Bad Words Vs. Bad People: The Forgiveness Double Standard

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Bad Words Vs. Bad People: The Forgiveness Double Standard

By Courtney Enlow | Think Pieces | July 2, 2013 | Comments ()


Paula Deen used the n-word a whole bunch and it's cost her an empire.

I hear that and I think, good. You can't use that word. You can't do that to people. It's not OK. Send the message that it's not okay. I agree with Dustin that Deen exhibits a common and toxic kind of ignorance that, while seemingly benign, isn't. And it has profoundly affected my opinion of her and her image.

Elvis Costello called Ray Charles and James Brown the n-word, referring to them respectively as a "blind, ignorant n****r" and a "jive-ass n****r."

And I still like Elvis Costello. It has not at any point affected my opinion of him.

I consider this as people make comparisons between Deen's saga and the recent latest Alec Baldwin outburst, where he referred to a reporter as a "toxic little queen." Deen's career is over (at least, for now) whereas, with Baldwin, this is just another Tuesday.

There is clearly a number of differences between the two situations, not limited to the choice of word. Baldwin's was a random outburst; Deen's was an entire lifestyle, a way of managing a business, and, now her entire image, which is her business has been impacted to a catastrophic degree.

Again, this is fine. When a person becomes a brand, when that person's image is their entire business, it is just the same as when you or I mess up at work--you lose your job. Deen is not a victim of censorship, a martyr to politically correct lib'rul eleetists. She fucked up, so they fired her from her various jobs.

What confuses me is, why doesn't this happen for everyone?

Because, like Costello, I don't think any differently of Baldwin now, either. I barely think of the infamous voicemail where he referred to his own flesh and blood as a "rude thoughtless little pig." Being a dick is just part of his whole persona, so that stuff seems almost okay, eliciting little more than an "Oh Alec" and a hair ruffle.

Is it favoritism? Picking and choosing who we like and revising the standards for human decency from person to person? Is it a level of severity? Is there a line, and, when a public figure crosses it, there is no going back?

Then how does one explain Charlie Sheen? Or Chris Brown, for that matter? Sure, in most sane circles, he's done for, but not for his fans and not for the music industry. There are those whose opinions of Brown never wavered, yet I now think ill of Mary J. Blige because she seems to be fine with him. I think something must be wrong with Jodie Foster because she's friends with Mel Gibson. But I don't do that with everyone.

I guess it's easier to give up on someone about whom you never had a strong opinion. Or, someone who was supposed to be nice and turned out not nice. Sheen shoots women, hits hookers and is generally terrible and evil, and he will be famous and make money for a million years, because he's the crack Highlander and he will never die. He says that word, he's recorded calling Denise Richards that word. He also makes the workplace a generally unbearable place for all involved.

Does Paula Deen deserve everything that's happened? Absolutely. Do others probably deserve it, too? Possibly. I don't know. I still like Elvis Costello.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • M Bolivar

    There is no rational reason Elvis Costello shouldn't be shunned, and Charlie Sheen is the greatest argument against Karma, ever. I wonder if the reason is that they are men?

    Just as a woman who is assertive = bitch, I wonder if we are programmed to cut men more slack. Alec Baldwin is well groomed, talented. He has never bothered to court us with "niceness." Like Charlie Sheen, he is mostly unapologetic for any bad behaviour - it's cockeyed, but there is something powerful about someone who owns their choices, who doesn't employ a barrage of publicists or lawyers to spin mock apologies. Without contrition, Sheen mounted a victory tour to celebrate his insanity. I think race also plays a role: what Tracy Morgan said was more vile, but Alec Baldwins comments are variations on the theme. Homophobia is homophobia, no matter how "mildly" expressed; why should Alec get a pass? And what about Jeremy Irons? Someone commented on his gay marriage blather how controversy can magically be avoided by sandwiching offensive
    comments between “I don’t really have an opinion” and ” but really,
    ‘___’ is wonderful!”
    [off point: how can someone who seems so brilliant in film be so stupid in real life? as Einstein said, "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." No need to stick around for pillow talk, Jeremy - there's cab fare on the night stand.]

    I think Paula Deens problem, beyond the racism, is that she keeps attempting to deflect blame onto everyone else even, most insultingly, the workers she discriminated against. Also, when you try to sell yourself as "nice," you do not allow for any behavioural wiggle room - ask Reese Witherspoon.

    There is definitely a double standard: Woody Allen is still going strong, Roman Polanski is protected and admired, Charlie Sheen is making millions. I try to separate the artist from their output, if only to keep my sanity.

  • jason malinoski

    If there is something more to our existence after we die, then that could be an argument to hold onto the idea of Karma. Perhaps his unchecked debauchery just makes his post-life comeuppance more dramatic. You never know.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    To anyone wondering:

    If you search out something to the effect of, 'Paula Deen full deposition transcript', you'll be presented with a bevy of sites that have posted it in full (honestly, I didn't read the whole thing because it's about 150 pages long). A lot of sites also have commentary breaking down the illegality of her and her brother's practices and some sites offer up journalistic commentary. Some will also cover the basics of how a civil lawsuit is filed and some of them muse on the utter failure of her PR team to effectively corral her behaviour in the aftermath of this implosion.

    There are some sites that aren't exactly long for the peer review committee floating around but that's not a strike against them because they are effective in showcasing the highlights of the deposition and manage to point out instances of the inconsistencies in her relation of events and her attitudes towards the charges, both within the deposition itself and in comparison to her shame tour sound bites. To anyone interested in hearing the details of one of the more egregious examples of her despicable practices, read on.

    I'd say the easiest example of her double talk to tackle would be in reference of her use of the n-word. Initially, it was something she had said once after the robbery, then when asked in the depo if she had used the word before, her response was 'Of course!' Yup. Then fast-forward to one of her television appearances wherein she's asked if she had used the word at work in the presence of, or in reference to her black employees.

    She tried to wiggle her ducts around, furrowing her brown in a vain attempt to crocodile out some ocular secretions when she revealed that she had heard the black boys who work with her throw it around to each other (I have some trouble believing that because they don't have any more right than does she to use that kind of language in a professional and public setting) and she tells us that she was either distressed or dismayed (one of them) to hear them use this language. This, she says, made her wonder in all of her discomfort if this was a word whose harmful impact had passed its expiration date and if that meant that she was free to use it. She frames it as a way that presents her repeated use of the word as a kind of noble act of self-mortification made in pursuit of reaching out and touching someone's hand--for peace, EVEN--even though there was a tempest of unease clashing about in her social more system.

