Think about the many times a celebrity has been caught muttering -- or in some cases, shouting -- racist comments.
Or ponder how often somebody in the public eye has issued a bigoted tweet or did something else that made his or her fans say, "Give them a break. They didn't mean it. They're not really prejudiced."
The list of excuses always the following accusation: People who object to such behavior are hypocrites because, after all, "everybody has used those words."
But is this even remotely true?
I must be the most serene dude on the planet, because I swear to you that I have never hurled a racial invective at someone. No, not even when I was a kid. And no, not even when I was drunk.
Now, I have spoken the n-word when quoting someone (usually a racist) or referring to a song lyric or some other third-party use. But flinging it at someone -- or uttering it behind their backs -- is something that I just haven't done. Needless to say, I haven't thrown "wetback" at my fellow Latinos or shouted, "gook" at Asian people or snapped, "cracker" at white people.
Apparently, this makes me an outlier, or a nominee for world citizen. Because I hear all the time how "if you say you haven't used those words, you're a liar."
I'm cynical by nature. But I have a hard believing that the vast majority of my fellow humans are mumbling slurs when they think no one is listening.
And as for the excuse that people snap under stress, well, I've been angry plenty of times, at people of every shade and hue. And it hasn't crossed my mind to yell, "Go to hell, you [ethnic slur]" at such times.
The altered excuse (i.e., that alcohol or drugs makes you say things you don't really mean) also doesn't fly with me. Again, I've had a few cocktails in my life, and I don't recall getting buzzed and launching into racist jokes or slurring how the Middle Eastern guy at the bar is probably al Qaeda.
I'm not boasting, because it would be pretty sad if I wanted kudos just for avoiding hateful insults. To me, that should be basic behavior.
So I'm sincerely asking if I'm deluded on this topic.
Does everybody really use these words? What do you say?