mart and K-Mart so that they can avoid any “negative publicity.” These are the same two companies that stood by Martha Stuart after her 2004 federal conviction for insider trading. Is it fair that a convicted felon is seen as less of a marketing liability than an alleged bigot? Not really. Is it American? Absolutely.   

I do always feel bad for the celebrity’s agent in cases like this because firing them has become obligatory since it gives the impression of a fresh start. As if this same person had been advising her in the 60’s and suggested she use as many racial slurs as possible in case she ever became the figurehead of a culinary empire and found herself on the business end of a deposition. It would appear that Paula’s first order of business after being fired to protect someone’s reputation was to fire someone else to protect hers.      

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Jerusalem Donkey Legend

While visiting a local news site, I was confronted by a large advertisement for something called “The Jerusalem Donkey Legend.” Always eager to hear a good burro-themed folktale involving the Holy Land, I followed the link and found myself at the official website. The homepage features what appears to be a slideshow of senior portraits and among the nine photos there is only one that includes an actual donkey. The text of the page offers only the most cryptic description:

The legend tells us that the donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday also followed him to Calvary, for the donkey loved the Lord. Appalled by the sight of Jesus on the cross, the donkey turned away but could not leave. The shadow of the cross fell upon his shoulders and back, forever marking him and all of his descendants. THE JERUSALEM DONKEY LEGEND is the first book in the Achsah Legacy ... a series about an ancient family whose Biblical roots date back to Caleb, one of the spies sent into Canaan by Moses.

I was able to ascertain from a link at the bottom of the page that the banner and site are advertising a novel by Anne Churchill. Eager to find out more I clicked “Synopsis” at the top of the page and was presented with the option of viewing a video entitled The Jerusalem Donkey Legend-Christmas Video. While I assuming this would be the author explaining their creative process in front of a holiday backdrop, I was instead treated to 60 seconds of equestrian-themed imagery accompanied only by an instrumental. What follows are screenshots of the video, unaltered and chronologically presented as they appear:
As you can see, the first few frames feature a young woman accompanied by a donkey. Given her attire, the barren landscape, and the video’s reference to Christmas I assume she represents Mary, the mother of Jesus.
A few frames later a blonde women is shown with a horse. While still a rural setting, she appears to be residing in the modern era (as evidenced by the modern fencing in the background).
The next frame features two young men standing on a sidewalk as they pet Mary’s donkey from the video’s opening scene. We are left with the impression that said donkey has traversed the space/time continuum and wandered into an upper-middle class suburban neighborhood 2,000 years after the time of Christ. 

Now we see Mary, the blonde, and three other youth sitting on a wooden box in a field. Mary has traded her demure cloak for cutoff shorts and cowboy boots to further assimilate to her new surroundings. The donkey may or may not be trapped in the box.
Now we see a man with a black hat and dark sunglasses peering over a fence. We are led to believe he is staring at the comely youth and both his dress and demeanor suggests nefarious intent. This is his only appearance in the video so he was likely picked up a short time later on an outstanding warrant.
A few frames later we see a young man from the party who has become separated from his shirt. His face (like mine) displays both astonishment and confusion.
A few frames later, we see Mary flirting with a different young man at what appears to be a burro car-wash. They seem blissfully unaware of the mystery man’s surveillance or their friend’s wardrobe malfunction.
Inexplicably, we are now presented with a pair of photos documenting what appears to be a SWAT team preparing for a raid on a cabin.

The next photo indicates that Mary has been taken hostage by party or parties unknown and its juxtaposition with the SWAT team pictures leads me to believe that they are attempting to rescue her. The red bandana she is gagged with might be an indication that the West Coast Bloods were involved in her abduction.
We are now presented with another shirtless young man who is sporting a slingshot and a head-wound. While we cannot confirm what he is aiming at, it seems safe to assume he is antagonizing the SWAT team with pebbles. Tellingly, he does not re-appear in the video.
 Having presumably just been freed from bondage, Mary now appears to have traveled back in time and is being held prisoner by the Third Reich. This may be the worst Christmas ever.

Not to worry though, Mary has returned to the present and been reunited with her cut-off shorts and donkey. She appears no worse for the wear.

