I would be interested to know exactly what punishment Maria Miller thinks is appropriate for John Inverdale? Dismissal? Suspension? Rendition? Being forced to listen to an audio recording of Maria Sharapova playing a three-setter?
The culture secretary has just written to the BBC demanding to know whether "any further action is likely to be taken" over the tennis presenter's misjudged remark about the Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli. Inverdale's flip comment that Ms Bartoli was "never going to be a looker...so you have to be scrappy and fight" was crass, insensitive and smacked of an old colonel standing at the golf club bar, snapping his braces. It's not a question of political correctness to find this observation offensive: surely, in these enlightened times, we should be able to discuss women's talents and achievements without reference to how they look.
Around 700 people registered their disapproval of Inverdale to the BBC - as ever, we don't know whether they were moved to complain because of what he said, or because of the fuss about what he said - and we should remember that the incident occurred almost two weeks ago. Inverdale has said sorry, both on air and in writing, and Ms Bartoli appears to have graciously accepted his apology, so Ms Miller's intervention in the past 24 hours might be regarded as a little bit after the event, too late even for the action replay.
She may even be accused - heaven forfend - of political opportunism, but Ms Miller, who is also minister for women and equalities, is catching a wave by reviving this issue in the week that the Open golf championship takes place at Muirfield, a venue where women are not allowed to become members, and the Test Match between England and Australia is being fought out at Lord's where, only 15 years ago, the Queen was the only woman allowed to enter the pavilion.
Sport, a largely testosterone-fuelled pursuit, is where sexism has, down the years, been allowed to flourish, and what Inverdale was expressing was the sort of sentiment that millions of otherwise right-thinking men watching Wimbledon may have shared, and might even have articulated in more direct terms. As far as men-only Muirfield is concerned, Rory McIlroy said "it's something that shouldn't happen. It's something that we shouldn't even be talking about." Contrast this with the comments of Peter Dawson, the chief executive of golf's governing body: "If, on a Saturday morning, a guy gets out of the marital bed and plays golf with his chums, that is not on any kind of par with racial discrimination, anti-Semitism or any of these things. It is just what people do."
Mr Dawson is clearly a man who plays off a low handicap when it comes to non-sequiturs, and may be a black belt in obfuscation. He doesn't even begin to address the issue of why, in 2013, women are barred from membership of a golf club in a country - Scotland - where golf is supposed to be inclusive, demotic and free from the airs and graces that bedevil the sport elsewhere. He and Inverdale, who will be presenting the BBC's coverage from Muirfield, may well find they have lots in common over their gin and tonics this weekend.Reuse content