T he Asian century has more going for it than just a global shift in power and booming economies. According to Tim Mathieson - partner of the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard - Asians of the female persuasion are more than useful when it comes to poking around inside a man's anal orifice looking for lumps that shouldn't be there.
To a bemused audience of West Indian cricketers, Mathieson, a government appointed Men's Health Ambassador, tried to allay fears that medical checks for prostate cancer can be uncomfortable by suggesting they find themselves a small Asian woman to do the rectal probing. A joke of course but a joke that went down with Julia Gillard like a lead balloon. After all, this is the Age of Offence where governments are determined to protect us from being offended.
It will be interesting to see how this little gem plays out. On the one hand we have the Left: champions of anti-discrimination and people's rights. They will be offended that small Asian women are potentially offended or put in the position of being offended en masse ... or offended on their behalf. There is a problem however: the Left can't act too offended because Mathieson is the First Bloke of a Left Wing government in the process of consolidating and expanding anti-discrimination legislation, a process that itself is offensive to the Right which naturally includes church leaders and Murdoch Ltd - both offence specialists.
On the other hand there's the conservative clique: champions of "free speech", a euphemism for free slander or free premeditated abuse to keep the gay immigrant ratbags in their place. They're in the difficult position of wanting to ridicule Mathieson as a dopey communist hairdresser in the keep of the Prime Minister, but they also have to defend his right to pick on Asians or any other easy target the tabloids feed their readers.
Naturally Mathieson didn't mean any harm and has since apologised, but the damage had already been done. Another foot in the mouth moment for the First Bloke, one of a number including the time he met Queen Elizabeth II for only the second time. "Not you again!" he exclaimed. And so political football for commentators has gifted itself once again and will hold their attention for about ... 24 hours or so until the next new thing comes along. We live in strange times indeed.