Racist jokes are no laughing matter - but the obsessive seeking of racist intent in every corner and under every bed can occasionally yield results so absurd that they become funny.

Po-faced commissars at Unison, the biggest public sector union, thought they caught the whiff of racism in a flyer distributed by four disgruntled ex-officials of the brother-and-sister-hood. Snubbed by the leadership, these hard-Left rebels had produced a caricature of the committee as the proverbial three monkeys who "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". They thought their comrades would see the joke. Big mistake.

One of the subjects of the lampoon deemed the flyer "insulting", while the chairman of the union's National Black Members' Committee called it "offensive and racist". There was an investigation, and a punishment, and a tribunal, and an appeal, and another tribunal. Finally, when the union had spent four and a half years, £100,000 and a great deal of ringing rhetoric on the matter, the Primate Suspects were solemnly pronounced "not racist" by their highly evolved brethren.

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