Clarkson v the Unions

Not really my area but I had to say something. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of the details , and they are all over the web if you want them.

There was outrage among various union leaders and their supporters that Jeremy Clarkson, the well-known Larger-than-Life petrol-head, had made a very poor joke on TV the other day that public service workers who went on strike should be shot, and calls that he should accordingly be made to apologise, be sacked by the BBC, and be made to work as a care worker etc etc. Furthermore he should be prosecuted (although they rather wisely didn’t say for what).

This all misses a number of points:

  • JC is a  petrol-head, who does this sort of thing for a living, and makes a very good living out of it too,  so some people, in fact quite a lot of people, must find it entertaining.
  • It was a joke, and a poor one, which I think he accepts.
  • It followed his praising the strikes (for clearing the roads for his use) and was expressed as being “in order to show BBC balance”.
  • The joke was apparently cleared with his producer first.

These are minor points and I wouldn’t have bothered writing this for their sake only.

However, there are more important ones – why there should be a knee-jerk reaction that if somebody says something unpopular they should be prosecuted, and what has happened to freedom of speech, tolerance and moderation? And how can union leaders etc have such a poor sense of reality as to suggest all this nonsense? Do they realise how silly they are making themselves look, and how distracting this has been from the purpose of the strike, which was to oppose significant alterations in working conditions for millions of workers? Or don’t they want us to talk about that?

Either way, not a very glorious episode on either side. But a bit worrying if you are concerned about freedom under the law.