I am unequivocal in my opposition to censorship so I will not challenge Jeremy Clarkson’s right to spout whatever shit pops into his vile and hateful mind. I do however, object to a large chunk of the license fee (reportedly some £14M) going to support the lavish lifestyle to which he so clearly thinks he is entitled while belittling all those less fortunate – or just different.
His continued presence on the BBC is like a big stinking turd, the stench of which is impossible to ignore. This whiff of shit wafts around the claims of the Tories that the BBC is a hotbed of left-wingers. Let’s be clear, the only reason Clarkson is still a primetime presenter on the BBC is that he is one of Cameron’s Chipping Norton Set – and that another Tory, Lord Pattern, is Chairman of the BBC Trust. If he was a working class comic from Manchester or London he would have got as much work as Jim Davidson or Bernard Manning did once we managed to evolve our way out of the 1970’s. Clarkson has apparently been told this is his last chance. Just as it was when he said that trade unionists should be shot, mocked the disabled and made light of suicide and misogynist murder. As I have already said, I think he has every right to hold such objectionable views – just as the rest of us have every right to object to our license fee being used to fund it.
Of course, like all bullies, he surrounds himself with people who will laugh and say, it’s all “just a joke”. The same facile excuse that the targets of his “jokes” will have heard from people like Clarkson throughout their lives. They are “jokes” that I very much doubt Clarkson would have the guts to utter without the support of his producers and his vacuous hangers-on. So what the BBC is doing, by enabling Clarkson to carry on spouting his bile, is providing a bully with the platform and the backing to continue being a bully. It is that that is unacceptable and that that has to stop – now!
But it won’t because despite claiming they have no intention of causing offence, the BBC seem to relish the offence that Top Gear regularly causes. On the BBC news page the top feature is Car Crash TV: Top Gear’s most controversial moments. The feature is triumphalist in tone, “Top Gear is one of the BBC’s most popular and profitable series, but it has a history of controversy. The close-to-the-knuckle humour and high-octane stunts are all part of the attraction to the show’s 6.5 million viewers. But it has also landed in hot water for a series of inappropriate comments, misfiring stunts and production errors. Here are some of the show’s more contentious moments…” Looking at those moments it is hard not to wonder if the BBC is deliberately courting controversy to promote the programme. The two most recent controversies certainly lends support to those who contend that Clarkson and his cronies are ACTUALLY BE GOING OUT OF THEIR WAY TO OFFEND MINORITIES.
I didn’t even understand the double meaning of the word slope in the Burma episode – and I very much doubt that the majority of viewers did either. So it wasn’t about entertaining – it was about making an in-joke to others who could recognise the term in its context. This could only be people who would use the term or those who would be offended by it. Since those who would be offended by it wouldn’t see the “joke”, it has to be aimed at those who would use the term – by definition, racists. The mealy-mouthed apology contended that, “it was a light-hearted word-play joke referencing both the build quality of the bridge and the local Asian man crossing it,” while they, “were not aware that the word ‘slope’ is considered to be offensive,” and, “regret any offense caused.” REALLY?!?! I mean, do they really expect us to believe that they knew enough to understand the correct use of the word but failed to understand that its use was offensive? Did these people, whose profession is communication, really not understand enough to realise that they would cause offence – or did they think they could get away with it?
The response to the nigger comment fits with this pattern. Initially, Clarkson came out fighting, saying, “I did not use the n word. Never use it. The Mirror has gone way too far this time.” But by the end of the day he was saying something very different – but still going through semantic contortions to argue that he did not say what other people seemed to have heard,
“A couple of years ago I recorded an item for Top Gear in which I quote the rhyme “eeny, meeny, miny, moe”. Of course, I was well aware that in the best-known version of this rhyme there is a racist expression that I was extremely keen to avoid. The full rushes show that I did three takes. In two, I mumbled where the offensive word would normally occur and in the third I replaced it altogether with the word teacher. Now when I viewed this footage several weeks later I realised that in one of the mumbled versions if you listen very carefully with the sound turned right up it did appear that I’d actually used the word I was trying to obscure. I was mortified by this, horrified. It is a word I loathe and I did everything in my power to make sure that version did not appear in the programme that was transmitted. I have here the note that was sent at the time to the production office and it says: ‘I didn’t use the N-word here but I’ve just listened through my headphones and it sounds like I did. Is there another take that we could use?'”
So from saying he never used the n-word and, more so, that the Mirror had gone too far, he was now saying that it sounded like he did – and that he had a note asking that the producers not to use it. He goes on to say, “Please be assured I did everything in my power to not use that word.” NO HE DID NOT! The best way to ensure that you don’t do something is to not to do it. Not to go right up to the point of doing it and then mumbling – so giving the impression – even to yourself – that you had said it! There was absolutely no reason to use that rhyme. There are others. But the use of that particular rhyme fits in with a pattern whereby Top Gear producers have been playing Chicken with the values the decency the rest of us keep to every day.