Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Paula Deen Incident, Verse Two

Okay, I'm not sure why I'm adding a second verse to a discussion that borders on insanely silly to have on my blog in the first place, but I saw another person's blog today that tweaked me the wrong way and so I figure I need to write about that.

The post, by a guy who claims to be an attorney, started out by saying that if the defenders of Paula Deen only knew the full scope of the allegations against her, they wouldn't be defending her so much.  It then went on to list the allegations against her to drive the point home.

First off, as I said in my post yesterday, I don't intend to defend her.  She doesn't really need my help, and if the allegations being leveled against her have any degree of truth to them, she certainly doesn't deserve it, either.

That said, the fact that (someone who alleges to be) an attorney would make that sort of a case blew my mind.

Normal folks who haven't been through a lot of legal wrangling and/or education, I can kinda see.  "It is alleged that..." might make a difference to some people.  But I don't care, and neither should you, and here's why.

First of all, you've heard the term "innocent until proven guilty," right?  If you're reading this from the United States, I'm fairly sure you have.  Nothing is more American, I've heard some assert, than the presumption of innocence so beautifully stated in that phrase. Except that it was coined by an English lawyer.  No matter; many of America's Founding Fathers were actually British lawyers before the events (fortunate or unfortunate depending on which side you're on) of the 1770's came to pass. Besides, if my understanding is correct, the presumption of innocence actually comes from Roman courts.

But all that is pretty much a moot point, isn't it?  Fact is, many of us Americans pride ourselves on having a justice system that is about as fair and equitable as it can be. 

That's what shocks me so much about the allegation part.  An allegation is just a statement.  You can make allegations all day long, frankly, and you don't technically have to prove any of them (unless you have an annoying Facebook friend like me).

It shocks me even more that an attorney would use allegations to make a point, because an attorney more than anybody else should know what is required to put forth a legal allegation.  What does it take?  In most jurisdictions, a trip to the court house and a filing fee.  How much the filing fee is depends on the jurisdiction.  I just looked it up and here, in Shelby County, it's $499 for a case as big as the one against Paula Deen; cases less than $10K are $299, and others in between are different amounts.

That's right--for a few hundred bucks I could go down to the courthouse and legally allege that my neighbor is a poopy-head.  I wouldn't, of course, because I have nothing against my neighbor (and quite a bit for; I happen to like my neighbors).  But my point is how much an allegation is worth in terms of Truth and Justice.

Not a lot.

Look, I'm not saying Paula Deen isn't a racist.  I'm not saying she is.  What I am saying is that we need a little bit more patience to let the facts play themselves out before jumping on one bandwagon or another.

I know that if I were the one being alleged to have done those things, I would sure appreciate the public's patience.  Wouldn't you?


1 comment:

  1. For those of us who never liked her brand of country corn-pone, it doesn't matter- I don't think less of her because my opinion was already set. Would I be surprised if the allegation is true? No. If false? Not surprised either. Frankly, it all got out of hand because we seem to need an endless stream of "events" going on the support the hunger for more and more detail. We have all become the neighborhood busybody, peering through the blinds at the evil folks across the street, only now our street is the world. I, for one, am sick of it.