A million Two people have asked me what I think about Paula Deen.
If you don’t know who I am talking about, Paula Deen is a diabetic cook who once made a hamburger on a donut. She cooks with lard. She adds salt and sugar and butter to just about everything. She wants to clog your arteries with yummy goodness. Lots of folksy people love her. Anthony Bourdain hates her, but we all know that Anthony Bourdain is a lazy, sexist, narcissistic piece of shit.
Anyway, Mrs. Deen runs a cooking empire with her family. She is famous. She is on TV. And she allegedly created a sexualized, racialized, hostile work environment. Under oath, she admits to using the word ninja. And she apologized for it on YouTube (sorta).
Of course the internet provides some excellent fodder.
#PaulasBestDishes Ku Klux Klandike Bars
— Moses (@Lexvegaskid) June 19, 2013
So what do I think of Paula Deen?
Instead, I think about the hundreds of thousands of Americans who work for narcissists and jerks. What happens when the people who build things — small businesses, empires, monopolies — get drunk on power? What happens when bosses break the rules of civility and decency?
Employees get lawyers and sue.
Right now, there are lobbyists in Washington working on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce who want to limit your right to sue when you are a victim of a hostile work environment. They say that you are lazy and don’t want to work. They say that your complaints are frivolous. They demand tort reform instead of supporting your right to be heard.
It is gross. These lobbyists are disgusting. And think about it it: Companies never admit wrongdoing without the judicial system. We would have never learned about Paula Deen’s racist rants — or a multitude of other corporate sins throughout the years — without lawsuits.
So the next time you shove a donut in your mouth and complain about frivolous lawsuits, you better recognize that the legal system can be a healthy check on an unbalanced capitalistic society. Some brave employee got fed up and found a lawyer to help him stand up to Paula Deen. If it takes a “frivolous lawsuit” to remind people that it is unacceptable to use the word ninja at work, I am okay with that.