Saturday, 7 February 2009

Is sorry enough?

Part of the reason for doing this blog was to give me a bit of mind space to work out my views, as sometimes I find myself dithering between opinions, trying to appreciate all sides of an argument. This tendency towards balance may be a positive trait in some respects, but is damned annoying when called upon to come off the fence over some topic or other. Besides, those people that stood out in history are the ones that knew firmly what they stood for. From Ghandi to Ghengis Khan their methods may have been different but their resolve was strong.

The burning topic of the day causing me angst are the remarks of Jeremy Clarkson. He called the Prime Minister Gordon Brown a "one eyed, Scottish idiot" in front of the camera for the whole world to see and hear. As he said it you could tell he realised that he had made a mistake, but it was too late. What was the mistake and does this matter?

The issue doesn't seem to be around the term idiot, as I think anyone in high office is fair target for that kind of comment. Scottish, was this a description or term of abuse? Would he have said black idiot or Jewish idiot? So perhaps this was racist. Was "one eyed" meant as an abuse, if so then was it disablist? Its a good job for Jeremy that Gordon isn't a woman as I think that would have been another insult box he'd have ticked.

Aaaargh! do I have an opinion on this? I think he was stupid and it was personally offensive to Mr Brown. I think that prejudice is bad, but I also think that there is a distinction between the throw away remark of a person who makes their living being controversial and the hate filled invective of the racist right. Yes its a bad example but I doubt whether anybody woke up this morning saying..."you know what, I used to like our Northern cousin but that Jeremy has turned me round. Scottish people are stupid and as for the ones that have only one eye..."

I refuse to draw a comparison between this and the Ross/Brand incident. Brand is a comedian who makes a living from walking the tightrope of decency and is bound to fall off at times. We need comedians who take risks or it all becomes a bit too safe. Clarkson isn't a comedian, just an opinionated tit with an audience and a TV presence. Possibly he will have learned something from this, but I don't think there are any lessons for the rest of us as its old, old ground. Jeremy is going to have to apologise to the PM, to visually impaired people, Scots and all those others who have been bothered by this and I think that should be the end of it.

Even as I hit the button to post this I find myself wanting to go back and water down the text to an even more middle of the road stance. I am going to have to fight the urge and do it though or there is no point to this exercise.

Until next time...

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