It made me realize that when it happened I shouldn't first just go into attack mode, but rather make them aware of why the word is considered offensive, in case they didn't know to begin with.
It was usually the peanut gallery afterwards who would come in with the excuses.
But yeah I totally agree with you about the "third" group. As Malcolm X once said, he'd rather deal with the flat out racist (the wolf) cause at least he knew where he stood. As compared to the liberal "fox" who you couldn't tell what they really wanted.