Op Ed: No One Should Be Above The Law

Republibot 4.0
Republibot 4.0's picture

Since there doesn't seem to be much going on today, I'm going to rant for a few moments about the firing of Top Gear co-host Jeremy Clarkson.  I realize an auto/comedy show has absolutely nothing to do with science fiction, but there's a moral to this story.

For those of you who haven't heard, Jeremy Clarkson, the crusty curmudgeon with the outspoken motor mouth, was on his "final warning" from the BBC when he got into a snit over not being able to get a hot steak for dinner at a hotel, and took it out on one of the program's producers by verbally berating him at high volume for some twenty minutes, then punching him in the face.  The BBC suspended Clarkson pending an investigation, and decided that they had no choice but to sack him.

I say, bravo, BBC.  Congratulations for sticking to your guns.

Almost immediately, Clarkson's fans--and they are legion--mounted a campaign of support and abuse of their own, sending petitions via tank to the BBC as well as taking to the Twitterverse to heap aspersions on the unfortunate producer whose greatest crime was to be the one to tell Jeremy that the hotel kitchen was closed for the night.  To his credit, Clarkson came out to ask people to lay off the producer, it wasn't his fault.

Now, some may think that the BBC just cut their own throat.  Clarkson apparently did, commenting just prior to his firing "The BBC have f*cked themselves over this one."  Top Gear is a media phenominon worth quite a heap of money to the Beeb.  But some things should not be about money.

Clarkson has offended many people over his career with the show, including entire countries.  He's a very funny man, but in a mean spirited and snobbish manner.  What he's like in person, I can't say, and since he plays for our side of the aisle, I ought to be more supportive of him, but he's a lout and a bully and it's about time someone taught him that he isn't bullet-proof.

On the program, he freely cheats, lies, and gets his co-hosts into trouble.  It may be all in jest, but he comes across as the sort of egotistical boor that you just want to punch in the mouth.  I'm hoping that with Clarkson gone, little Richard "Hamster" Hammond may finally get a chance to live a full and long life--without having Clarkson around to ceaselessly put him in mortal peril.

But there may not be a Top Gear as we know it for much longer.  James May, laconic "Captain Slow," was quick to offer solidarity to Clarkson by changing his Facebook profile to "former TV presenter," and it seems likely that Hammond and May will not renew their contracts if Clarkson doesn't return.

This would be sad.  I think those two could carry the show.  My favorite segment was the Reliant Robin Space Shuttle, with Hammond and May, and they get along well together.

There's a lot of things the show could do.  It was around for years before Clarkson, and even had--gasp!--female hosts; they could easily find a replacement.  Hell, even The Stig would be preferable to bringing back Clarkson, who would, of course, be insufferably smug, knowing that "they couldn't survive without me."  He has never been repentant before over any of the incendiary comments he was called out on, so if he returns to the show, it will not be as a chastened man.

I can understand why May and Hammond would wish to support their friend, and why they wouldn't feel comfortable over, say, an on-screen campaign to replace Jeremy (maybe with a crash test dummy?  A wart hog?  A blonde bimbo?) but for them to leave the show, too...I don't know about May, but Richard has a family and a castle to support.

And quitting their contract with the BBC--well, it's not just Top Gear, it's all those other delightful little series they do as well, isn't it?  Sure, they won't starve, and they'll probably get snapped up in short order by another network, but a moment's bravado will become a lifetime of foolish regret.  James can go live in a caravan in Oz Clarke's backyard, and Richard...well, he's almost an honorary American already, he could just come over here and, I dunno, become a lumberjack or something, he's got the experience at it.

Or they could both go into rocket science.  I hear Orbital is hiring.