Is you really what you is?

I might be able to forgive Paula Deen all sorts of things. People in the South live their lives constantly simmering in a stew of racist thought and action, to such a degree that many of them never recognize how offensive some of their thoughts and behaviors are to the rest of the civilized world.

But I don’t think I can find it in my heart to forgive her for saying “I is what I is” on national television.

Regular readers will remember that while I come down hard on mistakes in writing, I’m usually very soft on errors of this kind in speech. There are limits to everything, however, and coming as this line did at the end of such an obviously self-serving television appearance, in a rehearsed performance pitched especially to highlight her ‘good ole down-home so’then folksiness’ as part of an effort to salvage her endorsement income…well, I’m just not buying that this was some kind of accidental off-the-cuff error.

Deen may be what she is, and she is free to be what she wants, but that doesn’t give her a green light to butcher the language for her own ends. Sorry, Paula: it’s back to the doghouse with you.

Here’s the full transcript, of the Today show interview (with video) if you’re interested. The phrase in question is in her third paragraph from the end.


About thebettereditor

Chris holds a BA degree in history from the University of Virginia and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree in writing from the University of Southern Maine (Stonecoast). He has worked extensively with professional and semi-professional writers and enthusiastic amateurs for about 20 years. He has several years experience in scientific publishing, but has also worked in information technology, insurance, health care, and education (he taught writing at the university level for a number of years). Since 2011, he's also specialized in helping small business meet their writing and editing needs on a budget.
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3 Responses to Is you really what you is?

  1. cindydyer says:

    I’m with you on this one, Chris! Forgiving racial slurs is one thing; forgiving “I is what I is” is hard to do. 🙂

  2. Thanks for appreciating my sarcasm, Cindy! Of course, her use of racial slurs shows intolerance…but as she said herself, everyone has said something they’ve come to regret. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and accept her sincerity. But “I is what I is” just crosses the line.

  3. Pingback: Are you on vacation or on holiday? | thebettereditor

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