Joe Pisani: Don't judge the person by the accent

FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2020 file photo, Hilaria Baldwin, left, and Alec Baldwin attend the Broadway opening night of

FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2020 file photo, Hilaria Baldwin, left, and Alec Baldwin attend the Broadway opening night of "West Side Story" in New York. Alec Baldwin returns as host of the game show "Match Game," Sunday on ABC. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)

Greg Allen / Associated Press

If you’ve been following the news, at least the celebrity news — which is the only news worth following for pure excitement and tragic irony — you’ve probably read at least 21 times about Hilaria, the wife of Alec Baldwin, who was accused of impersonating a Spanish person for 10 years.

I was a bit disappointed to see these allegations, which quickly escalated into the most momentous celebrity scandal of the past month — one that has been reported on by The New York Times, the New York Post, People and countless other news outlets.

Hilaria or Hillary, depending upon your or her preference, was taken to task by the social media tribunal and accused of running a “decade-long grift” about her Spanish heritage and accent. At one point on TV, she claimed not to remember the English word for “cucumber.”

For those of you who don’t keep up with major developments in celebrity news, I will provide a brief recounting. Very brief. Here are the highlights as I’ve been able to ascertain them, relying predominantly on my investigative journalistic skills and my penchant for fake and unfake news: Hilaria speaks with a Spanish accent and for years has claimed she was born in Mallorca, although she’s actually “a white girl,” born Hillary Hayward-Thomas, who was raised in Boston with an internist and lawyer for parents.

The New York Times wrote the definitive Hilaria-Hillary story, which had all the drama and excitement of “Moby Dick,” and since the Times is indefatigable in its reporting, I suspect we’ll see 12 more months of reporting about the Baldwin caper, or “The Return of Moby Dick.”

Personally, I don’t care who or what she impersonates. Let’s be honest, we all have our issues, and the more you crave celebrity status, the more issues you have. I came to that conclusion from reading too much celebrity news. I can’t let a day go by without my medicinal dose of Miley Cyrus, Kim and Kanye, Johnny Depp, Drake and Kylie Jenner. They’re America’s role models, political advisers and moral compass.

However, this scandal raises ethical questions I’m struggling to unravel. For example, just because I’ve had a lifelong love of the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky, does that mean I can go around talking like Boris Badenov on the “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show”?

The truth is I don’t care where Hilaria is from. I’m more concerned about my son-in-law, which is the real reason I’m writing this column. (Now I have to whisper.)

My son-in-law occasionally uses a British accent, and I’m not quite sure why since he should have a Spanish accent because he WAS born and raised in Mallorca, Spain. THIS IS NOT FAKE NEWS, although I’m not sure it’s real news, either.

When he was growing up, they called him Pablo. However, he had an American father and a British mother, so can he be considered Spanish? Since he’s half British, should he talk like Mick Jagger? Since he’s half American, maybe he should talk like Yogi Berra? What should I say if he starts acting like Winston Churchill?

When I worked at the St. Petersburg Times (in Florida, not Russia), I occasionally spoke with a Southern drawl and words like “y’all” and “fixin’ to” poured out of my mouth. Fortunately, my coworkers never asked me to take the litmus test and pronounce “cucumber.”

I decided to start my own investigation into my son-in-law Paul, er Pablo, or whatever alias he’s using. Since no one in my family reads my column, I can tell you this with the assurance it won’t get out.

Though my son-in-law is as honest as the day is long, I decided to give him the cucumber test. He passed. In fact, he could say “cucumber” in English. And Spanish (pepino) and Latin (cucumis). (OK, I confess that last part was fake news.)

At the end of the day, our guiding principle should be “live and let let,” regardless of what accent a person has ... or pretends to have. Even if they can’t say “cucumber.”

Joe Pisani can be reached at