Saturday, 18 January 2014

Why the BBC should fire Jeremy Clarkson

‘Irreverent’ and ‘risque’ TV presenter and all-round smug arsehole Jeremy Clarkson has tweeted a photo of himself, asleep on a plane, while a colleague holds a sign with the deeply thoughtful witticism ‘Gay Cunt’ next to his head. 

Hold on to your funny bones, folks - here it is:



Let’s recap that - a BBC employee on a flight presumably paid for by the BBC en-route to filming a BBC TV show has taken a photo of a BBC presenter with the words ‘Gay Cunt’ next to his head. One of his mates – another BBC presenter – is gurning away in the background at the scene of extreme hilarity unfolding in front of him. 

Upon waking, said BBC presenter thought it would be absolutely hilarious to tweet the aforementioned photo to his 2.8m Twitter fans. 

But it’s OK – Clarkson has ‘profusely apologised’ for the whole sorry episode in a smug-laden banter-tastic statement that arrogantly excuses himself from any misbehaviour in the first place (‘I have deleted my last tweet and would like to apologise profusely to anyone who I upset while I was asleep’ – do fuck off). That’s OK then. Now he can go back to flying around the world, driving sexy cars, joking about the Nazi invasion of Poland or women in burkas, and wackily suggesting public sector workers be executed in front of their families

Sorry – not this time. Clarkson and whoever took the photo in the first place should be fired by the BBC. 

I’d assume the core audience of Top Gear, Clarkson’s main exposure on TV, in which he and the lads wank on about fast cars for an hour a week - would be young males; boys who look up to him, respect him, want to be like him and go to school or college, talk about the show and re-hash his jokes. 

In the crowd of 5m audience members will be a few bad people. Workplace bullies, school bullies, people who call things that are crap or worthless ‘gay’ because they’re too ignorant to think about what they’re saying. Let’s say 1000 of them are people like that. If 1000 bullies got up yesterday and went to 1000 schools, bandying about the phrase ‘Gay Cunt’ in front of 1000 young people struggling to come to terms with their sexuality and thinking they are somehow inferior to these hideous mini Jeremys, then Clarkson has probably successfully undone 1000 days of work by campaigners, teachers and decent parents who fight every day to stop this sort of behaviour in 12-year-olds, let alone people paid millions of pounds a year by our national broadcaster. 

I don’t have a job in the public eye like Clarkson does. I work in an office. I don’t have 2.8m Twitter followers or present a high-profile TV show. But I’m fairly sure if I tweeted a photo of one my colleagues holding up the words Gay Cunt next to my head, I would be pretty promptly fired, or severely disciplined. I imagine my £1m salary would be under question next time there were funding cuts. 

Oh sorry, that’s Jeremy’s salary, not mine. That’s excluding the £13m or so he’s been paid in dividends from the worldwide Top Gear brand. That salary’s paid for by the BBC, where nobody seems particularly bothered that one of their employees is consistently offending anyone who’s not one of his white, straight, middle-class millionaire lad-mates. Funny that – there was plenty of prompt action from the corporation last year when – shock, horror – Graham Norton dared to wear a World AIDS Day ribbon on his show. I haven’t seen one statement from the BBC condemning Clarkson’s cunt stunt. 

And sorry – even stripping away the blatant homophobia (and that’s what it is – I’m not going to entertain anyone saying anything else) - I’m not convinced a TV presenter paid by the state should be bandying about the word ‘cunt’ so freely either. 

Maybe I’ve lost my sense of humour. Banter! But I imagine the 41% of young gay people who have considered killing themselves because of homophobic bullying don’t find the whole sorry episode particularly hilarious either. 

Clarkson’s knobhead behaviour is timely. Stonewall has launched a campaign to try and end the use of gay as a derogatory term (that’s so gay/you’re so gay/gay cunt – that sort of thing). They’ve found that 99% of young gay people hear those phrases every day at school, and a third alter their future educational plans because of it. A big shout out to Jeremy’s mates for adding such a pithy and direct new insult to the classroom catalogue.

Maybe our National Treasure should consider a substantial donation (he could probably spare a tenner or two from those Top Gear license fee millions) to Stonewall’s work to ensure that his ‘profuse’ apology actually means something as he continues his well-paid quest to jet around the globe testing out how fast he can make a car move.


[UPDATE: here's what happened next]

46 comments:

  1. Very well presented argument and I appreciate your concern and accept that this was an inappropriate homophobic slur. But ultimately the post was clearly not posted by Clarkson and he did make a swift apology and removed the post, which must account for something.

