I have worked with words my entire adult life. They have different meanings in different contexts. I am quite tired of that argument that black people use the word so it’s okay if we use it.
The people who are arguing for no more double standards—i.e., black people shouldn’t use “whitey” and the like—have a better case.
Even that does not mean two wrongs make a right. Are we back in grade school that we still don’t understand that saying?
Your lifetime of experience with linguistics, while no doubt fascinating (words interest me, as well) doesn’t change the fact that the screaming outrage over use of the n-word is manufactured and hypocritical. If we’re going to allow ourselves to be manipulated that way, then we need to be consistent, and we must start shrieking the next time we hear someone use the term “wop.”
Two wrongs do not make a right; you’re correct. In the same vein, one wrong is no worse than another when it comes to racial/ethnic slurs, no matter how successfully one particular group has been portrayed as a victim.
And I utterly reject the foolishness that blacks can address each other routinely with the word, while wanting to hang whites for it. Be cowed into that mindset if you wish.