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Anne Rice defends Paula Deen against 'lynch mob'

Paula DeenAnne RiceFood Network (tv network)Hurricane Katrina (2005)Culture

Embattled chef Paula Deen has found an unlikely supporter in vampire novelist Anne Rice, who has gone on Facebook to defend the silver-haired (former) Food Network star, who is facing widening accusations of racism -- as well as a loss of corporate sponsors.

On a post that went live on the evening of June 21 on the Anne Rice Fan Page -- and was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter Monday evening --  the “Vampire Chronicles” author wrote:

“What's happening with Paula Dean? Is it fair? I never heard of her until today, and wow, this looks like a crucifixion. Opinions, thoughts welcome. Thanks to Troy Hawkins for the link. I may be wrong but aren't we becoming something of a lynch mob culture? Is this a good example of that? What are your feelings?”

Rice, a lifelong Catholic who recently made headlines when she “quit being a Christian,” manages the page herself, posting there frequently. As of this writing, her post on Deen had 1,810 likes and 4,141 comments.

Some of those comments were critical, with one user writing, “Anne, you're a great author. I love you and have many of your books. But seriously girl, ‘lynch mob culture?’ Are you kidding me? Rather clumsy choice of words when discussing this topic. Because just in case you don't know, most lynch mobs end with the dead black man or child hanging from a tree.”

Rice responded to this post by writing that “I don’t think the words are clumsy at all.”

Another Facebook user, however, who described herself as a woman of color, said the treatment of Deen was “totally unfair,” arguing that everyone used racial slurs on occasion.

Rice thanked this poster, replying, “Maybe [Deen] wasn't blessed with enlightened parents like I was. I was lucky.”

And over the weekend, Rice linked to a New York Times article about Southern supporters of Deen. This second post was absent of any commentary, other than Rice noting that she had previously spelled Deen’s name incorrectly, as “Dean.”

Rice prominently weighed in on the question of race back in 2005, when she wrote an ode in the New York Times to New Orleans’ black culture in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, arguing that it was “a great black city, a city where African-Americans have come together again and again to form the strongest African-American culture in the land.”

Her novel "Interview With a Vampire" was set in New Orleans, where Rice for many years made her home. Perhaps her support of Deen amounted to nothing more than a love of Southern food. Nevertheless, many were disgusted by her Facebook post. As Lindy West, a blogger for the feminist site Jezebel wrote, “Anne. Stop. This is not good.”

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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