By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – For the executives of corporations doing business with celebrity cook Paula Deen, handling revelations of her long-ago use of an ugly racial slur is apparently an easy call.

It would be quicker to give you the list of major retailers who have NOT stopped selling Paula Deen products in their stores. The company that runs Paula Deen restaurants seems to now wish it were Jimmy Dean instead.

It’s hard to fault these companies for understanding how offensive the word she used is, and wanting to protect their brands from customer backlash.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

But it’s also hard to understand what they’re thinking at Ballantine Books, which late last week cancelled publication of Deen’s latest cookbook, “Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes All Lightened Up.”

Since the uproar over Deen’s confession two weeks ago, fans of Deen apparently outraged at the extent of the backlash against her have pre-ordered the cookbook in such large numbers, it went to #1 on Amazon’s best-seller list, even though it’s not due out until October.

All the publisher will say is it was a “difficult decision.” But it also sets a difficult standard for all right-thinking Americans to try to meet.

Since Ballantine doesn’t think it’s right to sell a cookbook written by someone who once said something bad, it can’t be right for us to read it.

But how do we know which of our favorite authors may have also once used ethnic slurs of some kind?

It’s not as if Paula Deen uses her cookbooks to promote racism.

She doesn’t even use them to promote obesity anymore.

Maybe we’ll have to boycott all books, movies and CDs until the artists behind them – and maybe even the executives too – furnish proof of sensitivity?

It’s either that, or give this kind of cultural overkill a second thought.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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