    In response to his appropriate apology, you simply say for him to 'fuck off' when that apology should justifiably be taken into consideration that Clarkson is regretful of the post occurring, regardless of your preconceptions of him as homophobic.

    A warning/reprimand maybe, but an instant firing before an investigation into the situation as to who did what seems irrational.

    Unlike Graham Norton's use of the ribbon, Clarkson's post doesn't actually breach the relevant editorial guidelines that "The BBC must remain independent and distanced from government initiatives, campaigners, charities and their agendas, no matter how apparently worthy the cause or how much their message appears to be accepted or uncontroversial", so to compare the two events is irrelevant as there are simply different issues being raised here.

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    1. Why was the post 'clearly not posted by Clarkson'. It's from his twitter account. Sure, someone could have swiped HIS phone while he was sleeping, guess his password lock (surely someone in the public eye would password protect their phone), take the photo then use his twitter app to post AS HIM... but why would we assume this?
      It's far more plausible that the photo was taken and he tweeted it himself afterwards.

      And if the above is the case, then his apology is mildly sarcastic. "...who I upset while I was asleep". It isn't so much the act of the photo being taken that is the problem. It's that it was posted to the world from his account. That bit he didn't do while he was asleep.

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    2. I accept it may have been Clarkson, but I think the very nature of the joke could be seen to equally imply that it was someone else on his phone. As much as your lengthly play-by-play of taking someone phone may make it seem unlikely, to take an unlocked phone whilst someone is asleep and post a tweet is actually a very easily done task.

      This stands to emphasise my point that an investigation should be made before any firing should occur and unjustified accusations are made.

      The issue being raised here is the use of a homophobic slur and although it may not be clear who posted the photo, I think it unfair to target Clarkson primarily when it it safe to assume that he didn't write it himself.

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    3. It is especially true that it's an easily done task when the photo already qualifies that someone else had access to his phone and the ability to take a photo on it (albeit that this can be done on a locked phone).

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    4. I don't even get why that is bad it's only a silly sign and a silly picture you do know that tv presenters can have a mess around now and again they don't always have to professional

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    5. Jack, if you want to know why there is a fuss, try reading the damn post. It spells it out very clearly, including the 41% suicide-attempt-rate. Read the fucking post.

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  2. it must be exhausting being so easily offended.

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    1. You have no idea. Right now I'm faxing Channel 4 because there's some women athletes on.

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    2. It must be nice to have no feelings.

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  3. shut the fuck up and stop being an old fanny! get a life clarkson brings a ray of humour into an otherwise out of date prudish bbc. use your energy to do something productive rather than insulting somebody who is clearly funnier more loved and just better than you. i apologise in advance for how frail your feelings are.

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    1. 'Old fanny' will be my go-to insult from now onwards.

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  4. Saying that using the word "gay" (as a derogatory term) is wrong is just plain retarded.
    The word originally meant something completely different to homosexual but when it evolved into meaning that, no one argued it.
    Words evolve, it happens. I've heard people refer to something as "gay" (meaning bad) and it is no way a dig at homosexuals.
    People need to learn about context.
    The English language is versatile and surprise surprise, there are a lot of words out there that are spelt the same but mean different things.
    Polish, for example.
    "That man is Polish" (he is from Poland) versus "That man is using polish" (he is using the cleaning product)...
    "That man is gay" (he is a homosexual) versus "That man's bike is gay" (his bike is rubbish).
    It's really not hard to distinguish the difference in meanings.

    On the topic of Jeremy Clarkson, I've never really liked him so I'm up for the BBC firing him. I agree that he has said some offensive things during his career and it's not far to the people they have fired in the past because of minor offences (especially in comparison to what he regularly says/does).

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    1. I understand language evolves and I see your point, but your examples don't stack up. 'Polish' isn't offensive or loaded with innuendo. If he had used the word 'black' instead of 'gay' would you say he was still acting innocently? Black has multiple meanings...

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    2. Also - retarded?! I think everyone stopped using that one in about 1999.

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    3. My example was the first word that popped into my head in all honesty, I wasn't making a comparison about words that are/aren't offensive. People take offence in anything these days, so I bet the word Polish is offensive to someone.
      If I was to use a closer example, one word I can think of is "bitch". A word used for female dogs and a word that is sometimes used "against" women. I don't find the word offensive, personally.
      And yes I would. People already get offended about the use of the word "black" and again, it's just as stupid.
      I'm not racist or homophobic and use both words at some point or another without meaning to offend anyone and without using them in any kind of malicious way.
      I'm a straight white female, and while there aren't many things that can be said offensively about someone being straight, I've heard my fair share of "offensive" things about women and about being white. I don't get offended by any of them.

