The N word. Is it appropriate to use? Of course not. Was it OK way back when I was a kid? Not really but legions of old timers used it then and it still slips out of the mouths of some today. Intent, here, is the question. Is a person using it as a racial slur or is it used in a very different way in the minds of old people who really may not even realize what they are saying and how offensive it is these days.
I remember hearing both my father and my father-in law use it. My dad used it to refer to an old family retainer and it was said lovingly and with a huge big smile. My dad adored this man. Granted this was well over thirty years ago. My father-in-law's slip was in the car with just Bruce and myself, doing about eighty mph on a farm road and let's just say it was not used lovingly, but whatever. ( I have to say I was stunned but remember it like it was yesterday.) That, too, was twenty plus years ago. Their's was a different generation.
Enter Paula Deen. Did she say it? Sure she did. She's admitted she did. Is she a racist? I really don't know. Basically, only she can tell you her intent. Did she mistreat African Americans working for her? I don't know that either. I will say there's probably not a one of us who hasn't said the N word at some time or another, either in a joke or in seriousness. The point is, our culture has changed. We no longer say it today, hopefully, nor do we condone any type of racial discrimination.
If Mrs. Deen said it way back in the day, it's not OK, but let's don't lynch her for something we all have done, too. That's a tad hypocritical. For garden seed....she's 66. Let's all give her a minute to be as human as we are. I'm not perfect and I'm not thinking she is either.
If she says it again, then all bets are off. For now, let's just live and let live.
And that's just how I see it.