Reading the "Why does everyone love Monty?" thread, particularly this post, has set me off thinking. It's fair to say that our parents/grandparents are from a less PC era. Both my grandads refer to people of a different skin tone as "coloureds" among other things and one of them is partial to the phrase "****** in the woodpile" to describe someone/thing different.
One was recently on a cruise (I don't have a bloody clue where he got the money to afford it from), and when describing it he happened to described one of the staff as a "blackie", whilst the other one was recently approached in the pub by a man who knew my grandad is quite knowledgable about and interested in cricket and was quite good once upon a time, and was asked "Hey Ged, what do you think of a bloke wearing one of those turbans playing for England?" before expressing his disgust and saying he should be playing for India if he wants to wear a turban.
While I am certain that there is no malice in either of my grandfathers (not sure about the other bloke), I have to ask your opinions about how people are brought up. It was a less PC era, as I've mentioned, but do old habits really die that hard? And is it that, in the examples I have given, people in predominantly white british communities (I assume St Helens isn't the only place with people like my grandparents) were brought up ignorant, using such words thinking they were harmless, or were they brought up to be that bit racist?