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Jerry Davich: Paula Deen, George Zimmerman, and our race relations dialogue

Updated: August 2, 2013 7:05AM



Today’s column is a sampling of thoughts, ideas and opinions that are swirling in my head these days. Hang on, here we go.

Racism, prejudice, and discrimination are back in our national vocabulary with recent news accounts involving George Zimmerman’s trial, Paula Deen’s tribulations and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to invalidate part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Some would say all this debate and discussion does nothing good for our country and its lingering troubles with race relations, racial slurs and racial profiling. I disagree. Although it does seem to stir up emotions that have been curbed by social politeness and political correctness, it’s also needed therapy for all of us.

We, as a progressive society, need to shed more light on these tough issues and tender emotions, not keep them in the dark to be demonized by anger and ignorance.

To paraphrase Paula Deen’s quip about herself, as a country, maybe “We is what we is.” But maybe, unlike Deen, we can still evolve without being lampooned and wrongly judged for our past faults along the way.

More summertime books

My recent column on summertime books to consider reading attracted a lot of feedback, including other suggestions from readers, such as, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (because the recent movie popularized the book classic), “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling, and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky.

And another local author, Emily Goodwin, has written several books, including her popular “Contagium Series.” For more info, visit www.emily-goodwin.blogspot.com.

Also, after chatting with the Rev. Rhonda Schienle of Portage, I was reminded to note my book, “Connections: Everyone Happens for a Reason.”

My book contains four “Laws of Connections” and several real-life stories from Region residents who best illustrate key connections, missed connections, and how to take advantage of your connections, from womb to tomb.

It’s also endorsed by Dr. Mehmet Oz of “Oprah” fame, who told me after reading it: “I’ve learned that everyone really does happen for a reason in life. My key connection took place at 7 years old.” (His personal story is in the book.)

For Schienle’s recently formed “Law of Attraction” class, she ordered a dozen copies of my book, and if you’re interested in buying a copy, its cost is $15. I can mail you a signed copy, just as I did for Schienle. For more info, email me at jrdavich@post-trib.com or call (219) 712-7237.

‘Tough Sh*t’ response

That same column prompted a handful of readers to contact me about my enjoyment of the book “Tough Sh*t” by filmmaker Kevin Smith, who uses a lot of profanity, candid humor and sexually explicit language.

“Dear Jerry, I’ve always known you were more liberal than I am, but have still felt you were a pretty good guy – until this morning’s column when I read, ‘Not to mention his nonstop cursing and sexually graphic writing, which I loved.’”

“Really! Do we need you to encourage any more of that sort of thing in this world? I’m afraid I’ll have to pass on your column from now on. Kathy P.”

Dear everyone but Kathy (who, unfortunately, is no longer reading my columns), yes I did enjoy Smith’s book and even his use of words and situations that some readers would find offensive.

I will not apologize for this admission, but I am intrigued that it was all it took for at least one of you to stop reading my words, especially after writing hundreds of columns and thousands of sentences through the years. Not to mention my objectionable opinions.

Small-business shout-out

This month’s small business shout-out goes to Valparaiso Transmission and Car Care, where I recently took my vehicle for long-overdue service.

My 2004 Chevy Monte Carlo has more than 210,000 miles and I’ve been putting off a few needed repairs, but this place worked miracles on it. My car runs like a top again, whatever that means.

Now in its 26th year, Valparaiso Transmission added “Car Care” to its name because a lot of customers, including me, thought it only did transmission work.

“But we are a full auto repair facility, bumper to bumper repair shop,” explained manager Neal Guidarelli. “Everything from brakes, front end work, engine repair, certified emissions center, transmission repair, electrical repair, heating and cooling, tires, alignments and anything else your vehicle needs serviced.”

As I say on my radio show, “Who knew”?

The joint also offers a free wheel alignment check and free towing on any major repairs. It’s at 1607 East Lincolnway in Valparaiso, and for more info, call (219) 462-4253 or visit http://www.valpocarcare.net/.

Obesity - disease or decision?

My column on obesity — disease or decision — truly polarized readers. Here are two emails that best illustrate the feedback I received.

“Whether we want to admit it or not - it ain’t a disease but a choice,” wrote Mace G. “After one fat joke (or smirk) too many, I got the nerve to lose weight in grade school. No pills, counseling, talk shows, or special dieting. Just determination I guess. So you’re right, it’s a choice.”

Then again, “Jerry, if a smoker gets emphysema, is it a decision or a disease? If an alcoholic gets cirrhosis of the liver, is it a decision or a disease? If a child or an adult becomes obese from eating overly processed and genetically altered food, is it a decision or a disease?” asked Sharon P.

“I do not think anyone wants to be obese any more than I think anyone wants to be a drug addict or addicted to cigarettes or alcohol. Many people make bad decisions in life and not everyone with a few pounds to lose is a food addict. But do a little research and talk with some people suffering from being obese before you pass judgment.”

Working vacations

A new Harris poll shows that more than half of U.S. workers would opt for a root canal rather than work during their vacation, yet they still feel obliged to squeeze in work-related duties with mobile technology.

Smart phones, iPads and other high-tech gadgetry allow us to stay connected with our jobs almost around the clock, something I can attest to personally with my handful of jobs. Such a scenario is both a blessing and a curse, I’ve learned.

In other words, if you can’t escape the office while on vacation, what’s the use of taking a vacation? A vacation from what exactly? My question to you: Are you planning on taking your job with you while on vacation this summer? Is it out of obligation? Sense of duty? To avoid getting fired? To climb the corporate ladder?

I’ll note your responses in a future column.



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