Thoughts on Clarkson-gate

It’s quite risky to offer long-winded commentary on a rapidly developing situation, so I’ll be brief. Jeremy Clarkson is alleged to have thrown a punch at a junior producer, for not bringing him a sandwich quickly enough. I’m not going to spend too much time talking about this specific allegation – after all, at this point that’s all it is, an allegation.

First, my opinion of the man himself. Jeremy Clarkson is an extraordinarily talented motoring journalist. He possess a vast knowledge of cars, and the erudition to impart that knowledge to an intelligent, discerning audience.

That’s not what we associate Clarkson with, though. We associate Clarkson with clowning around, trying to see whether a Bugatti is faster than a tiger shark in zero gravity or whatever. Clarkson is a man whose every moronic blunder is met with cheers, and whose every racially-charged aside is hailed as a victory against the nebulous tyranny of political correctness: that ghastly force which seeks to deny middle-aged white blokes their god-given right to bloody well drive around the town in a bloody fast car by Christ.

This morning I heard him described as Russell Brand for the middle classes. A fair comparison, it seems to me (maybe you might throw Boris Johnson in there, as well); both are clever people, and both cynically command the adulation of morons. I hadn’t imagined that this adulation to be so strong that almost half-a-million people would be willing to overlook him throwing a punch at a co-worker. I had imagined – in retrospect, somewhat naively – that this sort of behaviour would cement his position as an international pariah, along with Mohammed Emwazi and Jean-Claude Juncker. More fool me.

Look, I get that a lot of people like watching Top Gear. I really do. I occasionally enjoy videos in which household pets attempt to play musical instruments. I appreciate that not everything has to be cerebral. But that’s not the question at hand. The question is whether a man who assaults a co-worker should be allowed to continue his job.

And the answer is, according to the hundreds of thousands of people who have signed Guido Fawke’s petition: yes. An emphatic yes. An unconditional yes.  And by the way, anyone who imagines that hundreds of thousands of people isn’t a significant number – you’ve clearly never attempted to create a petition to change something. The petition is so popular that it has, at the time of writing, broken change.org’s website. That’s fucking popular.

“He may be a dick,” runs one explanation, “but he’s our dick.” Curious. I cannot stress enough how self-evidently idiotic I consider this logic to be – that any wrong can be overlooked, provided that we belong to the same group as the wrongdoer. But I had not imagined it widespread outside of Chelsea Football Club. Incidentally, I wonder what team Clarkson himself supports?

No fucking way.

This isn’t the first Clarkson-related bullshit episode. This person has evidently been mollycoddled by the public – and, as a consequence, the BBC’s management – to the point where he thinks he can do pretty much whatever he pleases. If only there were some sort of precedent for this sort of thing, so that we might avoid future catastrophes.

I would like to think that the BBC might have learned from the Saville affair, and will now grow some balls, tell the half a billion dimwits to go and fuck themselves and that there are some acts of criminal stupidity which will result in a dismissal – and prosecution – no matter how many people would like to watch the perpetrator attempt to cross the English channel on an upturned Cadillac.  But I doubt it.

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