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In his editorial (October 2001 JRSM, pp. 499-500) Dr Sheikh did not mention one crucial question. To what extent is it a duty when making a public-service appointment to give the consumers what they want? Just as some women prefer a woman doctor so do some individuals prefer a black, brown or white one. This is not racism (or sexism) but personal choice. Social mores should never be confused with public prejudice, as priests and politicians now constantly remind us. The cultivation of guilt is quite unhelpful. Openness and humour are far better, even when it is no laughing matter.