Friday, 2 December 2011

Jeremy Clarkson, Justin Bieber and Mob Justice

Jeremy Clarkson in London, this week
"Frankly, I'd have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families. I mean, how dare they go on strike when they have these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living?"

So said Jeremy Clarkson, commenting on BBC’s ‘The One Show’ about the massive public sector strikes in the UK this week.

Since then, the BBC has received 21,335 complaints, one of the biggest unions here, Unison, called for him to be sacked and the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, recalled all of his diplomatic staff from London in protest.

Jeremy said he was taken out of context…

… and he was.

A knee-jerk, uninformed and dare I say ignorant reaction to his comments, above, would of course lead to condemnation, because when reading it out of context of the rest of the conversation, it appears as though he’s making a grossly insensitive, highly inflammatory statement calling for the murder of millions of people.

But he’s not doing that at all.

As right-wing as he may be, if you look at his comments in context, you’ll see that he’s simply exaggerating some of the more scathing views on the strikes.

Before he blurted out the above, he said: "I think they [the strikes] have been fantastic. Absolutely. London today has just been empty. Everybody stayed at home, you can whizz about, restaurants are empty. It's also like being back in the 70s. It makes me feel at home somehow."

Then he said: "But we have to balance this though, because this is the BBC…” – and went on to make the comments about execution.

Whether or not you like Clarkson, it would be na├»ve to think he’s not a very intelligent man, and he knew just what he was saying (at least on this occasion).

Guaranteed, gilt-edged pensions? He’s mocking the government, there. It’s a lampooning of the pensions nightmare that’s going to affect millions of people in years to come – which is one of the reasons why there were so many people out on the streets.

The ‘austerity’ measures in the UK are going to see an astonishing 710,000 people from the public sector made unemployed in the next few years. He knows that.

Absolutely, there were people caught up in the disruption of the strikes, being unable to do what they wanted to do on that day (despite having weeks of advanced warning) who were blaming the strikers (who are trying to protect their futures) for their misery – and Jeremy Clarkson just took that to the extreme.

It would be a travesty if he were sacked. He shouldn’t even have had to apologise.

How many of these people who complained even watched the clip of him talking, on The One Show, or looked at the context of the transcript before angrily prodding their keyboards and emailing their indignation?

It’s the same sort of uninformed, mass hysteria that caused Monty Python’s The Life of Brian to be banned by councils across the UK when it was first released in the late 1970s. Without even watching it, people were condemning it. They didn’t understand or try to understand what it was about, but that didn’t stop them from vocalising their revulsion – a revulsion which was formed in the minds of others, projected at them and taken onboard without question.

Pop hero or Antichrist?
How many people criticise Justin Bieber, without having ever taken the time to listen to his music? I can’t say I’m his biggest fan, but he’s clearly an extremely talented singer and he’s become one of the most popular performers in the history of humanity.

We’re so quick to judge people and situations without educating ourselves first… prejudice, based on mob rule.

I remember a story, a few years ago, about a ‘vigilante’ in the UK who daubed ‘PEDO’ in red paint across someone’s front door and windows…

It was the house of a paediatric doctor – a woman - who’d studied and practiced for years to save children’s’ lives.

Ignorance and blind condemnation is dangerous.