To have one racism controversy over a reality TV series might be viewed as unfortunate.

But to have similar scandals on two separate shows at the same time smacks of downright stupidity.

The “star” at the centre of this particular racism storm centered on Channel 4 is an 18-year-old stranded on an island with several others in Shipwrecked.

The teenager was fairly indiscriminate with her discriminatory suggestions – taking a swipe at black people, lesbians and multi-cultural Britain in general.

Channel 4 felt justified in airing the teenager’s assertions that black people were “really bad”, lesbians were “sinister” and to top it all off: “Britain is a complete mess. I just don’t appreciate people coming into our country and taking over our culture. I’m for the British Empire and things. I’m for slavery, but that’s never going to come back.”

Such charming sentiments once again dressed up as entertainment for the unblinking masses.

There are several issues at the heart of this latest controversy, which has so far prompted several hundred complaints to broadcast watchdog Ofcom.

Firstly, there is a case for freedom of speech. If she holds such views then she should be allowed to air them, whether we disagree or not. As someone famous once pithily said: “You’re entitled to your own opinion, even if you are wrong”.

Secondly, we can be the most effective censor of such idiotic and bigoted statements by simply refusing to watch shows such as Shipwrecked. If no-one watches, then the plug is likely to be pulled.

But there are several more pressing issues and a few questions worth raising.

Still reeling from the whole Celebrity Big Brother racism and bullying controversy and its own unacceptable response to it, should Channel 4 have been a bit more aware of the content of yet another reality show?

Is it right to expose such an apparently naive 18-year-old to the baying media pack at such a time? What are the long-term consequences that this teenager will have to face without the “celebrity” comfort blanket to protect her that Jade Goody is currently wrapping herself in?

The fact that Channel 4 has attempted to resolve the gathering storm over Shipwrecked by releasing footage of the 18-year-old taking back some of her earlier statements merely reinforces the folly of broadcasting the original footage.

But, above all, does no-one at Channel 4 realise that it has become the latest “reality” freak-show?

It has an awful lot of ground to recover as CBB and now Shipwrecked are dragged towards increasingly depressing finales?

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