Apparently there was a bit of a furore over someone using the N word (thats nigger for those who aren't enlightened). It seems there is some contreversy over whether it is offensive. Well, I guess it all depends on whether it is meant to be offensive. I refrain from using it myself, just in case it is misinterpreted. I do remember in Bournemouth a black guy responding "cheers nigger" almost as an acknowledgement of respect to me, and I certainly wasn't offended. However many people find it offensive, even if the younger generation are increasingly using it to recognise a positive identity.
It will be interesting to see if 10, 20 or even 50 years time what it has come to mean.