Apparently not even Strictly Come Dancing is safe in these offence-seeking times.
The popular BBC show has been caught up in a so-called race row, after the two remaining black contestants, Tameka Empson and Melvin Odoom, were voted off the show in consecutive weeks by the viewing audience.
The usual suspects on social media wasted no time in seizing upon this as evidence of racism among Strictly viewers, generating a controversy that forced the BBC to issue a public statement defending itself. A BBC spokesperson told the Guardian that in all but three of the last 13 series of the show, the winners or runners-up were black or mixed race.
The BBC did not offer an apology, as so many others involved in similar situations have. But it is disturbing that it was forced into a defensive position, in which it felt compelled to prove its non-racist credentials. It is all too common nowadays for anyone accused of racism to be presumed guilty, until their accusers decide otherwise.
We usually associate the concepts of ‘presumption of innocence’ and ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ with the legal system, but it would be wise to keep such principles in mind whenever a witch-hunting frenzy breaks out on Twitter. The type of mob justice that is meted out on social media reminds us what happens when they are forgotten.