    So, she's a martyr and it the black boys' fault that she said it because it confused her. So this 66-year-old dame who was 18 in 1965 is trying to tell us that she didn't know if it was offensive or not and that assumed that if that can do it she can too. Well, I can menstruate and my nephew can't, so what's her point with this? It didn't occur to her to talk to them about it? It would've been awkward as hell, but since it's her business and her reputation on the line to just say, 'Hey, I know it's a sensitive issue and I know my even broaching the subject might be uncomfortable but there's a universal code of conduct I have to follow in the workplace and I'm bound by law to follow it'? Nope, because again, I doubt this was happening.

    Notice how she couches her use--it was a long time ago, or it wasn't in a professional setting, therefore no laws are being broken and perhaps she had a bad, bad moment and said the wrong thing in regards to a traumatic event. It's only when backed into a corner that gives a little bit of the game away, still trying to stay just this side of legal. And it worked, because people are focusing on that one time. She reveals that he has a romanticized notion of the Antebellum period and waxes on how she would see Temple and Robinson dancing around and the way that he was dressed and was subservient delighted her. She modeled the uniform at one of her restaurants after that noble servant trope and wanted to dress her staff as slaves. This makes her a dick-slap of the highest order, but not illegal. It wasn't until she was pressed by the complaint of a former employee who was subjected to that junk at one of her personal events that she finally admitted that yes, they were forced to work to work these events, lest they get fired, and that Deen and her brother sprung the info on the employees that rather than get overtime, they were getting beer. Thanks for the magic brew, mistress. You treat me so kind! The fellow who lodged the complaint was fired and he says he doesn't even drink. It gets a little more illegal every time she has to give up some ghost. Delightful.

    But this is the woman who broke down in actual tears on one of those genealogy programs about how her whatever generation ancestor was so distraught when the Emancipation Proclamation went through because he missed his 'workers' and they were 'like family', so, boo-hoo, he put a bullet in his brain. This guy had 35 slaves--do you want to exhume him, reanimate his corpse and shoot him all over again? I do. 'Workers', fucking hell.


    And I haven't even mentioned Bubba pleasuring himself when female employees were in close quarters with him.


    If you're defending her, you're defending this. I feel some need to get out the details because it goes so far beyond what has been reported everywhere. It's presented as 'Oh, boo-hoo, black victim mentality wants to make a mountain out of a mole hill and blame the white man for all of their problems. Get over it'. This is simply untrue.

    -If you have a problem with sexual harassment in the workplace
    -If you have a problem with people being robbed of their earned money
    -If you have a problem with the glass ceiling
    -If you have a problem with unequal pay for equal work
    -If you have a problem with segregation in the workplace
    -If you have a problem with a 'back of the bus' treatment of the dark-skinned
    -If you have a problem with bosses knowingly breaking the law for years

    -If you have a problem with the dismissal of justified whistleblowers
    -If you have a problem with racial epithets being tossed like dawn darts
    -If you have a problem with a boss ignoring outside demand for improvement
    -If you have a problem with embezzlement, 'cause we've got that, too
    -If you have a problem with a boss making her racism your fault
    -If you have a problem with someone thinking you're too dumb to spot the lies

    -If you have a problem with pleading 'ignorance' when she knew better...

    ...and yet won't even apologize...

    ...then, ladies and gentlemen, you have a problem with Paula Deen. She's not persecuted, she's just cruel.

  • black_bandit

    She also said something antisemitic and maybe that is why her empire crumbled.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    It's a rich tapestry of awful tapestries.

  • googergieger

    Meh, most people are hypocrites. Nothing really new there. Sometimes it isn't even that. Sometimes people just don't know why they think or feel a certain way. Like can't put it into words or even thoughts. I don't know, as far as I know I have no double standards. If I think one person is a c__ for saying/doing something, chances are I think everyone that does that is also a c___.

  • jason malinoski

    I don't believe that black people are second class citizens, so there's that.

  • John G.

    Maybe if Paula Deen had played Jack Donaughy, people would forgive her more.

  • John G.

    Baldwin seems to like the word "little" in his insults. Whether it's "rude thoughtless little pig" or "toxic little queen", he seems to have a disdain for people being "little". Is that cause he's so fat?

  • ,

    "it is just the same as when you or I mess up at work—you lose your job"

    Wrong. When you or I fuck up and lose a job, it affects you and me, and our immediate families. When Paula Deen loses a job, dozens, maybe hundreds of people who work for her and probably did nothing wrong go down too, so that we can all get on our collective high horses and smack Paula Deen in the nose and feel self-righteous. Lots of people who probably don't have the financial resources to fall back on that Paula, if she was smart, does. What did they do wrong?

    I'm not excusing Paula Deen. Is she still a bigot? I don't know. I can't see in her heart. Does she deserve to be punished in some way? Possibly. Probably.

    But we used to have the stocks for that. Hold her up to public ridicule somehow. But tearing down her business and pulling the rug out from under a whole lot of people who aren't Paula Deen? What's the point of that?

    There ought to be some middle ground somewhere, is what I'm saying, somewhere between blowing off Alec Baldwin's latest idiocy as "Alec being Alec" and ruining the lives of dozens or hundreds of people and families to make a social point (since neither Deen nor Baldwin has committed a crime, unlike, say, Martha Stewart).

    I don't know what that middle ground is, though.

  • Some Guy

    The only crime Martha Stewart committed was perjury in regards to deposition she gave for charges against her that were later dropped. She's hardly a criminal.

  • jason malinoski

    She went to jail. She's an ex-con. Is that accurate enough for you, or is there some reason she isn't that, either?

