Have a look at the third paragraph of the Daily Mail’s article on Jeremy Clarkson’s comments about strikers:
In a day of extraordinary overreaction to what was clearly meant as a joke, one union official threatened to report him to police, while another said his comments were worthy of Colonel Gaddafi.
This is from the newspaper that has regularly given front page leads to its campaign against wheelie bins and just this week published Melanie Phillips’ article in which she claimed that two disturbing examples of criminal behaviour:
suggest a total absence of empathy for another person, which is the basic requirement of morality and, in turn, of a civilised society. They illustrate a brutalisation of humanity.
Evidence of this sickening tendency has been accumulating for years. While violent crime has always been with us, elements of sadism, cruelty or total indifference to anyone else’s distress are becoming frighteningly commonplace.
And what does Phillips propose as the only solution? Well, the clue is in the title: ‘A sneering burglar, a callous mugging and why only faith can fill Britain’s moral vacuum’. Yes, we don’t read the bible enough:
it has long seemed obvious that this is intimately related to the breakdown of religious belief. It is the morality embedded in the Bible that expressly requires us to put the interests of others first.
Irrespective of what your opinion of Clarkson’s comments is, let’s just take a few seconds to giggle over the Daily Mail – who went to front page war over Ross and Brand’s answerphone ‘joke’ that they branded ‘Sachgate’ and demanded that they both be sacked – talking about a sense of humour failure or how ‘you can’t even make a joke these days without silly outrage’.
My thoughts on Clarkson’s comments are simple: make them on TV and you can expect to get lots of complaints and outrage; make them in a newspaper and you’d be handsomely rewarded as a ‘star’ columnist. If anything, Clarkson has just provided a perfect example of the kind of jokey hyperbole he gets away with in print without a whisper of outrage being deemed as the work of Satan just because he said it on TV.
There is a very interesting double standard in this country when it comes to what is acceptable on TV compared to what is acceptable in print. Just imagine – for example – a TV news broadcast flicking from a serious news story to an upskirt shot of some female celeb getting out of a taxi or a video report about what Suri Cruise has worn during the week or how ‘she looks all grown up’. It, of course, would probably crash the phone network as outraged masses call in their disgust and complaints.
Yet this is what we get in the tabloids. It seems to me that British Society finds the medium of TV inherently more offensive than the medium of print.