I think there’s a stark difference between how they’re actually treated and how player characters treat them, to be honest. While I’m sure plenty of people have gotten used to them, I can’t imagine a lot of regular citizens would be comfortable with the idea of bloodthirsty, loose-screwed, soul-sucking bearers of plague and necrotic energy just kind of wandering around the same streets as their children. When we RPed Senkha and Oliver living in Surwich, we RPed the NPC citizens
(mostly Gilnean, who I feel would have a particular distaste for DKs due to their experience with other undead and lack of camaraderie with them throughout the Wrath events) as being extremely uncomfortable with their presence, barely tolerating them for the fact that Oliver would kill the demons in the forest. They were known as the witch and her monster, and their house was avoided and the source of rumors.
I don’t think there’s anything in the real world that can really be used as a comparison to how I think average people would treat them. They are pariahs, certainly, but peoples’ fear and mistrust is justified. These are people that have to literally cause pain and suffering to survive. They’re not just soldiers, they’re obligate sadists, and they also have the appearance and magic of the things that obliterated the entirety of Lordaeron. Running into one would be like going to the grocery store and suddenly behind you in line is an ex-member of the dismantled brainwash death cult that took your sister from you. You can’t entirely blame him, but you don’t want to even look at him, even if he now runs run a food bank.
That metaphor got away from me. But you get the idea.
Player characters take a very different approach. It’s an exciting day when I meet a character who outright dislikes death knights— most are completely friendly, unafraid, and forgiving. When the rare disdainful character shows up, they are countered by about ten white knights that seem to seep out of the cobblestones beneath them and are chased from the area by a barrage of lectures about how DKs are people too. (I suspect this is actually why very few people play bigoted characters. I’ve seen the situation turn to OOC arguments in /say about why or why not it’s reasonable for a character to hate DKs despite their contributions to the Alliance and I think a lot of random RPers have a difficult time distinguishing “my character disagrees with your character” and “I don’t like you OOC”. So it’s just easier to play a nice person and avoid the trouble, keeping the zealots to private RP.)
Oliver appreciates the people standing up for him, even if deep down he’s not sure how much he really believes it. He thinks the haters are pretty justified in their opinions and would rather leave and avoid conflict altogether than have people defend him.
I have seen Senkha get even less guff about her choice in a partner. This might be because Senkha oozes an attitude of “fuck off”. Or maybe they just figure that if you’re crazy enough to marry a death knight (that’s old enough to be your grandfather), you’re probably not going to care what sort of criticism you get. Do not engage. This one is dangerous and has no fucks to give.
The only discomfort Chadley gets about his father is from his own husband, and it’s not so much hatred as it is “your father creeps me out and also intimidates me, do we really have to spend quality time together or can I just hide?”
I always thought that sort of thing got complicated in the Horde. The fact that there is an entire faction of undead notwithstanding, Orcish culture is very heavily into martial prowess which seems like it would temper that sort of reaction. On the other hand, the Sin’dorei was wrecked almost as badly as Lordaeron was, so I assume there would definetly be some blatant disgust at them.