Battered and Fried — A look at ‘ButterGate’
by Bill Lewis
June 29, 2013 11:05 PM | 531 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
And now (pause) comes ButterGate. Paula Dean, doyenne of delicious delicacies, is the latest person in the public eye to be sullied by stupidity, it seems. While that disease affects each of us at one time or another, when you’ve got your own TV show and your face is plastered on book and magazine covers, transgressions tend to be breaking news. And very expensive.

At issue with Ms. Dean is her alleged berating of employees and use of racial epithets. Neither of those traits fits her public persona. Yet, if former employees are to be believed, Paula was not shy about tossing around words that are better left in the gutter, or at least on the trash heap of history.

Not that the kinds of things the butter queen allegedly said or did have any place in modern society ... they don’t. But if she weren’t a celebrity, probably less than a dozen people would pay her scant attention. Given her notoriety, though, the airwaves and tabloids have been filled with her mea culpa, and the revelations have already cost her the TV gig that made her famous. Ordinarily, that much free publicity would be priceless. In this case, it may go a long way toward making Ms. Dean penniless.

It’s a precarious perch on which we put our newsmakers. Politicians, Hollywood stars, the rich and famous from all walks of life, and even captains of the kitchen all usually clamor for whatever attention they can get. But when that “-gate” suffix gets attached to their activities, it’s never good news.

Right now, we have issues such as the IRS, the NSA, drones, celebrity rehabs, politicians with personal shortcomings and more, each having the potential to have the dreaded all-purpose ‘gate’ hung on them. Defining scandals in that regard has almost become a daily occurrence in the press.

As a public service, and to try to keep the 24-hour news beast fed, I’ve found a few other areas of interest that don’t get much ink but I believe could be candidates for their own “gate” designations.

n Half-GallonGate: Ice cream aficionados already know what I’m talking about. When you go to the store to pick up a half-gallon of rocky road these days, in most instances, you’re getting substantially less than that amount in a carton. The price of the sweet, creamy treat has remained the same, if not having gone up, while the container size has shrunk, often from two quarts to one and a half.

There are some exceptions, but they are few and far between.

To those of us who enjoy a scoop or four every week, Half-GallonGate is an outrage. I for one have taken a firm stand and refuse to buy anything less than a real half-gallon (unless it’s two-for-one, of course ... Edy’s Thin Mint flavor is just too good to pass up).

n SecondBaseGate: This could actually apply to all professional athletes. But I chose to focus on baseball players who can barely hit their weight, yet are compensated millions of dollars each year. Often, team owners will sign these players to long-term guaranteed contracts (and every sport has its own version of them).

As a result, the fans see multi-year mediocrity. And, as a further result, taking a family of four to a professional sporting event can come down to a choice between paying the monthly mortgage or attending a single game.

n HenryFordGate: You really can’t do anything but laugh when you hear a car dealer entice you into the showroom with the come-on, “And it’s only $32,599!” Like that’s a big bargain. And then you get the privilege of filling the tank with $3.60/gallon gas if you’re lucky. Henry’s grand plan was to make cars affordable for everyone. Somehow that goal got lost in the shuffle.

n TuitionGate: If your student enrolls at a private university, it’s not unusual to be handed a bill for around $40,000 a year. And that’s if said college kid sleeps in a tent and forages for his or her own food around campus. Where does that money go? It can’t all be for football.

ButterGate and its ilk is one thing. But those kinds of scandals only affect one or a few. I say to all investigative reporters, let’s open up the flood “gates” and dive deeply into areas that really make the multitudes sit up and take notice. I suggest you set up headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington.

Bill Lewis is a freelance writer in Marietta.
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