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    While I see your position, Deen is 100% the achitecht of her own demise because she did break laws in the management of her restaurants had more that ample time to get her practices up to code when numerous people filed complaints and she was explicitly told what exactly she had to do to fix things. Yes, I feel bad for the employees but she didn't. None of this had to happen, she was warned more than once over the course of at least five years to clean up the sexual harrassment, but Bubba had to trap female employees in a room with him so he'd have a workplace porn buddy. She was warned about having separate bathrooms for blacks and whites, but she didn't care. She was told that you can't take people's bonuses away because they got divorced and that's wrong (even though she's been divorced), but...and that you can't pay men more than you pay women and you can't pay black people less than you pay whites, that you can't hurl around racial epithets at work, that it's bad policy to block women from advancing because that right only afforded to men, that you can't fire people for not working overtime for free for your personal goes on. So every pang of pity that you feel are a direct result of what she did to put them into that position. It didn't have go this way, but she forced it.

  • Ash

    If that's true, that is awful. Where did you get your information?

  • logan

    I knew Baldwin would get a pass here as soon as it happened. He's a Pajiba fave, its that simple.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    But he didn't really get a pass - when it was posted the other day in Pajiba Love people were excoriating him in the comments, as they are here, and even the author admits that she's uncomfortable with her instinctive reaction to shrug it off.

  • logan

    "uncomfortable with her instinctive reaction to shrug it off"

    Yes. That is certainly a stinging condemnation. I stand corrected.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    If you want to miss my larger point, you certainly can (and apparently did.) The author is one person writing at this site. Another editor - and lots of commenters - expressed a very different viewpoint. The above author's piece is tackling the very thing that you posted about - hey, he's a favorite to me, so I'm inclined to shrug off his bad behavior, why is that? She's challenging her own viewpoint.

    But whatever. Bring on the sparklers!

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    That's a good point, too.

  • F'mal DeHyde


  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    I think you're onto something. Heaven only knows what this site would've like had Joss Wheadon, Robert Downey Jr. or Parks and Recreation said these things


  • Aaron Schulz

    Adam Carollas most recent podcast mentions this thing with baldwin, and he asserts that a big part of the reason is that baldwin is awesome, like professionally, that hes a great performer and doesnt need to work again, where as deen knows how to cook with butter. So he gets a pardon, GLAAD isnt making a stink about him because hes one of the "good guys", had alot of other people said this, wouldve been much worse.

    This can be argued up and down forever but thats really what it comes down to. We like people that make us laugh/cry whatever, that furthers our cause in someway, if they dont, fuck em, throw em to the wolves and we can then pretend like we have moral outrage over something. I am pretty sure its just all self righteousness that people need to feel better so they pick and choose who they hate.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    So, there's no such thing as personal conviction, just reflex and ennui? Damn, I thought I was cynical.

  • ,

    Rest assured you are.

    I always liked that about you.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    I keep telling the doctors that I'm too real, but they don't accept it.

  • Chucktastic

    "Elvis Costello called Ray Charles and James Brown the n-word,
    referring to them respectively as a “blind, ignorant n****r” and a
    “jive-ass n****r.”
    And I still like Elvis Costello. It has not at any point affected my opinion of him."

    I remember years ago, when I first read this, I was horrified. As a black man, it offended me greatly and I've never listened to a single song of his or Diana Krall's (his wife) since. I understand you like his music, but how does it not color your opinion of him at all, in any manner?

    We're all aware of Woody Allen's depravity, and I still think he is a fine filmmaker, but I'm also quite sure he's a fairly disturbed human being. Even though Michael Jackson was acquitted of child molestation charges, his music now gives me the creeps. The list goes on and on.

    Deen was exposed as an unrepentant, habitual racist. Baldwin has severe anger issues and says cruel, mean-spirited things when his anger rises. The difference between them is that Baldwin, who is most likely a misogynistic homophobe, has enough social awareness to understand how the game is played in America. You can say and do horrible things, even repeatedly, but when the public turns on you and the cameras are in your face, listen to your publicist, act humble and always, always ask for forgiveness.

  • Ash

    Glad to know I"m not the only one creeped out by Michael Jackson's songs. Honestly, I feel guilty when I find myself enjoying his music. I had a friend tell me that he's dead now, he can't hurt anyone anymore, but I still can't get over it.

  • jason malinoski

    "I'm bad!" Yes, yes you were.

  • Ash

    The double standard is not OK. Yes, Deen was wrong, but there are SO many others who have been just as bad or worse. Chris Brown, Roman Polanski, countless professional athletes, and I'm gonna say it, Michael Jackson have gotten away with far too much. As a woman, it depresses me. Men can abuse and hurt women and children and continue to be successful, but a woman who inappropriately uses a certain word and apologizes for it is treated like she's the new Hitler. No, she wasn't right, but I think her sin was more of ignorance than maliciousness. The men listed above committed their sins willfully and maliciously.

    Another thing that is whack? A man charged with human trafficking gets like 15 years in jail, but Madoff gets 200+ or whatever? I fear for children growing up in a world where money is more valued than the safety and wellbeing of women and children. Moral of the story - if you have the right appendage, you can get away with anything.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    We're going to have to part ways--oh, she's ignorant as hell, but I don't think we're defining 'ignorant' the same way.

  • NickOLess

    I don't think it's outrage over her racism that has people so riled up. It's more that deep down, no one likes to feel tricked.

    Paula Deen fooled everyone into thinking that she's their favorite downhome, folksy grandma. Alec Baldwin, Elvis Costello, Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen -- no one's ever expected these people to be sweet and warm-hearted and loving. I think it's that sense of betrayal that's got everyone so jazzed up.

    That and the fact that the only thing we like more than a hero is tearing one down.

  • Joseph Howe

    I disagree, Baldwin is a bad person with a history of these remarks and unhinged outbursts. Deen used a word decades ago. It is apparent that a liberal is given a pass while someone more traditional is crucified.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    See, I don't understand why people keep saying this. It doesn't really make sense.

    Everything pertaining to this lawsuit occured between 2005 and 2010, The '80s belong to WHAM!, that decade is of no consequence in this misadventure.

    The incident with the slur--the one thing onto which her supporters are pinning all of their outrage, the one for which they say she is being punished, the single thing one thing over which they feel she is being victimized, this focal point, this one argument--the only argument that I've heard, the thing that so many people think she's being sued--is the only part of the story that has nothing to do with this case. She is not being sued for something she said 'once' (though I highly doubt that that is actually true but isn't germane to this argument), she is being sued because she permitted, encouraged and participated in creating and maintaining a hostile work environment.

