Remember when Britain was Great? When Britannia ruled the waves? When most of the world’s map bore the pink tinge of the British Empire? When a pansy was the name of a flower, and nothing more? When you could supposedly get into a fight with a TV producer and not face any consequences?
This seems to be what those behind the online petition to reinstate Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson are pining for.
For supporters of the #BringBackClarkson campaign, the BBC’s decision to suspend their employee for allegedly getting into a fight with a colleague and throwing a punch at him is, just like everything else the corporation does in relation to Clarkson, another example of “political correctness gone mad” in an era being ruined by a no-fun liberal elite. (It is also a claim that Clarkson denies.)
“I pay my TV license (sic) to ensure that irreverent people can express themselves. If you become boarding (sic) and politically correct, you may disappear BBC,” warns Veronique, a supporter of the petition on Change.org; a comment with which more than 1,000 people agree.
But what does this really mean? If the BBC’s actions with Clarkson are really “boarding”, is allegedly getting into a fight with a Top Gear producer supposed to be fun?
The truth is, whether statements like Veronique’s make any sense is irrelevant. Political correctness and the BBC go together like Ed Miliband and incompetence. The two have become synonymous with each other, no matter how much "evidence" suggests otherwise.
The Labour leader’s moments of skilled leadership will always be ignored by his opponents, as will the fact that the BBC, despite being positively deranged with political correctness, has employed Clarkson for many years and paid him millions.
But the idea that "political correctness has gone mad" is now part of peoples' default, instinctive reactions to news events, to the extent that it's hard to say what it even means any more. If suspending an employee for getting into a "fracas" with a colleague is PC gone mad, then is it sane to let people fight their workmates with no consequences?
Clarkson’s supporters' mistrust of the BBC and the liberal establishment goes far deeper than this incident. The presenter has survived making controversial comments about Mexicans, Burmese, and NHS nurses, while also managing to insult the government of Argentina over the Falklands.
His views are described as irreverent, funny and cheeky when they could just as easily be termed racist, offensive and stupid.
For his numerous supporters he is a throwback. A reminder of a nobler, more fictional time, when homosexuality didn’t exist, paedophiles hadn’t yet been created, women knew their place, and calling an Asian man a “slope” was just a way of being playful.
If the BBC follow up their suspension of Clarkson by firing him, he’ll almost certainly get another job and probably be paid more than the substantial salary he gets now.
But that won’t satisfy the supporters of the change.org petition. They want more than just to #BringBackClarkson, they want to take their country back too.
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