[Remember, I'm of Celtic ancestry.]
I'm shopping today after work and happen to end up standing next to three young, casually dressed but respectable-looking black men while I'm deciding on if I should buy a melon. These young men were not the stereotype of a thug: they all looked like the type who had legitimate jobs and were making a good go of life. I couldn't help but overhear their conversation, even though they weren't talking particularly loudly: I was, after all, 2 feet from them.
Black Man #1: "What do you think of this one, nigger?"
Black Man #2 [examining melon]: "This one looks better, nigger."
Me [shocked]: "Isn't that a highly offensive word?!"
Black Man #3: "If you said it, it would be."
Me: "And I never would use it. Why is it any less offensive when you, or you, or you, say it?"
Black Man #2: "When I say it, it's no big deal, because I'm a nigger."
Me: "That's like saying it's okay for my brother to call me a mick, but threatening to knife you if you did so. Either a word is offensive or it isn't."
Black Man #1: "These are my friends. Since I'm a nigger, I can call them niggers, too."
Me: "OK, if you say so."
I finish shopping and head out, still confused. I don't think *anyone*, even if they are of the race in question, should be using racial slurs. And if my brother ever called me a mick, I'd belt him one.