The usual attention-seeking contrived offence-takers who so blight the modern world have reared their ugly heads, this time at the “Canberra Balloon Spectacular” event. And why? One of the balloons had a face painted on it and horror of horrors, it was black and bore the name “Black Magic”.

“Racist” and “offensive” they bawled. God they’re tiresome. What, one wonders would their reaction have been if the balloon had been white with the same two eyes, mouth, white shirt and bow tie painted on it. To be consistent surely that would be racist and offensive to whites. If not, why not? Much more of this and very soon black paint on anything will be deemed offensive.

A couple of years back my company bought a large black office-tower on the Wellington waterfront. While we own a few black towers here and in Sydney as a general proposition I don’t like them for one very good reason. That is black diminishes them, which is why fat girls favour it with their attire rather than eating less and exercising more.  Or for that matter, have you ever seen a fat man in black tie evening dress who doesn’t look smart?

Anyway, at no mean expense and subsequently to everyone’s admiration I had the building painted white, thus it’s now the most conspicuous waterfront building from the air.

But here’s the question. If painting a balloon black is racist, why isn’t replacing the colour on my building also racist? Surely there’s an argument to be made that it’s an insult to black people in removing it.

That’s not silly. To indicate how far this unmitigated nonsense has gone, especially in Britain, consider this incident.

Late last year in Britain, a respected senior CIB boss conducted a detectives’ seminar with a single objective. That was to get across the message to treat suspects honestly and decently and acknowledge their legal rights when interviewing them.

“I want you all to be whiter than white in your interviews”, he insisted.

You’ll probably think I’m making this up but sadly not for someone present complained that “whiter than white” was racist, thus the CIB fellow was immediately suspended while an enquiry was held. I can’t tell you the outcome as to the best of my knowledge it hasn’t been reported, but common sense (hopefully) should have seen the complaint rubbished.

Indeed if there really was any common-sense exercised the complainant should have been flogged. 500 lashes followed by a broom handle rammed up the bum sounds about right although probably erring on the too moderate side.

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