Well I will say it again, some portions of society have always been and will always rightly be offended by RACISM. Talking about RACISM and calling it the 'R' word, seems pointless when everyone knows what we are talking about. The word RACISM or RACIST is not offensive in and of itself, but it is very interesting when I think about why somebody would find it offensive, so offensive it starts getting the "C" word treatment. Why are people so sensitive when the word arises? Why do they become defensive? I think sometimes it is because people don't think of themselves as racist because racism is now seen as something 'BAD' which is consciously enacted by individuals, and therefore if a person does not see themselves as RACIST (good) you are attacking a person's identity and moral character. But racism is not just about good and bad individuals and agency, it is also about a system of RACISM, that acts below the surface of the 'common sense' you mentioned, a system that necessarily embodies, reproduces and protects RACISM and the resultant the inequality, but because it is hidden a lot of the time with coded language (Substituting terms describing racial identity with seemingly race-neutral terms that disguise explicit and/or implicit racial animus), think 'real Canadians' , New Canadians', think Dog Whistle politics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog-whistle_politics. Sociologists and Psychologists talk about 'Aversive' RACISM https://psychology.iresearchnet.com/social-psychology/prejudice/aversive-racism/ or to quote "A critical aspect of the aversive racism framework is the conflict between positive aspects of people’s conscious attitudes, involving the denial of personal prejudice, and underlying unconscious negative feelings toward, and beliefs about, particular minority groups." Another reason why talking about RACISM for some people is so touchy is because they actually are RACISTS, and any discussion or critical analysis about it threatens the status quo from which they benefit.
When I went to University for my History/Sociology degree I remember at first feeling like it was all a bunch of bull, and while it sounded good, it had no practical use for me other than occupying my time and helping me to not relapse into drug/alcohol abuse ( I was pretty much fresh out of rehab at that point back in 1998). I remember going to my Sociology lecturer's office and having a tantrum, I was struggling with all these new concepts, and as it was new, it was frightening, confusing and I just wanted it to go away...lol. I put it to him that while he got a good salary out of it, what was in it for me? I'll never forget his answer as long as I live, he said that if it did nothing else for me, it would at least help me to 'challenge common sense assumptions about the world we live in". I was still pissed at him and unconvinced when I left the office but his words stuck to me like glue. Fast forward 20 years and I can say that despite a shaky start the lecturer and me are friends to this day and his words proved very true and useful.
Why do I question common sense assumptions, including my own? Because they are anything but 'common' or 'universal' truths. A couple of examples. We arrived in Canada in the winter, so I had never experienced forest fire's before. My first trip fishing to Lac Seul that summer in a boat and i'm smelling woodsmoke, I turn to my buddy and say that there must be a lot of people on shore having BBQs that day, I was so embarrassed and felt so dumb, but from my experience my common sense informed me it was that and not forest fires. Another happened when I was responding to one of the replies in this post last night, I found myself about to refer to a lawyer that someone mentioned as 'He' when I did not know the gender of that person, my common sense telling me one thing, the reality possibly different. Those were personal experiences and now a hypothetical one, imagine how common sense would manifest differently for a person of colour and a white person if they were walking down the road by themselves turned a corner and were confronted by a group of white nationalists on the march, if it was me I would be inclined to run, for a white person far less a threat, common sense telling one to get the hell out of there and another common sense reaction being 'i'm probably safe'.
Chris you said that if your house was on fire you would want an army of 6'6" young musclemen to come to your family's rescue and that they not be gay or female and that your preference is based on and informed by 'common sense'. This seems reasonable, on the surface. In fact discrimination often hides itself by claims of reasonableness, I mean who wouldn't want their family to be rescued by 'the best', that's reasonable right? But there is a gulf between that reasonable common sense and reality. Last time I looked at our local firefighting team not one measured in at 6'6", and there is one woman in that group and she aint the shortest. So the idea that you are getting to get what is a cross between a homoerotic fantasy and a Bridgette jones daydream climbing the ladder to rescue just isn't the case. To say that even if you could get what you wanted but somehow if one of those strapping 6 footers preferred sex with men would mean they were less intelligent or physically able is also just not based in fact, and if as you claim RACE would not mean someone was inferior to someone else how do you come to the conclusion that sexual preference does make you inferior to others? I'm also disappointed that someone who considers me a friend would be so flippant about offending someone else, you obviously know what you said was sexist and offensive as you draw our attention to the fact, I was brought up to respect people's differences and avoid making judgements about them based on those differences precisely because it is offensive.