    Political affiliation has nothing to do with it, but not for nothing, Deen is a Democrat and voted for your current presdident twice. Not for nothing, she is on record for called the president her 'little 'word that she only used once in the '80s''. This means that as a matter of fact, she has used it more than once. We come to that conclusion not because of inferrence (although it would lead to same end) but because Deen admits it. So, I'm not sure why people insist upon the '30 years ago' because Deen herself could refute that.

    But still, we are not yet at the crux of the legal matter--and there is one because the court isn't going to allow someone to file a civil suit over something that happened *once*, decades ago, and decades before the plaintiff had ever even met Deen, let alone be a target for any attacks. There has to be more.

    And in regards her crumbling empire, this woman made a lot of people a lot of money, right? Companies are going to follow the money, they don't care about what's 'right', they care about chasing the cash. One has to wonder, why would so many people want to cut ties with their cash cow? Companies are not interested in allegations and rumour, companies are going to bow down to their little revenue creator for as long as she's is verifiably profitable. It is not a decision blithely made to cut off such a lucrative relationship, they have to be given real cause to do something that dramatic. Deen gave them a multi million-dollar reason in the form of proven discriminatory, hostile and hugely illegal practices.

    She has openly admitted that she pays women less than men and pays blacks less than whites. She has openly admitted that she and her brother prevent women from being promoted past a certain level because A) her brother does not believe that women should not hold any kind of power over a man in the workplace. She has admitted to only hiring blacks with light skin to work up front in view of restaurant patrons and forcing those with darker skin to the back and out of sight. She has admitted to making blacks and white use separate bathrooms, allowing her brother to call black employees 'monkeys' and, yes, throwing around the n-word at work with impugnity. That's not her fault, though, it was hip-hoppers confusing her. She has admitted that she allows her brother to sexually harrass female employees, going so far as to watch pornography in their presence. She has admitted to forcing her black staff to work overtime at her personal events under the aegis of, you know, paying them, only to pull a bait and switch and pay them in beer. Yes, people went over her head for that and for their efforts they got fired. And that is to say nothing of her antebellum fetishization--something she purposely kept hidden because she knew there would be backlash from 'the media'.

    And she well and knew that what she was doing was not only tasteless, but illegal. How? Because she had many advisors on numerous occasions tell her this and tell her what changes she would have to implement to create a fair and respectable/respectful work environment. She didn't do it. She had years and multiple warnings and had more than one person contact legal services concerning her actions. Oh, and she called her accountant her 'Jew Girl', too. Classy.

    Now, it's beyond evident that neither she, nor her upright globule of a brother fancy themselves as too important for the rule of law, so instead of just settling, her arrogance and low manner are displayed for all to see. Now, maybe to a lot of people her refusal to apologize for her dreadful treatment of the dignity and well-being of her staff just doesn't matter, but we must realize that in that same breath she is refusing to apologize for flagrantly and chronically breaking the law. And she did break the law. For years And this plaintiff is FAR from the first person who has attempted to bring her to book. She's just the first white person to do it, so finally justice has heard the call. And in light of the details of this lawsuit, that just makes me want to put my head down.

    Why support someone who has respect for the laws of your land?


    But yes, Alec Baldwin is about as pleasant as the never-healed perineum wound that Samuel Pepys enjoyed for the entirety of his life following her gall stone operation. He has to cut it the fuck out with this trash mouth and attitude.

  • fred

    Can you provide a source for your records on Deen? I've been looking but haven't been able to find any of the complaints you've been levying that go beyond what's involved in the trial.

  • ,

    Well, that's different.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I haven't really been paying attention to the Paula Deen saga but my already low opinion of Baldwin has taken a nose dive. I enjoy his acting but he's a vile human being.

  • Clancys_Daddy

    "What confuses me is, why doesn’t this happen for everyone?" The answer is people are hypocrites.

  • John

    Paula Deen is old, Southern, and cooks greasy, overly-sweet food. It's hard to imagine anyone more unsympathetic to the Pajiba crowd. Humans judge those they like and find attractive much less harshly than those they don't. No doubt the readers of Southern Life judge Deen and Baldwin inversely to how Pajibans judge them. Hypocrisy is part of being human. We can fight it, but we can't escape it.

  • Mel C.

    I'm not defending Deen's use of the n-word, but you talk as if every single allegation levied against her is true. "Deen’s was an entire lifestyle, a way of managing a business"... we don't know that. She's been accused of it, but I lived in Savannah for a long time (and worked in news) and never heard a single bad thing from anyone about her. Maybe they were scared to speak out. I have no idea. But you've already tried and convicted her based on one disgruntled employee's account. Even Al Sharpton thinks everyone should chill the F out, and when he's saying that, you know it's serious.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    You can read her deposition. It's fucking long, but it's available to all, and it is her words.

  • BrassCupcake

    I read her deposition. She is horrible, but over half of what is being attributed to her in these comments is not there. I read all of the 140+ page document and most of this isn't there. There is nothing about separate bathrooms. There is nothing about believing a woman shouldn't have authority over a man. And if anything she just comes across as an idiot for letting her deadbeat brother run a restaurant (horribly).

  • Orleanas

    I agree with you BrassCupcake. I read that whole deposition and throughout the 149 page document, the majority of what I read was Deen's denial of the accusations brought against her brother. I found her supposed lack of knowledge about her businesses and her employees' complaints to be more horrifying on a business level than anything.

    In the end, though I am "a person of color," I was rather surprised that Deen is facing this level of negative response for her minimally coherent responses to the questions asked of her. I finished reading that deposition concluding that she let her love, loyalty and possible guilt towards her brother color her business judgment to the point that she's sacrificing all that she has worked hard for.

    My sense is that she is not racist, per se, but that she is really a product of her time and environment: the racist, pre Civil Rights south. This doesn't make her actions inexcusable; it's just fact.

  • I think this rabbit hole has gone too deep.

    *climbing out*

  • The Pink Hulk

    I'll tell you what the difference is: Paula Deen doesn't have a fancy New York accent. She's from the South, and every self-righteous Yankee I know has taken fucking GLEE in watching her downfall, gloating, saying to themselves, "See? I knew they were all bigots."

    And for the record, she didn't admit to saying the n-word a "bunch of times." She admitted to saying it once, thirty years ago.

