The latest headline in the Paula Deen lawsuit story is that the claims of racial discrimination by the plaintiff have been thrown out.
These are the claims that led, over the last few months, to Deen losing much of her culinary empire. The Food Network, among others, dropped Deen after her own testimony in response to the claims in the lawsuit. She admitted using racial slurs in conversations with her husband.
In response to the allegations, retailers stopped carrying her pans, stores dropped her cookbooks. She burst into tears on the "Today" show, a venue that had been nothing but friendly to her.
Now we find out that the claims of racial discrimination have no standing. Why?
The accuser is white.
As in not black.
As in can't be harmed by racial slurs, at least, not financially.
But, as is often the case, the damage is done, and Deen's reputation took a hit that may still turn out to be fatal for her career.
Once you're branded as a racist, which Deen, by the way, may or may NOT be, you have a really tough time recovering in this country.
It's easier for wife beaters, cheating spouses and bank robbers to clean up their reputations than racists. And while racism is disgusting, I don't think it's any more a condition a person can't recover from and learn from than those others.
Maybe it's an even more temporary condition than those. But we don't tend to treat acts that smack of racism, or the people who commit them, with any tolerance -- think Paula Deen and Riley Cooper -- even if, as we find out, the accused outs themselves for no real good reason.
Maybe it's time to ask ourselves why.