Paula Deen thinks she can relate to Michael Sam

In this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 photo, Paula

In this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 photo, Paula Deen poses for a portrait in New York. (Credit: AP / Carlo Allegri)

Ellis Henican

Newsday columnist Ellis Henican Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a

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Sometimes it really is better to say nothing at all.

Here we have ex-TV cook Paula Deen, already scorched in the frying pan of racial bigotry, now jumping into the fire of clueless apology.

"It's like that black football player who recently came out," Paula tells People magazine, playing with linguistic matches once again. "He [Michael Sam] said, 'I just want to be known as a football player. I don't want to be known as a gay football player.' I know exactly what he's saying."

Huh?

"I feel like 'embattled' or 'disgraced' will always follow my name," she adds.

Well, it might, Paula -- if you keep pushing these particular hot-button issues every time you open your mouth.

The woman has failed to figure out the first two rules of modern career resurrection: Show that you've learned something from previous errors, and don't keep committing them over again.

Honestly, you have to feel a little sorry for Paula Deen, her N-word and all. She comes off so hopelessly dimwitted and dull -- so culturally out of tune with modern America -- it's hard to know exactly what she believes.

Is she a stone-cold racist stuck in the clay of coastal Georgia? Or is she a sweet Southern belle being judged by the citified standards of Washington, New York and L.A.? This much is certain: If she insists on speaking like she lives in a previous century, she'll have an awfully tough time recapturing her glory in this one.

Race, sexual preference and other modern complexities: It isn't that those are not worthy topics for Paula's homespun insights. It isn't that she has no right to her personal views and experience. It's just that, if she still seeks a career in the public realm of celebrity, she'll be judged by prevailing standards.

Generally speaking, you have to rise from the ashes before you can crash and burn again.

 

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