Jeremy Clarkson has recently got in trouble for saying that public sector strikers should be shot. In case you missed it – or have only heard the offending line and not its full context – here it is, as reported on BBC News:
As someone who wants to work in the media – especially television – the controversial issue of political-correctness is certainly worrying.
Do we live in a nation where we’re too scared of offending someone? Is this justified? And does this make a mockery of freedom of speech?
I don’t particularly like Clarkson, and I certainly don’t like Top Gear. But I really hate that he’s been forced to apologise. Let me explain.
In my opinion, the comments Clarkson made on The One Show aren’t offensive if you take them in their proper context.
These sorts of remarks are made on Have I got News for You? and Mock the Week; Ian Hislop (who has had his own fair share of trouble as editor of Private Eye) frequently commented on the BBC’s impartiality throughout the last general election.
It’s also interesting to note in the above video that the Prime Minster thought Clarkson’s wisecrack was ill-considered. Ed Milliband agrees:
As does anyone trying to get support from the public. They don’t want to offend or alienate possible voters. And forget Jeremy Clarkson- imagine the outcry if the PM said that strikers should be shot! He’d be compared to the BNP regime in seconds.
But just like Charlie Brooker, Ricky Gervais and Frankie Boyle (and I’m a fan of the former two – not particularly the latter), you know what you get with Clarkson. He’s there to incite debate, not win the support of every individual in Britain!
John Cleese has recently stated that comedy is in an unhealthy place due to this over-sensitivity, where 5% of the audience are offended; “meanwhile, the other 95% of the audience are howling with laughter. Well what are you going to say? Say ‘No, we’re going to take all that pleasure away from the 95% and protect the 5%’?
You can read more on that here.
And let’s take into consideration that Clarkson also made a remark about people who commit suicide. But because it was apologised for on the night, this hasn’t been taken further, while strikers offended by his infamous comment are calling for him to be sacked! I don’t get the logic.
I don’t wish to hurt anyone, and I think there is a line that we shouldn’t cross. But this line changes all the time – in fact, from person to person! I do think, however, that being over-sensitive is a big issue… one with very few satisfying resolutions.