Apropos of this Washington Post story on "nigger," I think the best statement on the word—at least in the last decade—is this Dave Chappelle skit, circa 2003:

By making the word a surname, Chappelle shows every possible use of the word, its assorted contexts, and its different meanings. And it does so without the judgment or sanctimony of most conversations on the word, which tend to cover the same territory, ad nauseam. You should watch it, though—obvious warning—it's not safe for work.