      I CAN see why gay people would be offended by the "new" meaning of the word "gay" but if I was gay, I'd just listen to the context.

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    4. Nope, retarded is still being used.
      It is in England anyway...

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    5. *Which apparently you're from, so I'm surprised you think it's stopped being used.

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    6. Thanks for your comments.

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    7. The problem is you may not get offended by such language but other people do. Using such language can constitute a hate crime, hate crimes are there so people can ensure that how they identify themselves cannot come under abuse. The way you identify yourself is pivotally important, not just to your self-esteem, but on more sub- conscious levels, how you can treat other people for instance. As the article clearly highlighted, people can alter their entire life plans due to a word they use to identify themselves, being used derogatively. If enough people feel that their self- identity is being abused due to such language then we should show empathy, have respect for their wishes and legalise the prevention of such a word. This is what has been done. The evolution of language is all lovely, but gay didn't represent a historically persecuted group before bow, surely their self- identity is more important than protecting a word?
      Also we may not need to understand how people feel when they hear such language, in many respects we never can, I can never understand the comments you may hear about being a woman, but that doesn't mean I think those comments aren't offensive and shouldn't be said. Similarly other women may be offended by the same comments you have walked off- their views must be respected too.
      Also its correct no-one uses the word 'retarded' any more, it's pretty sickening would be the reason why.

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    8. You expressed that much more elegantly than me!

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  5. Are you upset? Did you go out of your way to get offended by something? And do people avoid you in the workplace....

    Then wait no further as the internet is here for you....

    You can bitch, whine, moan, make yourself even angrier about a subject which would have previously only mildly ticked you off....

    Waste no time folks...its all here, just a click away!

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  6. Such banter from such bantersome privileged straight white males. Calm down dear it's only bantery banter...oh so my banterness wears you down??? Don't be so gaaaaay. Man up and be a jolly banterer.

    The sooner clarkson and his hubristic reverents are out of the picture the better.

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  7. Surely educated individuals who are in the public eye can use common sense and think in advance wether something will be taken offensively. No one forced Clarkson into the spotlight, he made a choice to pursue a career in the public eye. Unfortunately that level of fame and influence comes with responsibility. To suggest that the world is simply too soft and needs to toughen up is utter nonsense when we are openly a culture influenced by social media and television. Granted he may have had no control over the photo being taken, but a choice was made to post it. Quite frankly wether it was him or one of his friends, that entire social circle should be held accountable. Wether or not offence was intended, anyone with an ounce of common sense could easily predict that a post like that could be misread and/or encourage a negative response. I personally couldn't care less about swearing, but lets not get it twisted here. We all know exactly what is meant when you refer to someone as a GAY anything. Lets all stop being so naive! I don't think Clarkson should be fired, but I think this should act as platform for someone like himself to speak out about negative gay slurs. If someone with his fame and influence cant use this as a tool to encourage a more positive attitude towards the LGBT community then thats disappointing.

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  8. I think a new phrase should be introduced into the vocabulary of the general population. Instead of saying "That TV show about old men blathering on about cars is a pile of tired old bollocks!" We should say "That TV show about old men blathering on about cars is a pile of old Jeremy Clarksons!" Lets see how he likes being identified as a derogatory adjective. If he'd used the 'N' word instead of 'gay' he'd have been sacked before the plane had landed. This whole thing is just a complete load of Jeremy Clarksons!!!

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  9. Well said. Clarkson should be shot in front of his family (well if its good enough for millions of public sector workers...)..

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  10. Fire all the BBC!! Fire the people that live next door to the BBC too!

    Also, fire everyone else just in case.

    Oh and fire me please!!!

    Sense of humour? You're fired!

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  11. I sometimes wonder whether I'm just numb, because there are so many things I find it hard to get so worked up about. This seems to me a trivial prank, and fairly amusing.

    I'm gay and I really don't like this word grab by the homo 'community'. Feeling queer? Oh no you're not! That's our word now. You can feel sick and be happy with it. Popping out for a fag? You can stop talking like an' all. I know for sure you are not leaving the house on behalf of a gentleman of a certain persuasion, you are going for a cigarette so bloody well say so. And you think that car is gay? Nope, that's our word too. That car is shit.

    Why is language evolution a one way street for gay men? It can evolve, yes, but only as far as gay people say it's allowed to. Any why? Because of all the people we know not to be over sensitive or easily offended, it's gay people. And don't ask for scientific proof of that, that's just being homophobic. How dare you suggest we are just like you lowly straights. Only we can say we're all equal, and only at times it suits us. And how dare you suggest that your language evolution isn't because all you do all day long is think about what word you can steal from the gay community. We know you're at it and that it's more important to you than your family. We are the only people who know what's offensive. And if we say it's offensive, it's offensive, mkay?