  • jason malinoski

    It's really a lot more than any one word she said. Perhaps you should actually look into it.

  • Alberto Cox Délano

    I was thinking about Miles Davis. Miles Davis was, well, a wife-beater as well. I hate and I want to see Chris Brown erradicated from the music industry, while I believe Miles' a fucking genius whose music should be preserved in titanium discs (do those exist?) so after we're gone, the evolved octopi can listen to his music. Is talent what makes the difference here, between who we hate and who we are able to at least keep around at least just for their output? Maybe, all things considered, this is what raw subjectivity is all about. Leave level-headedness for squares.

  • Idle Primate

    It must be awesome to be holy and untouchable. Let us keep pattting ourselves on how we judge each strangers each action. It's so very satisfying. Its even better when we can add conversions that can that turn classicism into racism or even better roll up racism and homophobia into the war on women. No criticism is at its height until it has caught the attention of feminism.

    Celebrities are as stupid and shitty as regular folk. But they provide better fuel.

  • Of course they do. It's part of the social contract that if you are famous, we are all watching you. Otherwise, you wouldn't be famous. So if you do stupid shit where people can see/hear you, we are going to notice and call you on it. And we should call them on it. All of them. Every time.

    Now, I happen to call out anyone who says/does that in my daily life, but that is part of my actual job. I can't not hear it. I can't find it funny or acceptable, and I won't let it go. You know, like people trying to downplay sexism by objecting to the way it informs our cultural opinions. So kindly do not spread your blanket of contempt over the attempts to have this sort of difficult conversation. Even having the conversation is a step forward. Several steps down the road, we may flinch at the way we approached it. This is called learning. I'd rather hash it out and figure out where things intersect and why we think/feel/act the way we do than to accept what is currently the status quo of widespread bigotry.

  • Idle Primate

    Kind of precisely my point. Some of us feel not just that we are qualified to call everyone on all the things but also that it is a noble responsability that may raise our stature.

  • I don't care a whit for stature. In a perfect world, my job would not be necessary. But until people stop saying and doing stupid shit to each other in the workplace/classroom, I have unfortunate job security. Because someone needs to stand up and say that certain behaviors are not acceptable and will not be tolerated. We are neither noble nor popular, but sometimes, if we're lucky, we are thanked for making someone feel safer or at least not alone.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Charlie Sheen is going to have a delightfully racist gay man on the next Anger Management, just so he can say

    "Take it easy, Paula Queen."

  • zeke_the_pig

    You win, my friend. You win it all.

  • Slash

    I think the difference is Baldwin is an actor, lots of people consider actors to be naturally "unstable" (I know this is a stereotype, and probably an inaccurate one, but many people believe it and repeat it, even actors themselves) and if you want to get the uninhibited, showy persona out of them that we enjoy so much in the movies (remember him in "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Married to the Mob"?), we have to expect them to occasionally say or do assholish and/or batshit crazy things. Short of murder or rape, we are OK with this tradeoff.

    Paula Deen is a brand. A lifestyle brand. I never cared for her. Her voice kinda makes me want to punch her in the face, and I felt that way long before this bullshit happened. But she became another one of Food Network's marquee names (they probably refer to them like that internally) and that halo is supposed to help sell products. But it only works if people like the person and feel he/she is genuinely like the way he/she appears on TV, ie, homey and friendly and all southern-style, deep-fried hospitality. Thinking of Deen as an unapologetic racist who wishes she was in the land of cotton, etc. doesn't jibe with that.

    People don't need or want to relate to Alec Baldwin. He's obviously fucking crazy, but he's enjoyable to watch on TV and in movies.

    I see an opportunity here for Ree Drummond

    She seems a likely replacement for Deen. She's at least more pleasant to look at and listen to. She is in Oklahoma, though, so who knows what kind of bugfuck conservative Republican bullshit she may have lurking in her closet?

  • Bodhi

    She married into a crazy wealthy & powerful family here in OK. There is for sure some scandalous shit in their pasts

  • Sara_Tonin00

    She's in Oklahoma, but she was a city girl before she married her rancher. Had a Pioneer Woman blog - one of the first really big blog success stories. However, I don't find her or cooking particularly enjoyable. Don't hate her, she just doesn't do it for me.

  • seth

    This has nothing to do with Deen's use of a bad word. Read her in her own words. She's a piece of crap.

  • JessiLTee

    Elvis Costello, Alec Baldwin, Charlie Sheen, Chris Brown, Mel Gibson= Men
    Paula Deen, Mary J Blige, Jodi Foster =Women

  • This isn't a double standard. It's more like, completely abhorrant person and their racist policies vs. poor choice of words in a heated situation. The latter calls for an apology, the former? Destruction of an empire seems more than appropriate.

  • Some Guy

    And yet you have Alec Baldwin on record saying despicable things to people of different race, creeds and sexual orientation, and all you have on Deen is what she admitted to, and what one person has claimed she has done as evidence in a lawsuit worth potential millions, despite the fact that no other employees, the actual ones who had to suffer under her, have joined in the suit...

    You've sacrificed Deen in the court of public opinion already, and yet give Baldwin a pass because he lost his temper and said something offensive towards a minority for the umpteenth time? What, Deen doesn't get a pass for using the N word after a black man robbed her and held a gun to her head?

    Say out loud now:

    [I] am a h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e!

  • jason malinoski

    You reveal your dishonesty when you say it's only about a word she uttered under duress. That's not even CLOSE to the whole story, and you know it.

  • Perhaps if you were a registered user I'd care about your idiotic opinion, but since you're just some anonymous Paula Deen supporter, go back to posting rants on the Food Network Facebook page.

  • Some Guy

    You handled my response with grace, wit and tact. Congrats.

    From the sound of things, you've got Paula and Alec backwards. Baldwin is an abhorrent, racist person. I know this because he's said so and it's on film.

    You think Deen is an abhorrent and racist person based not off of what she said, but what someone said she said.

    You are still a hypocrite, even if I'm an unregistered guest.

  • googergieger

    I'm a regular, and more important than the both of you(and most people in general according to my incredibly unhealthy superiority complex my old shrink was babbling on about way back when, when I went to one, but that's personal, and none of your guys business) and I agree with some guy. You're clearly an effin hypocrite Bichon. Though really both Deen and Baldwin are pretty much c__.

