I've been thinking more about the 'Golliwog' and Carol Thatcher BBC affair. I've also been interested to read Robert's comment on my previous post.
On reflection my grandfather would make me feel uncomfortable when he talked about 'niggers' (after Jamaicans moved into England mid 1950's) and the eyeties (Italians). I think it wasn't so much the terms he used but the impression he gave me of his dislike Being young at the time I can't remember what he said but I do remember his unkind tone of voice. So it wasn't the 'words' more the implication from his tone. I remember my mother telling me that 'nigger' is a rude word to use. A " very old fashioned term" she said for a 'coloured person' . Which being old fashioned myself still feels the most polite way to talk of someone with a different coloured skin. Black to me sounds too close to 'nigger'. When I first heard the word 'wog' I asked my father what it meant. He told me it meant a Western Oriental Gentleman. It wasn't the words themselves but more the implications I gathered when they were used that I noticed. If some youngsters today hear the word 'black' used in a derogatory manner theymay feel it's an unacceptable word.
In the same way that if someone uses a crude word when swearing venomously I'll blush. If it is a youngster liberally using such a word due to a poor grasp of the richness of the English language I don't take any notice. But I feel a blush sweep over me when someone swears with deep feeling using innocuous words like 'fudge' or 'sugar'.
It's the feelings behind the words that are important rather than the words used.
I also remember when I was about 7 yrs old confiding once in an Uncle that other school kids called me names. He told me that names can't hurt. And just to remember "that sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me". Such a simple message but it made me feel strong enough to not care.