    To me, it makes us look like a bunch of neurotic and incredibly imbalanced old queens.

    Or, in the new parlance, a bit gay.

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    1. Hi Paul, thanks for your well-thought out comment.

      I agree with you to an extent, and my aim wasn't to sound like a neurotic old queen (at least not more than usual). I don't think I was suggesting we reclaim the word or that we should stop others using it because it's 'ours'. My horror was that I'd recently read the Stonewall research that had found a disturbingly high number of teens (gay and not gay) were being bullied using 'gay'. So badly, in some cases, that they attempted suicide, were self-harming, or altering their life plans.
      I'm trying to explain this better in a new blog post, but I hope that makes sense.

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    2. I look forward to reading it :-)

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  12. i have just seen this story along its viral path. i took the time to read the comments and find it interesting that "gay" is the focal point of discussion. the phrase used (and i think it does need repeating) was "gay cunt".

    i understand banter, i engage in banter and am aware of its team building qualities- but it isn't my default setting on public opinion, i know when it isn't appropriate. this situation, i know, is inappropriate. this is where "banter" becomes a problem- it's not just pranking between like-minded tv personalities and their crew to keep their jollies up. being, as it is now, an event for public scrutiny, accountability needs to be established as responsibility is nowhere to be found. even james may has sacrificed his responsibility for being included in the gang of ignorance marauding as a television crew.

    when it comes to being offended, i am always mildly irritated by anyone who thinks that because they aren't offended, no-one else should be. as if they are the standard bearer on "how to behave responsibly and reasonably". REALITY CHECK- IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. the world doesn't revolve because of your opinion, and doesn't ring you up to find out if it's ok before it happens. this is just the latest in a string of controversial issues involving clarkeson. to find that he would be sacked as a result of this wouldn't surprise me or be anywhere near unfair- he may not be accountable for the use of signage, but he is accountable for the use of his phone whether he is asleep or not. the people accountable for this can be found at bbc headquarters who employ a gang of ignorance to make a television show and allow them to behave with such lack of class and taste, which, almost always, is deeply offensive to those of us with morals, maturity and an awareness of the wider implications.

    finally, "cunt" is the worst of our language when used to describe someone. women have, for too long, been secondary to whimsical, infantile, power thirsty males' aggressive, and short-sighted, stance on gender hierarchy. this is playground assumption that hasn't been challenged. "gay cunt" (i wonder if richard hammond was holding the sign?) in this context, just gives the unchallenged, uneducated masses more ridiculousness with which to justify their assumptions.

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    1. Hmm. I wonder whether calling someone a cock, dick, dickhead, penis, fuck stick, knobhead or any other male genitalia themed insult is also sexist.

      Cunt, rightly or wrongly, has long since evolved from a only being a swear word for a woman's bits'n'pieces. It is highly unlikely Jeremy's friends are calling him a lesbian vagina.

      If the sign said "heterosexual dickhead", what would that mean?

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  13. Like it or not, Top Gear is the flag ship show for the BBC, and is by far one of the most watched programs in the world today. If Clarkson went down, Top Gear would go, and very shortly the BBC would follow. If your happy for the BBC to go down, then by all means keep slating

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  14. "And sorry – even stripping away the blatant homophobia (and that’s what it is – )"

    Lol, no its not, you obviously have no idea what constitutes homophobia. Two words written on a piece of paper held beside someone sleeping means absolutely nothing.

    The BBC wont fire him, he makes them far too much money

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    1. Did you even read anything I wrote?

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  17. Ridiculous article. People like Clarkson who like a laugh and granted, are sometimes a little close to the bone are not the problem. It's people like yourself that believe that anything that causes the slightest offence constitutes a hate crime and given the choice would outlaw any derogatory phrase or symbol that are the problem. In trying to protect the world from everything we leave them woefully unprepared for the reality of what life actually is. The world has become obsessed with being P.C and we are getting to the point where everything has the potential to offended. Throwing around stupid stats about how many young gay people consider suicide is irrelevant to this argument. A picture was posted, he realised some were offended and took it down, end of story. Maybe you would be better served saving your mock outrage for when you are at home and if you are so easily offended simply stay off Twitter and only watch cbeebies. Probkem solved.

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  19. Aren't you being just a little precious and oversensitive about this, I don't like Clarkson, in fact I hate him, but people like you who become outraged at nothing I also find quite irritating.

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