It is a dismal comment on our celebrity-crazed times that the words of a shiny-faced ballroom dancer can have the country lurching towards a race row. The controversy ignited by Anton “the Berk” Du Beke when he referred to his Asian dance partner as a Paki has once again reopened the debate on the limits of language and tolerance. For Du Beke to use that word to refer to Laila Rouass was insensitive and rude. Using that term is not the same as referring to British people as limeys or Australians as Aussies – the P word is more than an abbreviation. It was a term of abuse when daubed on the walls by shaven-headed fascists and it has not yet fully shed its toxicity.
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