  • simplysarah

    Bottom line, people are assholes. Seriously. People say crappy things and are generally crappy people. Sometimes we find out about it and are okay with the level of crap, sometimes we can't get past the mountain of shit.

  • $27019454

    I usually hate the argument of the slippery slope as it makes general that which is specific, but. BUT. I have a hard time believing it is realistic for each of us to approve absolutely of each person we choose to employ or associate with.

    Costello is an artist. He is in my employ as a court jester, more or less. He is paid to amuse and entertain me. Does he do this job well and consistently? Yes? Then I am not sure I care if he is an asshole (p.s., I am also an asshole much of the time). My plumber might be a tax cheat, but he is on call on holidays and he keeps the pipes moving in my house.

    Am I responsible to make sure each person I associate with or employ be a righteous, upright person? Fuck. That's is a heavy burden and quite unrealistic.

    Now, I agree there are things we know that we probably shouldn't (Baldwin's relationship with his daughter is their biz, NOT mine), and we are left to do with that info what we will. But asking me to be completely consistent in my dealings and getting the lowdown on each person and then somehow play that hand effectively is reeeedonkulous.

    I still think Mel Gibson is Mad Talented and I like Jodi Foster and believe she probably has a solid friendship with a guy we all see as an asshole. I see Polanski movies and really appreciate some of them. I will not apologize for that and I would not ask any of you to (fill in the blank) with (fill n the blank artist asshole of choice). It's not that I don't care: I'm human and I am fallible and i am a realist.

  • googergieger

    Are you out of your damn mind? You just say you won't apologize for liking Polanski movies, and you won't ask someone else to apologize for liking the work of someone who is an asshole? You comparing fucking Polanski to an actor who doesn't talk to anyone on the set that doesn't make more than a million dollars a year? Da fuck is wrong with you? Anyways you are right, you are human. Sometimes I wish I wasn't. Sometimes I'm glad I am. Still, have to be consistent with what you believe in. Have to be honest with yourself. Ideally others as well. Which means, if you hate someone for something, really no reason you shouldn't hate someone else for the exact same reason. Granted circumstances and such matter. Not a black and white world we live in, but this post wasn't about that. Though yeah Dean and Baldwin are two totally different issues.

  • hippyherb

    "Am I responsible to make sure each person I associate with or employ be a righteous, upright person? Fuck. That's is a heavy burden and quite unrealistic.

    Now, I agree there are things we know that we probably shouldn't (Baldwin's relationship with his daughter is their biz, NOT mine), and we are left to do with that info what we will. But asking me to be completely consistent in my dealings and getting the lowdown on each person and then somehow play that hand effectively is reeeedonkulous."

    I agree with this part of your post, and very well said. But, watching anything Polanski did?? I just don't get it. I would never in any way shape or form, watch, buy, listen too, read, hang on my wall etc, etc. anything by a child rapist.
    I would not go into a shop owned by a child rapist. I would not work for, or talk to a person who raped children.

    But people do watch Roman Polanski films. How, why?

  • Idle Primate

    Ovation for this

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Ugh, Klingonfree. Why be so reasonable in this discussion?

  • han yolo

    I generally don't care what actors/entertainers/writers/musicians ect. do in their personal lives. I care about what they produce. I don't care that Card is a shitlord because Ender's Game was a good novel - I enjoyed his art, not his views on homosexuality. If Alec Baldwin is a angry, mean dickhead to those close to him, it is of no interest to me; i'm interested in his performances and how entertaining they are.

    Is there any obligation for these performers to be 'good people'?

  • lowercase_ryan

    We talked about this on facebook a few days ago, why is everyone saying Paula Deen is getting shit on because she used the N word a long time ago?? BULLSHIT! How are you overlooking the part where she thought a plantation themed wedding, COMPLETE WITH BLACK MEN PLAYING SLAVES, was a wonderful idea?!?!?!

    The difference between someone like Deen and someone like Baldwin, for me anyways, is that I firmly believe Deen is a racist. Through and through, no bullshit, no matter what she thinks. I think racism is a part of who she is and I don't give a shit if it's her fault or not. On the other hand, I don't necessarily believe that Baldwin is a homophobe. I believe with every ounce of my being that he is a royal prick. He loves to fight and yell and cuss. He's a fucking dickhead and a bully through and through. But I don't believe he goes after people because they're black or gay, I think he goes after them when they piss him off. Whether or not he's justified in getting pissed off is beside the point. He's a hothead who grabs for any insult he can hurl in the heat of the moment. But I don't think the hate is based on anything more than personal interactions. Which makes the crap he pulls a lot more forgivable than what Deen did.

    Once the world believes prejudicial hatred is a part of who you are, the game is over. Look at Mel Gibson.

  • Yeah, like I said in that discussion, her ideas about a southern wedding that would indicate status and wealth were indicative of who she really is. All the companies dropping her aren't all about one word.

  • Katie

    I think the common denominator is gender in all of these examples. Deen vs Baldwin. Foster and Blige vs. Costello.

  • Steph

    I have a theory about all this. Celebrities will be forgiven if their transgression doesn't go against their public image. In other words, "nice girls" and heroic types like Meg Ryan and Kevin Costner will suffer when they get caught cheating on their spouses because it contradicts the way their fans see them. Whereas Russell Crowe can throw phones at people all day and Angelina Jolie can (allegedly) sleep with a married man and it's no biggie because they were already seen as aggressive or seductive or whatever.
    I've always thought that Wynona Ryder's career would not have suffered nearly as much from that shoplifting incident had she been known for playing bad girls.

  • TK

    I am extremely hesitant to judge Alec Baldwin for his comments about his daughter, as reprehensible as they may be.


    Here's the thing: My father... was not always a gentle man. He had a white-hot, occasionally violent temper, and when angry would swear at us and could occasionally get downright unpleasant. If he was famous, and word came out about the way he sometimes spoke to us and treated us, his career and life would have been over.

    But I love my father. I love my father, and I always have. He is a man of uncommon wisdom, capable of boundless love, who simply... had demons. He has since exorcised those demons, come to grips with his anger and its roots, and even gone so far as to apologize to my sister and I for the way he was. It's one of the things that makes me love him even more than I did in the past. Parents are complicated people, and their relationships with their children are even more so. And I would be shocked if all of us had parents who never had a moment of rage or fury where they said something terrible to their child. As such, I don't know that it's always fair for the court of public opinion to judge them.

