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.