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July 1, 2013

ED VASICEK: The graciousness vacuum

Are we overcorrecting for past mistakes?

The ancient rabbis would rank the severity of certain sins. Many of us would agree that murder is worse than swearing, or that blowing up a building is worse than throwing a temper tantrum. Secular society’s ranking has changed quite a bit in my lifetime, as we seek to overcorrect and overreact to past abuses. The use of derogatory racial terms is a case in point.

A recent AP article explains that Paula Deen admitted to using the N-word in the past. Her admission locked her into a chain of events that reduced her to the social equivalent of a mass murderer. She is beyond redemption.

Patrick and Gina Neely (who are African-Americans and fellow Food Network celebrities), have taken a measured approach when they said, “We were shocked and saddened to learn of the comments from Paula Deen. Racism of any kind from anyone is simply unacceptable and cannot be tolerated ... . In our own relationship, Paula has shown us kindness and generosity. We trust that Paula’s apologies are sincere and hope there is a positive lesson to be learned from this situation.”

As for Deen, she is quoted as saying, “I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I’ve done. I want to learn and grow from this. Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable.”

I do not consider myself a Deen fan. If Deen had not turned from her wrong, I would be the first to say, “Nix her.” But, as I see it, Deen has taken responsibility, turned from her wrong, and even grieved over it; I think she needs to be shown grace — at least a chance to re-establish credibility. Food Network has dropped her like a hot potato.

Parents need to work at being gracious, too. Some parents try to shame their overweight children in an attempt to motivate them to lose weight. Another AP article reads, “Parents need to be careful about how they approach the topic of weight control with their overweight teenagers, a new study suggests.

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