I don't think Bruce Forsyth is a racist at all - he was just a bit daft when he said "Paki" was a bit like "Limey". Not really, Brucie, no. It's been said time and time again this week, and I know I've tried, but it's worth repeating: the word "Paki" is not the same as "Brit" or "Limey" or "Aussie" or anything like that. There's a backstory to that word that goes beyond a simple four letters, or saying that it's "just a word". It's not.
Brucie was probably just trying to dig his lantern-jawed mate Tony Beake out of the hole his daft racist language had put him in. Brucie's not racist, he's just a bit daft if he thinks words like Paki can be used as jolly banter. Ironically enough, he started his TV career up against these chaps
so you can see perhaps it's a generational thing. There was a time when it seemed perfectly normal for Welsh male voice choirs to perform in blackface as your teatime family entertainment. No longer. Political correctness gone mad? Or is it simply unacceptable to do that kind of thing in a multicultural society? And is that a bad thing?
Mind you, the days of the minstrels haven't gone completely, as the jaw-dropping story of five guys blacking (and whiting) up for a Jackson Five tribute on Australian TV recently shows. Is it just a bit of fun? Is it racism? Or is it daft racism? Or is it just daft?
As ever, the spectre of the PC Brigade has been hauled into the debate. As Stewart Lee once memorably said, people who complain about the PC Brigade seem to imagine that there was a halcyon time when it was perfectly OK to write racist abuse on people's cars in excrement, and no-one minded, but now you can't for fear of the politically correct brigade jumping down your throat. I think there was a time when it was acceptable to use words like Paki or nigger or sambo, but that doesn't mean it wasn't offensive, or hurtful, or wrong.
What's perhaps more disappointing about the whole Strictly Come Racism row is that real racism, based on hatred more than clumsiness or daftness, is alive and well in this country, yet carries on quietly doing its work without any kind of disapproval. It carries on without the kind of coverage given to the Du Beke / Forsyth row as well. There is a world of difference from Anton Du Beke being a berk and using an offensive term, mistakenly thinking he was being funny, and stuff like this: Muslim graves being desecrated.
No, you probably didn't hear about this story. But it's happening. Whenever graves are targeted - Jewish or Muslim - it's a crime of hatred, and the perpetrators do it not because they're clumsy or silly or get their words wrong, or tell jokes from a bygone age, but because right here, right now, they hate. The EDL are recruiting football fans to join their anti-Muslim crusade. The BNP are turning up on Question Time to tell the nation about their hateful views. The mainstream parties try to outflank each other on anti-immigration legislation. Maybe it's time to forget about some stupid dancer's faux pas and concentrate on the more dangerous racism at work.