Look, she is 1,000 years old and has lived in the South all of her life. For the past many years she has been a wealthy white woman living in the South. Am I AT ALL surprised that she has "in the past" used the word "nigger"? Come on. I think to avoid answering yes she would have needed to say, "Do you mean since I have been sitting here in this room?"
I lived in North Carolina from 1986-89. I lived in one of the nicer and more liberal parts of the state. I heard nigger all of the time. Generally the word was proceeded by "fucking" or "fuckin'". Sometimes "goddamned", though that would generally precede "niggers."
My sister was told by a potential employer one time that she could live in a nice area of NC, where she wouldn't have to worry about being bothered by the niggers. The guy who said that was black.
Do we really live in a world where we pretend that old people in the North and the South didn't use that word all of the time until, say, yesterday? I mean, the famous 2008 story about the canvasser in Pittsburgh who asked the lady who answered the door who she was voting for? [Turning to husband somewhere in the living room watching TV] "Honey, who are we voting for?" Husband, "We are voting for the nigger." Democrat canvasser puts a note on his sheet, "make sure these people vote."
My grandfather generally went with nigger or jigaboo. Sometimes spook. My mom for whatever reason liked "colored," she wasn't above using nigger, but it was sort of a last resort for her.
I cannot help but think of poor Michael Scott on The Office who called Oscar "gay" for preferring Shakespeare in Love to Die Hard (or maybe it was Rocky). When the fictional Michael Scott and I were growing up in PA and NY, that was a perfectly acceptable term and used to denote someone being "lame" or effeminate. How many times in the 1980s and 1990s did I call someone gay, fag or homo? I guess I have to say for the record here - NEVER, it NEVER happened. Please take a screen shot of this and record it somewhere safe - all my life I NEVER called anyone gay or a fag or a homo. NEVER. I am a fucking saint.
The use of the "N Word" as we now call it was so prevalent in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s that I refuse to believe any white person (who was an adult during those years and not involved in politics) claiming they didn't use it.
So...............when Paula Deen admits in deposition that she maybe used the word once 20-30 years ago she risks losing her entire business? Really!?!?! Let's put to one side my belief that she is lying and used that term 100 times or more in her life. Let's believe her and concentrate on her testimony.
She ONE TIME got so mad that she used a word 20-30 years ago that was used by all of the people she was around 2-3 times a day? And for THAT she is a terrible racist person who cannot be associated with any large corporation? Really!?!? What is our message here? Is it just that word that we so revile? So if I said, "Jesus, I fucking hate all people of African-American descent" can I recover? Charles Barkley once said he hated all white people. He was married to one at the time. To upset K one time, I once said that Polish people were overly sensitive and I hated them all (my dad is 50% Polish, my grandma was 100% Polish).
Don't we WANT people to learn the error of their ways and repent? Don't we WANT someone to say, "You know, I was brought up racist, and I said and did some awful things, but I don't do that anymore." It seems to me that what we actually do want is for people to lie and claim to be (excuse the reference) pure as the driven snow when they are not. If caught in the lie, continue to lie. This was the Bill Clinton philosophy, and now we see why. It is WAY worse to admit your failing than to fess up.
(Frankly, I don't care for Paula Deen, but hey, fair is fair).