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Ricky's defence is not convincing

Ricky Gervais has never blanched when it comes to walking the tightrope between amusing his audience and offending them.

His argument is that "mong" has shifted so far from its original meaning that it is no longer offensive.

I don't find this very convincing.

Was the word "Paki" less offensive when it broadened out to mean "anyone Asian"? Of course not. Stand-ups have a need to say the unsayable -- I did it myself for many years.

And although I don't regret any of the poisonous things I said on stage, I probably wouldn't say them now.

"Retard" used to seem much funnier to me than it does these days -- now it just sounds unkind.

Natalie Haynes is a British comedian and writer