I was watching Question Time on BBC1 yesterday and the first subject to be discussed was Jeremy Clarkson's crack about how the strikers should be taken out and shot.
Some context for those who think the world begins and ends at our shores: Question Time is a discussion programme on the BBC where a number of pretty lofty individuals are asked questions by the audience. It's sort of Xarabank without the baying chavs and tejatrin tal-kappillan elements.
Jeremy Clarkson presents probably the best motoring show in the world and is – how should one put it? – less than perfectly politically correct, which is why I love the guy and his show. The BBC is a publicly-funded broadcaster of some repute and very often accused of corporate bias by the political parties, though they don't actually descend to the pettiness of accusing individuals of having an opinion. In a real democracy, individuals are, and this may come as a surprise to the Lil'Elves, expected to have an opinion.
The strikers to whom Clarkson was referring were the ones who participated in a day of stoppage in the UK because they felt aggrieved by the austerity measure taken in connection with their pension rights by the Coalition. They are retaining pension rights but they want their cake in full, apparently unwilling to acknowledge that the pain should be shared.
Clarkson made the crack during a programme on the Beeb, and if you read it in full and in context, you realise that he had his tongue firmly in his cheek, quite apart from the fact that he was spoofing the "you must have a balanced view" attitude so beloved of organisations such as our revered Thought Police, a.k.a. the Broadcasting Authority.
The audience during Question Time clearly got this, from the tone of the questions put and the comments made. The only two who clearly didn't were a pinch-faced representative of the teachers' union, who said she didn't want to be po-faced about the thing and immediately contradicted herself by being precisely that, and the Shadow Minister for something or other who got all earnest and serious about it and went on to attack Clarkson personally, wondering why people thought he was so special and such a great broadcaster.
Is it coincidental that it was from the Left that this came?
A complete failure to take things lightly, an over-inflated sense of self-importance and an immediate personal attack on someone who expressed an opinion that is contrary to theirs' characterised the way Clarkson's inane joke was treated by the two members of the panel who came from the union and Labour Party. Everyone else, the audience included, just got the joke and moved on.
And there I was thinking that this sort of thing only happens here.