Thoughts on #Clarksongate

As a preacher I am all too aware that my words will be weighed and judged by both people and God.  For this reason, the Bible warns, few should rush to preach or teach. (James 3 v.1) To open one’s mouth to any kind of audience is a privilege, and should never be taken as licence to ride roughshod over those who hear.  These rules apply in any exchange, even a private conversation between two individuals. However, the greater the audience the greater the responsibility of the one who addresses it, surely?

For this reason public personalities bear particular responsibility. This is why a prominent footballer is under police investigation here in the UK for an alleged racial slur. This is why Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA was censured for suggesting that such a thing was unimportant. This is also why ‘laddish’ TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson should be brought to book for his indefensible and outrageous comments on national television. In a discussion of a strike by public sector workers in the UK yesterday he said that  ‘I’d have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.’  No matter that this is not the first time he has said such outrageous things. No matter that the BBC has apologised on his behalf. The viewing public should express their revulsion at such talk by denying such a presenter the one thing he most needs – an audience.

Previous outbursts from this presenter which have included sexist slurs and derisions of disability have been glossed over by broadcasters and audience alike. ‘That’s just the way he is’ appears to be the justification. Would we say that about a preacher who preached hatred and incited discord, I wonder?  At the height of the News of the World’s fall from grace thousands of tweets per minute were pouring into the twittersphere urging those whose advertising kept the newspaper afloat to withdraw their business. They did exactly that, and the newspaper was no more.

Is it time for those who pay their licence fee for such broadcasts as Clarkson’s to declare that their money should not license hateful and destructive television, I wonder?