Unless you’ve been in hiding for yesterday evening and this morning, you’ll have noticed that Jeremy Clarkson, of deliberately saying offensive things for effect fame, has deliberately said something offensive for effect.
Talking of the public sector workers who striked (yes, I believe that is the correct past tense, I’m afraid, as horrible as it reads) yesterday, he said:
I would have them taken outside and executed them in front of their families
On the face of it, it’s pretty damning. Saddam-esque, if you like. A truly horrific thing to say. Lets put this into some kind of context.
His comments were broadcast during The One Show, so I didn’t see it. I did know he was on, though, as I caught a glimpse of him probably plugging a video while Emma was putting something we’d taped on. The One Show is a light-hearted look at the British way of life, as far as I can tell from the bits I’ve watched over the years, and is hardly Newsnight or Any Questions?.
Clarkson has a history of saying silly things for effect. Here are a couple:
I think it’s a good idea to tie Peter Mandelson to a van. Such an act would be cruel and barbaric and inhuman. But it would at least cheer everyone up a bit.
Clarkson: We should do a car that’s quintessentially German
Hammond:What replace the spoons with little sausages?
Clarkson: No, no. Give it traffic indicators that go like that. (gives Nazi salutes) A SatNav that only goes to Poland. Und ein fanbelt zat vil last for a thousand years!
He trades off of this image of being a xenophobic, super-Tory. I’m sure he is a Tory voter, in all honesty, but that’s no reason to string him up by the neck. Neither is the comment he made on The One Show.
I guess what I’m trying to say is you know what you’re going to get if you ask Clarkson a question about public sector workers on strike. The One Show certinly knew that and I wouldn’t put it past the to try and pump up the viewing figures for a pretty crap show by enticing a bit of controversy from him, especially with his past for showing how easy it is.
Whether he truly believes the views he puts out is extremely questionable. He made his name as a dryly comedic motoring journalist, now he’s applying that humour to other things he’s asked about.
Unison have called on him to resign or for the BBC to sack him. It’s not going to happen. Top Gear makes an enormous amount of money for the BBC and we should be grateful for that. Without Top Gear our licence fees would most likely have to go up.
However, money shouldn’t be why someone should stay in a job. Talent should. I find the Clarkson that appeared on The One Show and writes for various newspapers quite irritating and grating but he doesn’t half put a good hour-long motoring show together.
Jeremy Clarkson didn’t really want to kill all the strikers, but Unison actually does want him to lose his job. Who’s the baddie now? Also, sacking him would make this sweary over-reacter happy, and I’m not sure I’d want that.
The main crux of it all is that people love to be offended. As I write this, the BBC have confirmed that they’ve received 50-100 complaints. Now it’s being spoken about all over the place, look for that number to increase. Think of the Brasseye controversy where people were denouncing it in parliament without ever having seen it!
EDIT: As predicted, it’s 5.30pm now, 4 hours after this post was written, and the complaints are now up to around 5,000. It took Ross and Brand’s shameless pisstake of Andrew Sachs a week to drum up that kind of number. Sheep, the lot of them – and he’s apologised, but that wont stop the complaints rolling in.
Edit 3: Monday lunchtime: Over 31,000 now. Why do people wait so long before becoming offended by something?