Not having read the novel, I cannot comment on its content or literary merit, but the synopsis video is a doozy. While some might point to the historical incongruity as a sticking point, I thought the most intriguing aspect to the story was the idea that a donkey was capable of being “appalled.”  You take a real risk as a writer when you assign feelings of human disgust to a mule. I was also disappointed at the absence of Joseph. As a husband and father, I can tell you that I would be none too pleased to find the mother of my children gallivanting around in daisy dukes and flirting with every muscle-tank shirt with a social security number.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Taco Night

A few weeks ago my wife and I were eating with family at a local Mexican food chain. These particular eateries permeate the southeast and have several characteristics in common:

  •  Must have a nonsensical name (usually referring to an inanimate object) that is only acceptable because it is in Spanish. (Las Escobas / Los Frascos / El Urinario etc…) 
  • Must serve complimentary salsa with marginally stale tortilla chips, but will always charge for white cheese dip. 
  • Establishment must serve at least 15 “combination” entrees designated only by numbers.
  • Food must be served on superheated tableware capable of permanent epidermal damage. 
  • Interior walls must be adorned by at least one oil painting of a shirtless Aztec male. Said painting may or may not contain deer.
In this particular instance we had finished our meals and were in the process of saying our goodbyes directly outside the front door. It was at this time that I noticed a hand-written sign that read as follows:
Taco Night Has Been Moved to Thursday until Further Notice

I remarked that since this was Wednesday I was surprised that a large mob hadn’t formed outside the doors demanding whatever special treatment normally afforded to them on taco night. Despite the fact that every member of our party had eaten at this restaurant on several occasions, none of us could recall hearing anything about “Taco Night.” I could only assume that one evening a week, the restaurant dropped the price of their cheapest delicacy an unprecedented amount.

My wife and I had walked to our car and were pulling away when we got a call from my sister-in-law who wanted to inform us that after we left a man had walked to the front door, read the sign, and immediately walked away in disgust. She laughed and said she figured that I would want to know.

I immediately began pondering how this rudimentary sign had changed the course of this gentleman’s entire evening. Here he has been working all day, undoubtedly comforted by the knowledge that it was Taco Night, only to show up and have the rug pulled out from under him. That might have been the final straw. He could have been driving there muttering, “Although everyone else in this cruel world has turned against me, I can find solace in Wednesday Taco Night!” Even more shocking was that after having traveled all the way there he was so crestfallen than he couldn’t bring himself to go inside. If I cared about Taco Night that much, you can bet I would at least attempt to bargain with the manager instead of sitting at home bitterly consuming a cheeseburger.

I almost watched the news to see if that same gentleman had begun a multi-state crime spree complete with requisite footage of his neighbor telling the local reporters, “He always kept to himself and acted friendly. In fact Wednesday was his favorite day of the week because it was Taco Night! I cannot imagine what would have incited such violence…”

I mean, how good was the deal on “Taco Night” that paying menu price of 94 cents was unfathomable? I spent the next day wondering if the patron had returned the following evening or if the betrayal had been so damaging that he couldn’t bring himself to come back.

On the flip side, what would be the advantage of the restaurant moving Taco Night in the first place? Was there a logistical problem that required four full weekdays of prep time instead of three? Was there an incident the week before that caused the manager to throw up his hands in frustration and announce that it would be a cold day in Hell before he discounted tacos on a Wednesday again? It did seem a little irresponsible to toy with the public’s emotions by even suggesting that the move might now be permanent. Just move it to Thursday night and then end it so we can begin the healing process.

Of course, there is always the possibility that “Taco Night” is simply code for a narcotics transaction and they had to alter the drop day due to Federal surveillance. This would explain why even frequent customers were unaware of the promotion and why this gentleman was so deeply affected by the information. Either way, I believe an investigation is in order.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Christian Domestic Discipline

A friend recently made me aware of a new trend in Protestantism call “Christian Domestic Discipline” or CDD on the streets. While CDD is a multifaceted approach, the Christian Domestic Discipline website defines it as follows:

“A Domestic Discipline (DD) marriage is one in which one partner is given authority over the other, and has the means to back up that authority, usually by spanking. Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) marriage is simply a traditional, male-led, Christian marriage which utilises [sic] aspects of Domestic Discipline. It is set up according to Biblical standards. Therefore, in a CDD marriage: The husband is the head of the household, whilst the wife is submissive to her husband as if the Lord Himself was her husband. See Eph. 5:22-24. In CDD, the husband has authority to discipline the wife. The wife does not have authority to discipline her husband. See Gen. 3:16

Always eager to employ Biblical principles, I followed the “Husbands” link and under the header “How to Discipline your Wife” and I was given the following insider information on when to deploy punishment up to and including spanking. The website explains why the missus will likely require some derriere maintenance:

“1. Women by their peculiar sin nature resist earthly authority and trust.”