    Baldwin's actions, in the grand scheme of things, are far less egregious than my dad's. I've found it in my heart to forgive my father for his sins. And while I certainly don't condone the actions of either man, the dynamic is far too murky and difficult for me to pass judgment on them.

    Dad, if you're reading this, sorry for airing the laundry. I love you, and the best parts of you are the utmost example of the father I hope to be. Of course, we both know that you only read my posts anyway, right? Right.

  • NateMan

    We can accept that parents are complicated people and still call them out on their shit. I love my dad more than anything but my wife and daughter. He still walks a fine line with alcohol and is one of the laziest men I've ever met - and that's saying something coming from me. And my mother... Well, I love her too, but she's probably going to go 'round the bend into full-blown psychosis in the next decade or so.

    Baldwin's daughter probably still loves her father, and I expect he loves her too. However, given his track record with other people it's not out of the realm of likelihood to say this isn't the first or last time he acted downright vicious to his own offspring. To call an 11yr old girl a pig because she missed a phone call borders on emotional abuse, in my book.

    My father swore at me, though he never called me names. My mother practiced guilt trips, mind-fucks, and emotional abuse like it was going out of style. And if any of that gets perpetrated on my kid, they're gonna be out of my life faster than a stripper down a greased pole. Well, except for the swearing: every kid needs a "WTF did you just do?!" aimed at them every now and then.

    I'm truly glad your father recognized his failings and atoned for them. The difference is, apart from some public apologies that don't mean a damn thing apart from his PR folks gave him a tongue-lashing, Baldwin hasn't done anything to show he's reformed.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    You are doing a lot of reading into the father/daughter relationship against Baldwin, but not against his daughter. You are being presumptuous, in the literal sense. His daughter may indeed have been a thoughtless little pig, and thoughtless little pig is not an abusive thing to call a child, not any more so than brat.

  • NateMan

    ""You are a rude, thoughtless little pig. You don't have the brains or the decency as a human being.I don't give a damn that you're 12 years old, or 11 years old, or that you're a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the ass who doesn't care about what you do as far as I'm concerned. Once again I have made an ass of myself trying to get to a phone. You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone."

    We're going to have to disagree on that one. Calling an 11yr old girl a rude, thoughtless pig, denigrating her mother, and doing your best to make her feel like shit is emotional blackmail and verges on abuse, in my definition of parenting. There are healthy ways to reprimand or punish your child. This? This isn't it.

    You're also right that I'm putting the onus on Baldwin and not his daughter, because he's a grown-ass man, whereas she was an 11yr old child. Kids say and do thoughtless and hurtful things all the time, because they're children. We call them on it, and punish them when necessary, but we don't retaliate by being as thoughtless as they. We want to have their rough edges sanded off before they're fully grown so they don't grow into adults who behave like Alec Baldwin.

  • $27019454

    I would just DIE if my words to my kids were transcribed and published. I'm not letting anyone off the hook -- let me be clear. But seriously. I have said some wretched things and I would JUST DIE if they were made public.

    And let me be clear -- I am a very good parent. I have no doubt about that.

  • Amber Walker

    I actually broke this down due to the hates involved: The civil rights movement as it pertained to African Americans was fifty years ago. That is half a century for it to seep into our collective consciousness as it being wrong to talk and behave in a racist manner. However, the civil rights movement for the LGBT community is happening *right now,* so there is no long-term culture established for their treatment-- we're in the midst of it, so its more ambiguous, less concrete as to what counts as wrong/or right in the treatment of gays. (That doesn't make any of Alec's statements 'okay' or whatever, its just merely how I perceived the difference.)

    I also agree that unlike Paula and Chris Brown, Alec is just an actor, not really a brand name-- There are no products to buy with Alec's name on them, so there are no employees manufacturing these items that are represented by his statements.... It's easier to say, "Eh, he's just a jerk."

  • I suppose I appreciate the honesty here, admitting it is hypocrisy and based on previous favor. The whole thing is an uncomfortable issue.

    We can forgive a lot from the people we care about, which frankly can be a great quality of humanity. On the reverse, we will put heads on pikes for the same (or lesser) offenses, and that makes us all hypocritical assholes.

  • BWeaves

    Paula Deen wasn't fired for saying the n-word. She was being honest in a deposition for a lawsuit where she treated her employees like shit. It's the whole package of years of stupidity and bad management that is getting her fired.

    Alec Baldwin lashes out at people he feels has insulted him personally. Yes, he needs a filter. Who hasn't wanted to called their teenager a thoughtless pig? Who wouldn't want to yell at paparazzi hounding them or printing lies about them? It would have been better if he did it more diplomatically, but he wasn't mistreating and not paying his employees.

    I think the big difference between these two is not that one is right and the other wrong. They're both wrong. It's just comparing apples to oranges.

    As far as Polanski is concerned, he should have taken his medicine. He deserved to be jailed for what he did. I don't understand people wanting to give him a pass because he's a good director. That sucks.

    As far as Gibson is concerned, he's a bigot. I understand that some people may give him a pass because he gave them a job when they needed one. However, he deserved to shunned. Bigotry is not acceptable.

    Again, all these are completely different cases.

  • Fredo

    I would say the one difference between Deen and Baldwin is that Baldwin appears, to me at least, to have almost no inherent selection in who he targets and with what derogatory term. Whether family, colleagues or the public, he just goes off. Deen, otoh, seems to be specifically aimed at an ethnic group.

    TBF, Mel Gibson was much in the same way to Baldwin -- a shotgun approach of rage and hate that goes off and takes whoever's nearby out -- and Baldwin isn't getting anywhere near the hate that Gibson did. Then again, Gibson did use the n-word too. So now I'm confused.

    In conclusion, never, ever, ever use the n-word.

  • apsutter

    I agree with another poster saying that Baldwin tends to just go for the "low hanging fruit" of insults, so to speak. He isn't targeting any specific group but just lashes out and speaks with out thinking. But Gibson is most certainly a disgusting bigot. I'll never forget the story Winona Ryder told of meeting him at a party while she was still fairly young and Mel called her an "oven dodger" to her face. She didn't know what it meant when he said it but was appalled later when she realized what he meant.

