Which brings us back to the point about what happens now. There is an opportunity here if the BBC chooses to grasp it. For four decades, comedy on the BBC has become increasingly untrammelled; it began in a small way back in the '60s, the start of the great satire boom. The boundaries were pushed harder and harder until almost anything was allowable as long as the "right" targets were selected. You can make any filthy joke or snide, unkind remark you like about the Queen or Margaret Thatcher or any "right-wing" target. Try doing the same about Barack Obama or Nelson Mandela or any of the specially-favoured and protected client groups of the Left and, I guarantee it, your feet will hardly touch the ground before you find yourself deposited on the pavement outside Broadcasting House.
The effect of this has been corrosive. Legitimate authority has been undermined by a motley collection of "anti-establishment" comedians. There has been no antidote and no restraint. Anyone who suggests reining them in has been tarred and feathered as a killjoy and arbitrary censor.
However the Ross and Brand affair has been salutary. The public outrage was genuine, the message unmistakable. Mark Thompson - a decent man, rather boy-scoutish by instinct - showed himself to best advantage in the crisis.
By acting as deus ex machina, he stamped his authority on matters. He now has a unique opportunity to bring a sense of decency back to the BBC's comedy output. But the main question remains: will he have the courage to take it?