“2. Women will seek earthly security at the expense of emotional and/or spiritual security.”
Having thoroughly unmasked all women as being divinely pre-disposed to rebellious gold-digging, the section further details the type of transgressions meriting domestic corporal punishment. It is advised that women should “let thy words be few” and their “dress be modest.”  Other practitioners cite more topical missteps such as texting while driving, moving money between accounts or rolling their eyes when the HoH (head of household) is speaking.

So what should a self-respecting HoH do when his better half returns home from the store with a halter-top and the misconception that her opinion has merit? I quote the site at length because paraphrasing wouldn’t do it justice:

When administering physical discipline, take caution not to deliver the lashes anywhere but the buttocks. The first attempt at this punishment should only be delivered by hand so you can get an idea of how many lashings are needed. The best position will be for you to sit at the end of a bed or on a chair (with no arms) and have her lay across your lap. She can also bend over a bed with arms tucked under her chest and your left hand on the small of her back. If a strap (belt) is to be implemented watch that each stoke falls directly on the buttocks and not higher.

A fearful wife may begin crying or pleading and find it difficult to remain still. Reassure her of your intent and love (yes this will hurt, that is why it is a punishment) then instruct her to be still. Remind her that she is not in control of this discipline. You should continue the lashing through her tears and pleas for you to stop, until you are certain the message was received. This will insure her remorse and therefore stop the undesirable behavior.

A sound lashing is five to ten strokes with your hand, or three to five strokes with a strap; some wives need more. To avoid brusing [sic] do not strike the same area in repetition.

Gauge your decision to proceed based on your wife's readiness to repent.
You may find it difficult to cause your wife pain, but as a woman she needs the release of guilt that this form of punishment brings. Afterwards, help her up gently and hold her while allowing her to cry for as long as you both feel necessary. If you have children instruct her to wash her face before emerging from the room.

Her reaction after the lashing will let you know if this punishment works for her. She should be genuinely remorseful, tearful, and sore, but have an overwhelming desire to please you.

Do not make apologies for the punishment as this will cast doubt in her mind of your authority. The amount of rebuke and lash sessions may be high at first but should slowly decrease as she learns her new role in the relationship, and you embrace yours. The gift you give your wife in this act will lead to her soul's full surrender allowing her to embrace her femininity.

Where to begin? I can’t speak for everyone’s marriage, but if I was required to spank the wife every time she rolled her eyes at something I said I would’ve sustained a debilitating rotator cuff injury nine years ago. I particularly enjoyed the section meant to reassure those hesitant to beat their wives like a rented piƱata that such action is necessary because “she needs the release of guilt that this form of punishment brings.” Apparently Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient to assuage sinful guilt in the male populace, but if you are in the unfortunate position of sporting a vagina it is necessary to supplement with a rubber hose or area-wide phone book.

I thought it was sweet that the husband was to “instruct” the wife to wipe her face before emerging from the “50 Shades of Jesus” chamber so as not to traumatize the offspring. The implication is that while the children would be unaffected by their mother’s audible pleas for mercy, the sight of a tear on her face could have a negative psychological impact. 

It should be noted that CDD is simply an offshoot of Domestic Discipline. The philosophy is essentially the same except the former designated the HoH as male and throws in a few references to Ephesians for good measure while the latter could presumably be implemented by a couple of any orientation or marital status. Both insist that the practice is non-sexual (despite what Google returns if you search for “DD spanking”) and that it has nothing in common with carnal fetishes employing the same techniques.

To be honest, I am not sure why anyone who accepts this document’s view of women would ever want to spend the rest of their life with one. According to the supplied documentation they are prodigiously insubordinate, mentally deficient, and rely on physically punishment to embrace their own potential. Even their inherent femininity requires a backhanded jumpstart. In fact, I would argue it’s downright unfair to burden such important men with female companionship at all. That way they can avoid the humiliation of being subjected to an eye-roll every time they say something stupid which, from everything I have read, would be incessant.