In the league table of personal insults, calling someone a ‘golliwog’ ranks about on a par with calling them a ‘muppet’. Even as a racial insult, it’s not quite the sort of epithet that you hear bandied about at BNP meetings (though they do sell golliwogs in BNP t-shirts at some of those meetings, apparently).
Nevertheless, if Carole Thatcher had said it on air, I don’t suppose there would have been much disagreement about her being taken off air as a result. Nor do I think there can be much disagreement with The One Show presenter Adrian Chiles, Jo Brand and others for picking up Medusa’s Daughter over her use of the word during an after-show conversation in which she blabbed out her ‘off-the-cuff remark made in jest’ to describe a tennis player in the Australian open.
(Why the widespread coyness, by the way, in naming the tennis player concerned? I couldn’t find one mainstream news outlet prepared to say who Thatcher was talking about. Didn’t any of them think it might have been instructive to get his opinion on the subject?)
I don’t think it suggests any degree of sympathy for the use of racially-based epithets, however, to feel that the reaction to Thatcher’s foot-in-mouth has been just a little OTT. When the Beeb doesn’t have the bollocks to broadcast a Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza, it feels a mite disproportionate to start acting all macho over an ex-prime minister’s gobby offspring.