I agree with the previous discussions that the right and wrong of someone’s word cannot be generalized and that it depends on who uses the word and who hears the word.
As I was reading the discussions, the concept of “moral relativism” came into mind. This concept says that the right and wrong of anything is relative to each and every human being. For example, most of us—I hope—feel that high jacking an airplane and crashing it into a building is a “bad” thing to do. But for some people, this action is a duty to their God—the holiest sacrifice, an epitome of virtue. Do we tolerate this behavior because FOR SOME PEOPLE it is a sacred action? Are we going to say, “Well, they thought it was the right thing to do”? (of course, I’m ignoring all the social and political factors that might have caused these people to do what they did) This morally relativistic view seems compassionate and understanding, but it is a potentially dangerous idea; any behavior can be justified.
Similarly some words can be offensive to SOME PEOPLE while SOME OTHER PEOPLE may feel that those same words can be “cool” or “hip” in certain contexts. What Imus said was obviously out of context and unwarranted.
There is really no end to this discussion. We all make our own decisions and stick to them while respecting others’ decisions. BUT I personally feel it is unhealthy for a 12 year old to be listening to a rap that espouses raping and killing women after making them high on drugs. Sorry. I am NOT saying all raps and rappers are evil.