July 14, 2013 2:10 AM

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

Plattsburgh, N.Y., July 9, Press-Republican on Food Network star Paula Deen’s downfall since admitting she used a racial slur:

Every now and then, something happens in the world outside politics that defines the sharp divide that exists in this nation. The Paula Deen debacle is one of them.

It came to light recently that Deen used the N-word in her past, prompting a controversy that ended in her forced separation from just about everything that had made her a kitchen icon. ...

At this newspaper, we have seen elements of the fray. Some readers wonder, for example, why the N-word is seen any differently across America from age-old slurs against other groups: Italians, Irish, Puerto Rican, Jewish — practically any group, in one way or another.

“I just accept that, as an Irishman, I’m going to be called names associated with my ancestry,” one man said.

“I don’t take particular offense against it, and I don’t expect anyone to feel sheepish about it.”

However, there is a big difference between use of the N-word and just about all other insulting terms linked to national origin or religion.

Few groups have undergone the long-term, repeated assaults and hatred that African-Americans have in this country — starting with brutal capture, importation, sale and exploitation in slavery. ...

Deen has certainly tried her best to make amends, but it’s hard not to feel that her frantic apologies are compromised somewhat by the matter of her lost fortune.

Most of us just shake our heads when reflecting on anyone using racially offensive language.

Those people certainly deserve censure. It is up to society to judge whether they also deserve forgiveness.Montreal

July 9, The Gazette on the deadly train derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

After the Lac-Megantic railway disaster, it is likely that many of us will never again look at trains in quite the same way that we did before.

Railroads were instrumental in making Canada the great country it has become. Trains have been widely regarded as the safest, most comfortable and enjoyable mode of travel. The evocative sound of a train whistle is pleasing to most ears.

After Lac-Megantic, however, the sound of that whistle will also evoke images for many of last Saturday’s horrific firestorm and the devastation wreaked by the derailment of that runaway train.

There will be a reflexive tendency among some people to associate the sound with impending danger.

It will take time and careful probing to determine what exactly went wrong with the train that devastated Lac-Megantic. Until that arduous process is completed, it is premature to start pointing fingers and making accusations as to what caused the wreck, tempting as it may be to do so. ...

What we can take from this disaster in the short term is the realization of a new collective desire to start looking much more closely at safety practices in the transport of oil and other hazardous materials, whether by rail, sea or pipeline.

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