This week, editors at the Cleveland Plain Dealer why they had banned the word "nigger" from a column. "For many readers, it's never OK to use that word, given its history." Reluctance to use the racial epithet, even in reported speech, is a pretty good indicator of political correctness. So we did a quick search of the Nexis database, and ranked major newspapers by the number of times "nigger" has appeared over the last year. There's an interesting geographical pattern. New York's competitive newspapers are relatively free with the loaded word; the New York Times more so, even, than the tabloid New York Post, though that could also be a reflection of the Gray Lady's vast daily output. The word crops up often in big-city papers, often in the context of black interviewees, using "nigger" as a term of endearment or familiarity. The most politically correct part of the country is also the whitest: Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, where The Oregonian, The San Francisco Chronicle and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer registered only one hit each.