Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) on Food Network star Paula Deen's downfall since admitting she used a racial slur:
Every now and then, something happens in the world outside politics that defines the sharp divide that exists in this nation. The Paula Deen debacle is one of them.
It came to light recently that Deen used the N-word in her past, prompting a controversy that ended in her forced separation from just about everything that had made her a kitchen icon. ...
At this newspaper, we have seen elements of the fray.
Some readers wonder, for example, why the N-word is seen any differently across America from age-old slurs against other groups: Italians, Irish, Puerto Rican, Jewish - practically any group, in one way or another.
"I just accept that, as an Irishman, I'm going to be called names associated with my ancestry," one man said. "I don't take particular offense against it, and I don't expect anyone to feel sheepish about it."
However, there is a big difference between use of the N-word and just about all other insulting terms linked to national origin or religion. Few groups have undergone the long-term, repeated assaults and hatred that African-Americans have in this country - starting with brutal capture, importation, sale and exploitation in slavery. ...
Deen has certainly tried her best to make amends, but it's hard not to feel that her frantic apologies are compromised somewhat by the matter of her lost fortune.
Most of us just shake our heads when reflecting on anyone using racially offensive language.
Those people certainly deserve censure.
It is up to society to judge whether they also deserve forgiveness.