Jeremy Clarkson, a man for whom I have very little time, has written an article about people I don’t care about in a newspaper that I will never read. That’s not a great line to start a blog, yet I know all about the article. It was all over twitter with people highlighting what a nasty and tasteless piece of work it was. Even Clarkson’s daughter has said that she disagrees with everything that her father has written.
In my opinion the article was awful, misogynistic and distasteful but then that’s the UK’s gutter press for you. I’m not sure what the woman has done to earn such vitriol (and I don’t want to know). How it got passed by the editor is anybody’s business though I suspect that the paper is revelling in the publicity it is getting.
The irony is that I would have known nothing about the article if it hadn’t been for social media. Fuel has been thrown on the fire and the article has now received more than 17,500 complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, more than any other article in the history of the organisation and more than the total number of complaints for the previous year.
Calls have been made for Clarkson to lose his various jobs though I would be surprised if that happened. He still has a huge following who may well indeed agree with him. The conjoined spectres of free speech and cancel-culture have raised their heads again. The Bruges group, never one to hold back on its opinion, has come out with guns blazing. It claims that asking for Clarkson’s head is an attack on free speech.
It is right, it is an attack, yet so is its reaction to that of ‘some MPs and activists’. Free speech cuts both ways. If somebody says something obnoxious and someone else calls it out then that is both free speech. That includes asking for that person to lose their job. However free you want your speech to be (and I would like it to be as free as possible) you must realise that words can hurt and offensive ones cause offence. Free speech is not without consequences. Just because you can say or write something doesn’t mean you have to.
Having said that, the best thing to do with Clarkson (he has form) is not to watch his programmes and not to buy the Sun.