  • "Baldwin’s was a random outburst; Deen’s was an entire lifestyle"
    I have to disagree with this comparison. Based on what we've seen and heard from Baldwin over a number of years, this IS a matter of lifestyle. This is a man who has a rage problem.

  • Louise

    This. (I came to this conclusion with this most recent incident, though I don't know why it took me so long.)

    One of the other posters is right: most of our perceptions were safe from this information before technology put it in front of us 24/7 -- but I can't un-know something. This holds true for those we evaluate in retrospect, as well (i.e., Wagner, T.S. Eliot).

    For me the question is, can I admire the work, the craft, even if I despise the person?

  • NateMan

    Depends on the person\work\time-frame to me. Most of the authors I enjoy who have come out with really vicious language, for example, have been dead for decades. I read it all with an understanding that they were, to a certain degree, products of their time, and though I might not like the terminology they use or their enthusiasm for eugenics, for example, they're not going to have the opportunity to change their way of thinking, what with being 6' underground and all that. And many of them weren't called on their attitudes while they were alive, and didn't have access to the whole spectrum of society we do today.

    If you're still alive, if you're a current figure in media, I absolutely have more stringent expectations. Because you do have the opportunity to be different. Deen has had decades to view the world and change her language and behavior. But the fact that she couldn't even mount a coherent apology or accept the fact that what she did might be wrong lost her a lot of points in my book.

  • $27019454

    I'll answer that last question for myself only: Yes. Absolutely. In fact, divorcing the work from the person is almost a must.

  • Three_nineteen

    The thing is, I don't care about Paula Deen. I don't watch her show and I don't use her products. If she hadn't lost her TV show and endorsements or whatever, I still wouldn't care. I was pushing back on people who were saying that her firing "wasn't fair", when it really was.

    I also don't care about Alec Baldwin. I think he's a good actor and I watch stuff he's in, but if he were to never get a part again because he's a homophobic asshole, that's fine with me. But I'm not going to boycott things Baldwin appears in.

    I guess the things I don't "forgive" (meaning I would boycott them) start around spousal abuse and run up through rape, child molestation, and murder. Otherwise I try not to care about a celebrity's personal life. Heck, there are so many assholes around that if I did let stuff like this dictate what I watch, there probably wouldn't be anything left.

  • Wednesday

    I care a lot more about actions than words. Deen's actions towards her employees bother me a lot more than whatever nasty word she said in a moment of shock or anger.

  • Jezzer

    Exactly. Her actions towards her employees and her expressed desire to plan a wedding for her son with black servers dressed as house slaves indicate a much deeper-rooted problem.

  • And her words were indicative of a pervasive attitude of discrimination based on both race and gender (which is even more galling to me, since Paula Deen's image is that of the mom doing what she needed to do to support her family.)

  • Jerce

    Elvis Costello was being needled by a no-talent fame-whore at the time he made that statement, and got fed up with her wittering and said that to shock her. Being drunk off his ass at the time probably affected his judgment. From Wikipedia:

    "Costello apologised at a New York City press conference a few days
    later, claiming that he had been drunk and had been attempting to be
    obnoxious in order to bring the conversation to a swift conclusion, not
    anticipating that Bramlett would bring his comments to the press.
    According to Costello, "it became necessary for me to outrage these
    people with about the most obnoxious and offensive remarks that I could
    muster." In his liner notes for the expanded version of Get Happy!!,
    Costello writes that some time after the incident he had declined an
    offer to meet Charles out of guilt and embarrassment, though Charles
    himself had forgiven Costello saying "Drunken talk isn't meant to be
    printed in the paper." Costello worked extensively in Britain's Rock Against Racism campaign both before and after the incident."

  • PaddyDog

    Not only that, he financially backed and produced several bands such as The Specials who were multi-racial and had definitive anti-racist messages in their music. This is simply not the same thing as a woman who in a public forum in 2011 makes fun of her driver saying she can't see him because he's standing near a blackboard

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Ok, but for reals, Paula Deen wasn't fired for using the n-word. She was fired for handling the whole situation badly.

    However, thank you for bringing up the Sheen and Polanski things, because as I said yesterday - those, and Chris Brown, ARE WAY WORSE than Alec Baldwin throwing a temper tantrum, even if he does it frequently.

    And if what Palmerlime says is true, then no, Costello doesn't need to be called to account for one time stupidity that really injured no one. I'm far from an absolutist. There is such a thing as redemption.

  • That's very true. If not for the video debacle and "I is what I is"-ness, it might be a different tale.

  • sanity fair

    THIS! This is what bothers me most about Deen's "apology." It's one thing to actually acknowledge that what you've done is wrong. Then you have a chance to change. But when all you care about (as Deen seems to) is the fact that you're losing money because people are upset that you are NOT the person you pretended to be for the cameras, I can't find ANY empathy for you. Add the fact that it seems like she was discriminatory in her employment practices and withheld wages in exchange for booze.... I just can't with her. I was never a fan due to her connection to Smithfield, but I didn't dislike her as a person before this.

    But I am also conflicted by the fact that I can more easily forgive others. Baldwin may be an asshole, but I still think he's funny as hell, and I'm OK with that.

    And, yet, I feel guilt when I enjoy an old Gibson movie or any Polanski film, knowing that I feel such real contempt for them as people. Somehow, though, I am still pleasantly entertained by their art. So I guess I'm in the same boat, Courtney. I don't know how to grapple with it either.

  • Palmerlime

    Costello was drunk and in the company of people who were egging him on by making fun of British rock and rollers. He said it for shock value and then someone ran to the press. Charles has since forgiven him (this was 1979, btw) and Costello has become a huge advocate against racism.

    My point is... don't be hatin!

  • NateMan

    Dude, you don't say anything drunk you don't think sober. Costello performed a mea culpa and turned it around, and that's okay, because we all deserve the chance to learn from our actions. But I don't care how drunk I am, I'm not calling anyone a n****er.

  • Bea Pants

    I don't think, in Costello's case, he's JUST blaming the alcohol. It was a combination of alcohol, an attempt to be shocking and a time when the word was certainly controversial but didn't have the stigma attached to it that it does today.

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