The Boston RED SOX have issued a formal apology to Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones and to all of Orioles Nation for a very unfortunate incident that occurred during last night's game at Fenway Park.  Rightfully so, but, let's keep what happened in perspective and examine the larger picture while we are at it.

At some point during last night's SOX-Orioles contest, a fan is alleged to have tossed a bag of peanuts at Jones as he was nearing the dugout.  Jones says the man also hurled the "N" word in his direction several times during the game.  None of this is acceptable behavior.  The fan was ejected from the park and may face further sanctions by the team.  Good.  To suggest however, that Boston or RED SOX fans in general are racist in the wake of the incident is unfair and inaccurate.  Racists come in all shapes, sizes and colors and from most every city.

The "N" word is offensive to all Americans and it's use should not be tolerated by anyone.  We have, however, established a double standard whereby the use of it is OK by some people and not by others.  The "N" word is used regularly in music, films, social media and even as a greeting on the street.  That is wrong.

The "N" word is hurtful, designed to sting and diminish those it is aimed at.  To use it with a wink and a nod as if in some inside joke is equally offensive.  It is not OK to say that some can use the "N" word without reproach.  It's use is demeaning and is never OK.

A nation with different rules about who can say what, when and to whom is a nation divided and a nation whose wounds will never completely bind.  We must all speak with one voice in denouncing hate speech and those who use it.