Jeremy Clarkson and selective outrage

16 Mar 2015

It looks like once again, Jeremy Clarkson has found himself in self-inflicted hot water after he punched his own producer, apparently over some steak. I expect nothing less from a man who constantly finds himself under media fire for his remarks calling for all public sector workers to be shot (I know Clarkson did not say this with serious intentions in mind), or calling an Asian man crossing a bridge a “slope”. Now I thought we would all be united in understanding that if someone punched their boss, they would be fired promptly – but no, for reasons that are beyond me a petition to reinstate him has managed to garner over 700,000 signatures. I find myself in a state of despair over the fact that this petition managed to gain mass support in such a short space of time.


Many petitions on more important and life-changing topics such as climate change, the privatisation of our NHSm or on a plethora of other topics such as mental health and political corruption, cannot even hope to gain that amount of support over a series of months. Somehow, a fairly large section of British society see fit that the reinstatement of a man who punched his own boss in the face is more important than the other issues mentioned above. I already see myself sliding into misanthropy. Indeed, I looked at the comments section of the Clarkson petition to find comments such as “Jeremy is a bastion of light in a dark PC world.” One would think with such rhetoric being deployed that we are signing a petition to free some kind of freedom fighter or political prisoner. But alas, no, such high and mighty language is being used for Jeremy Clarkson’s reinstatement.  


We live in a world where political corruption is rife, where currently there is an insidious group rampaging across the Middle East beheading innocents, and where shadowy deals such as TTIP attempt to dismantle many institutions that we hold dear in the relentless march for profit. However, I have never seen mass outrage on these subjects from the general public, instead I see people rallying behind a man who is very clearly in the wrong, because he is funny on a programme about cars.


Of course I am not insulting Top Gear’s loyal fan-base, I too enjoy watching it when I have the time, and was quite an avid viewer back in my A-Level years. Yet, even so I cannot find myself seething with rage or disgust at Jeremy Clarkson’s suspension. Somehow, many people have taken it as an assault on free speech from a ‘leftist’ broadcaster. No, Jeremy Clarkson has often sailed close to the edge with his comments, but that isn’t the reason for his suspension.


He punched his boss in the face, it’s that simple. It isn’t some insidious plot by the BBC to remove popular centre-right personalities in the name of some kind of glorious communist revolution. But many viewers have taken it as such, and it’s baffling.


This selective outrage on such a minor issue just goes to show how politically switched off we all are. On topics that actually have real and tragic human consequences, many of us just shrug and carry on with our lives without a care in the world for the rest of humanity. But once something happens to someone who entertains us, regardless of whether said person is in the right or wrong, many people rise up, frothing at the mouth with a fiery passion that I wish I could see deployed in other areas. I’m going to remain pessimistic on this issue, I still remember how many people I knew suddenly became obsessed with the ‘Royal Baby’, and many genuine issues simply had to take a back-seat. I can only hope that the BBC holds firm and doesn’t give in to the demands of this mob.

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