So once again it appears that Jeremy Clarkson is in trouble with the political correctness police about things he has recently said in interviews. He is being roundly lambasted from all sides as apparently, he thinks people that exercise their legal right to strike should be executed. In front of their families no less. I heard this and was also made aware by the stream of vitriol on my social networking sites of choice. Blimey, I thought, maybe Jezza really is a right wing idiot that can't see both sides of the story. Maybe whatever speck of journalistic integrity he may have had has now disappeared into the ether now he is minted and has arguably one of the best jobs on television. However, after looking at he situation a little more closely, I think mountains have been made of molehills.
If you have not seen the interview in question, I refer you to the full transcript available on the BBC website here : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15993558
Now I didn't see it, but I have had the opportunity to read the transcript and watch the video back on YouTube and it's plainly obvious that he is taking the mickey and attempting (however ham fistedly) to be satirical.
Also, don't you think that the producers of the One Show could have done a bit better on getting a "celebrity" guest on the show to give a balanced opinion on the national strike than Jeremy Clarkson? It's the one of the Beeb's flagship shows for goodness sake. I can imagine the conversation now :
"Strikes are on today, we really need to comment on it in a fair and balanced way."
"We should get a good guest with opinions."
"Good idea! Like who?"
"How about someone like Ricky Tomlinson? He's got some history with strikes and all that. I bet he can give us a good idea what this is all about.Talk a bit of sense to the layman. I'll call his agent."
~~~~ 5 minutes later ~~~~
"Unfortunately Ricky is unavailable. Good news is I saw Clarkson in the canteen just now. Let's get him on, he's bound to say something ham fistedly satirical which will be misconstrued. Be good for viewing figures."
"Jobs a good 'un. Two hour lunch for us then..."
Also in this interview he also made a comment about people that commit suicide are selfish and has come under attack from mental health organisations. The One Show decided to apologise for that remark at the end of the show, but not for the comments made on striking. Why one and not the other? Is mental health more important than dwindling pensions? Either apologise for all or none. Or even better have a word with your producers. Seriously, Clarkson has form. He is middle aged, doesn't believe in global warming and is a self styled grumpy old man. That's his modus operandi. Maybe they really should have got Ricky Tomlinson or a plethora of retired Labour politicians or someone from one of the unions that had no desire to be hamfistedly satirical, just give their point and answer questions sensibly. Then you could have had someone from the Department of Work and Pensions and have a five minute debate. You might even educate the viewer. Anything but Clarkson. The BBC deserve what they get for that.
Now you may be thinking that I'm over defending Jeremy Clarkson, but I don't think so. I'm not a massive fan of him personally, I watch Top Gear because I like to look at cars I can never afford. I don't watch it for him in particular. The essence of this blog is that this is one example of many where one organisation selectively choose sentences or parts of quotes that will advance their cause or causes. It's been happening for time immemorial and like the aforementioned incident will disappear into the news cycle eventually. On the next episode of Top Gear Clarkson will say something pithy (albeit very probably scripted) then proceed to tell us about the latest Ferrari. End of sports.
I would like to state at this point that I support the strikes. As the gap between rich and poor widens daily, the vast majority should do all that they can to let the government know they aren't happy with the current situation. We have a right to free expression in this country and should use it if we feel the need to.
The world we live in is becoming more and more busy. We hear half a quote and take it as bona fide. Then the opinionists get involved and it's hard to see the wood for the trees. The wood is there though, you just need a good axe to cut away the chaff.