But do we really want to be a culture that preaches tolerance by immediately raking anyone over the coals who says something we think is wrong?
We don't just think it's wrong, it IS wrong. Everybody knows it is. Racism is an objective evil. There can be no defense of it.
As for Paula Deen: I don't care how nice she is, or how good (or not) her food is. You don't say things like this without meaning them. If she said these things, she deserves to be fired, and her employer can do it for that reason.