Paula Deen

HOLLYWOOD — “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never harm you!”

Whatever happened to freedom of speech? The fallout from Paula Deen’s use of the “N” word has run amok. Should she have lost millions of dollars of endorsements because of what she said under oath?

Thanks to cable, we can say the “F” word or any of the “B” words on TV. Remember Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back”? Once you couldn’t use that word unless it referred to a female dog, and the other “B” word, for a child born out of wedlock, is in common use today. The Oxford English Dictionary says the “F” word, in use since 1475 (for unlawful carnal knowledge), is commonly used as a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb.

In 2001, Jennifer Lopez used the “N” word in a song, as did Eminem in 2003. There were few protests. Yet, in 2006, when “Seinfeld’s” Michael Richards used the “N” word in his act at The Laugh Factory, he was slapped down and unable to work for the past seven years, except for three episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and an appearance on Jerry Seinfeld’s web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” until now. He’ll be a regular on Kirstie Alley’s new TVLand series, “Kirstie’s New Show,” with “Cheers” star Rhea Perlman.

In 2007, YouTube had Paris Hilton using the “N” word. In 2008, someone leaked a tape of Charlie Sheen using the “N” word during his custody battle with wife Denise Richards. In 2009, Jay-Z used it in a song, and in 2010, John Mayer claimed in a “Playboy” interview that black people love him so much they’ve given him a pass to use the “N” word. That same year Mel Gibson used it.

Celebrities who did a lot worse were: Rush Limbaugh (arrested for prescription fraud), Kobe Bryant (accused of sexual assault), Bill Clinton (did naughty things with Monica Lewinsky), Bill O’Reilly (accused of sexual harassment), Martha Stewart (did jail time for obstructing justice and insider trading), Hugh Grant (caught soliciting a prostitute), Kate Moss (caught using cocaine), Jude Law (caught with his baby’s nanny) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (had a child with his maid), and even though Clarence Thomas was accused of sexual harassment, he was still appointed to the Supreme Court.

Some people feel these alleged crimes were much worse than what Paula Deen did, yet, all the above are thriving today. A judge once told a big-name actor who claimed he beat up a photographer because he called him a name, “No spoken word can justify a physical action.” Sorry, no joke this week — this is serious stuff!

© 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.