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The ‘shame’ should be all yours, Clarkson

By December 24, 2022No Comments



As the latest Netflix episodes of Harry & Meghan hit our screens, Jeremy Clarkson was spewing misogynistic bile in a national paper, reminding everyone of precisely why Haz and Meg left the UK, writes Aisling Keenan


Last week, I wrote about the first three episodes of the Meghan Markle and Prince Harry documentary on Netflix. I was left with mixed feelings, I was all at once enamoured by them and alienated by them. I didn’t know what to feel. I didn’t feel anything close to hatred, or to anger, or even any strong feeling at all – namely because (a) I do not know these people personally and (b) what they do with their lives doesn’t affect me in the least.

This week, after watching the final three of six episodes, I feel differently. And actually, the episodes themselves have little to do with my new feelings. Instead, of course, I am driven to outrage, sadness and a sinking sense of ‘here we are again’, as another man in a position of power has been permitted to give his ill-formed, ill-intentioned and frankly disgusting opinion in a public forum, and the media’s treatment of women continues to be a disgrace.

Yes, the combative former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson is, indeed, at it again. 

I’m sure most of us have read the misogynistic horribleness by now, but in case you hadn’t seen the Sun column paragraph that inspired a staggering and IPSO record-breaking 17,500 (and more since, I’m sure) complaints:

A day or so later, Clarkson offered a typically insincere ‘apology’ that wasn’t an apology at all. It contained the phrases ‘oh dear’ and ‘clumsy’ as if what he’d said was that he’d forgotten to pick up his gardening gloves after he’d finished pruning his roses, woopsie! And not that he’d said he’d like a woman in the public eye who has openly discussed her mental health struggles to be walked through a street so that people could throw literal sh*t at her. Bizarre and dangerous behaviour from anyone, let alone someone with a high profile column in a national newspaper. And yet, as I said above: Here we are again.

Imagine feeling so strongly about someone you don’t know personally that you can, with confidence, say the words “I hate her on a cellular level”. Imagine that for a moment. And imagine feeling so empowered as a man, a media personality, a TV presenter, a ‘national treasure’ or whatever Clarkson thinks he is, that you wrote those words down and submitted them to an editor, who then thought so little of what they read that they clicked ‘publish’.

There were grievous errors of judgment at every stage here. Clarkson’s vile opinion not so much an error of judgment as a stark reminder of how men feel about women at times. He may be backpedaling now in response to public outcry, but it’s his opinion. The errors started when he wrote it down and submitted it for publication. And the errors continued when whoever edited his piece read those words and thought ‘we’ll print this’. I might be cynical, but I know that the motivation behind printing that was financial as much as it was anything else. The editor could see clicks and pound signs in every blink of their eyes, and so it got through. To call them errors feels reductive. This just should not have happened.

And, you might ask, why would they throw their cherished columnist under the bus like that? But you see. They didn’t. Clarkson won’t be fired, he won’t be cancelled, he won’t lose money, he won’t lose sleep. He issued the apology and probably had a bit of a giggle with his pals over a whiskey about the brouhaha he caused, and he’ll be on his merry way. THAT is the major issue we’re facing here: Continuing to let these things be brushed under the giant #BeKind rug that exists on the internet.

Thankfully, there was immediate and strong backlash to his comments, including a response from his own daughter Emily, who sided with Meghan, saying on her Instagram Story: “I want to make it very clear that I stand against everything that my dad wrote about Meghan Markle and I remain standing in support of those that are targeted with online hatred.”

More than 60 MPs in the UK wrote to the Sun’s editor, Victoria Newton, to demand an apology from Clarkson for the column, and to see action taken against him. In their letter, they referenced the fact that in the past, Meghan Markle had received credible death threats, and condemned his contribution to what they said is an “unacceptable climate of hatred and violence”.

As soon as I’d read what Clarkson had written, and as soon as I’d given a second’s thought to how it came to be published by The Sun, I decided then and there that whatever Harry and Meghan chose to do by way of distancing themselves from that system, they were in the right. 

However disingenuous the stories of discontent in the royal establishment might be and whatever the nuances of the undoubtedly multi-faceted story of how it all played out, their decision to get the hell away from the British media, their ‘sources’ and their god awful, hatred-inciting columnists was the right one.