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Hands off Paula Deen!

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May 1, 2012

Hands Off Paula Deen!

By Remus Powers PhB

            Ask not what disease the person has, but rather what person the disease has.

-       Attributed to William Osler by Oliver Sacks in his book, An Anthropologist from Mars (1995)


When America’s beloved Queen of South in Your Mouth revealed that she has Type 2 diabetes and is a paid spokesperson for the diabetes medicine she takes, an appalling avalanche of righteous media and comedic TrashMouth was dumped on her.

I don’t know Paula Deen. I do know she’s a strong lady who is quite capable of defending herself. “Hands Off,” isn’t a call for paternalistic acts of chivalry. 

Ms. Deen has millions of adoring fans. She has earned our respect as a mother, wife, cookbook author, and internationally celebrated culinary superstar. So what if she has diabetes and is paid to endorse the medicine she takes? So what that she loves and promotes rib-sticking delicious Southern cuisine? 

TrashMouth is no stranger to the barbecue community. Sometimes it’s between individuals, sometimes between groups, and sometimes all of us get it from the outside.  We take outside flack good-naturedly, like Paula Deen, and throw it back in jest. They call us “fatties.” We feed them phatties. They call us “rednecks.” We feed them redneck caviar. They say our diet causes diabetes. We feed them pig candy. 

A disease has predictable patterns and outcomes. Yet, each person a disease has is different. We each bring a unique combo of genes, attitudes, personality and lifestyle to the fight. A disease may have us, but it doesn’t define us. 

Autism experts say, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” People with autism are as varied and different from each other as the rest of us. Schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, obsessive/compulsive disorder, clinical depression, dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, various forms of cancer, agoraphobia and other diseases play out in different ways with the person they have. We’re not to be blamed for it or defined by it. 

Paula Deen has taken the criticism in stride, saying, “I so don’t worry about it.” Good for her. And shame on her detractors.  TrashMouthing Paula Deen is TrashMouthing us. Hands off Paula Deen! 

Ribs & South in Your Mouth to ya, 

Remus ;o) 

P.S. Read about Temple Grandin’s experience with Asperger’s syndrome in Oliver Sacks’ book, An Anthropologist from Mars. The book title comes from Dr. Grandin’s description of what it’s like to live in and try to understand the emotional landscape of so-called “normal” human beings. Dr. Grandin has written several books that lend insights into her experience, as well as how cattle, dogs and other animals see and think. The HBO movie, “Temple Grandin,” is worth seeing. Her enormous contributions to the livestock industry are documented on her website, templegrandin.com 

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