Communication in Paula Deen’s Fight for Credibility after Scandal
Paula Deen uses perceived intelligence to seek public forgiveness. Her use of the media is a successful method that she applies to cleanse herself. However, in so doing she diverts from the rhetoric theory by shifting her audience from the victims of her verbal utterance to her family and friends. Most of Paula’s messages and public utterance is dedicated to her family and friend. She recalls the many times she had to hold her family members and friends in times of need and wishes the same would be replicated to her. She seeks pity from these groups instead of focusing on seeking forgiveness from the people affected by her utterance. The use of the media is successful in earning her the craved invitation and reacceptance by her friends, business partners and family but the question left unanswered is; do the victims of her crime forgive her? Does the jury’s decision justify her innocence?
Paula lacks virtuous character in her forgiveness seeking campaign. In her mission to verify her innocence, Paula s lacks the appropriate use of language and action. In various occasion in the course of her innocence campaign, she failed to ask for forgiveness appropriately. Instead, she became aggressive in defending herself. She not only failed to use the right speech and action but also on whom to really direct her message. Constantly focusing on the family and friend and going far to be aggressive out of desperation resultant from neglect and alienation by business partners leaves her hopeless to a point of being unable to observe simple protocol of politeness. This is a strategy to divert the public from the seriousness of her crime.
There are two major limitations in this study. One, the interpretation of the use of the N-word; is it relative to situation and era? Paula says that she had used the word in a gun point situation. Well, that could interfere with the result and limit the findings. The other limitation is the diversion from the real audience to the created audience. Paula shifts the attention of her case to address an audience made up of her friends and family instead o9f addressing the real victim who is directly affected by her utterance. The thing she says to the media are not her own words but drafted by her crisis manager and thus the truth is far from what she says- supposedly.
There are two major implication of this study. First, the fight against racial discrimination and other forms of discriminations is at risk. Despite the campaign to eradicate such discriminations long ago in the Dr. Martin Luther era, simple and repeated actions like Paula’s will create tension and agitate the restoration of equality. Since there is no legal action taking and she is easily accepted back to the society, there is a possibility that others could repeat the same crime since nothing major will be done. Secondly, it is possible that Paula is guilty as accused. The report by her lawyer which claimed that she was not involved in any racial epithets contradicts her, Paula; deposition where she admitted using the N-word in two occasions one of which she could not remember.
There are two areas of future research of this study. One, a more research on the communication between Paula’s messages before, during and after the accusations is required. This will involve close scrutiny of her words to the media and in court and those of her close associates in order to establish the truth. Secondly, a research on why the court threw out the case. This would focus on the jury, the judge and Lisa Jackson in order to establish who among them was reluctant in their job and prove that indeed that was the best decision for the interest of both parties. The research will also establish if the lawsuit itself is discriminatory in its actions.