When I was a kid, we often called our friends names that would be considered highly offensive today. I remember saying stuff like, "Jeff, you're such a retard," or "You're a spaz."
I remember seeing signs for Oriental Restaurants. Now it is strictly Asian. Oriental is considered offensive.
You can't sing the Oscar Mayer wiener song anymore because it refers to fat kids.
I'm not saying that Paula Deen should have ever said the 'N' word, but as a person who has visited the south since the early '70's, I can tell you that it was widely used in everyday life back then. No, that doesn't make it right, any more right than seeing a picture of my pregnant mother holding a cigarette.(Of course no one knew the health implications at the time) Speaking of my mother, when she was a child in Mississippi, the public restrooms were still segregated. She used the white toilets. Does that make her racist? No. It just makes her part of a once-ignorant society. Most people grow and change as the world does. I'm sure my own mother probably used that word sometime in her past, but along the line, as the area between right and wrong became more visible, she grew and adapted. We can't always condemn people without putting things in proper perspective.