by Martin Odoni

Jeremy Clarkson’s horrendous racial-sexual power fantasy about Meghan Markle, as written in The S*n lavatory-paper, leads to two conclusions.

Conclusion one

First is what has been depressingly obvious about Clarkson himself for as long as he has been famous (-for-being-famous). He is an exceptionally unpleasant, jeering man who specialises in making himself look good by making anyone other than him seem tiresome or unworthy. A hater of variation.

As the excellent YouTuber Claudia Boleyn has pointed out (everyone, go follow Claudia, by the way, she is brilliant), Clarkson’s open call for Markle to be publicly stripped naked and then marched through the streets to have excrement hurled at her is incredibly obsolete misogyny – a terrifying kind of rape-by-public-proxy fantasy. His attempt to explain it away as something he saw in Game Of Thrones does not help his case one bit; Game Of Thrones chiefly showcases how cruel and corrupt politics and law were in Medieval times. It is there to help us learn what to be careful to avoid, it is not there to be copied. But he copied it. Anyone who advocates ‘punishment’, especially for women, with a sexual humiliation element has a power fetish over other people. His further attempt to put Markle on a moral level with the mass-murdering Rose West was a little like an online flamewar in which participants rapidly start comparing their opponents to the Nazis. Just wild, irresponsible, infantile abuse.

Whether you like Markle or not, it is surely going waaaaaaaaaaay overboard to compare her to Rose West

There were also clear implications of racism, which is never far from Clarkson’s attitudes, in that Markle is a woman of mixed race granted the “grand privilege” of marrying into the Royal Family of the country that was once one of the cornerstones of international slavery. It is intolerable to rich, well-off old white dinosaurs like Clarkson, and many others beyond, to see a non-white woman marry into the ruling institution of her past subjection, and downright outrageous that she soon left that institution, admitting that she dislikes it and was becoming depressed because of what it was putting her through. And that worst of all, she took one of the Princes of the Realm with her and made Royalty look bad…? Who the hell does this foreign she-devil think she is?!? (The fact that Prince Harry made the choice himself cannot be mentioned. “He must have been enchanted by Voodoo or some other form of Black Magic practiced by these uncivilised foreign women, dontchaknow?”)

Conclusion two

The second conclusion ends once and for all a theme I have been exploring on and off for around ten years, and that is the nature of The S*n itself as a newspaper. In particular, the value of its apologies, when it makes them.

In the aftermath of the Hillsborough Independent Panel publishing its report in 2012 that proved once and for all that the victims of the Hillsborough Disaster played no role in causing their own tragedy, The S*n made yet another mealy-mouthed attempt at apologising for its coverage in 1989. The S*n’s infamous The Truth article – perhaps the most shameful low in all of British journalism’s lamentable history – helped twist public perceptions that Liverpool spectators at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final had been widely guilty of hooligan behaviour, when in reality the disaster was caused by an unsafe stadium and a botched police operation to guide the crowd inside.

Kelvin MacKenzie and Exhibit A against him
Even by Kelvin MacKenzie’s standards, this was a horrible low

The then-Chief Editor of The S*n, the most toxic blot on the anus of the Establishment media that is Kelvin MacKenzie, initially wanted to title the article, You Scum, making it painfully obvious what his attitude was. He wanted the spectators from Liverpool to be guilty, and he leapt on the false rumours circulated by the South Yorkshire Police like a wolf onto a lamb.

As I wrote about a year after the Independent Panel reported, there is no way any apology from anyone connected to The S*n can be accepted until there is a clear and organisation-wide change of behaviour. If the same behaviour that led to such an unprincipled hatchet-piece continues, that can only mean that the apology was not sincere. The fact that The S*n would even allow such a shallow, cruel, abusive piece like Clarkson’s to be published on its website shows that, still, nothing has changed there. The Clarkson article’s purpose was the same as The Truth‘s had been, and it was arrived at by much the same attitudes and approach. Try to push the public into hating someone for no fair reason. Do this by stereotyping them, largely ignore the bare facts, and invoke all manner of outdated standards of both judgement and penalty. The only difference is that then the target was a city, this time the target was an individual woman.

I also noted a little over five years ago that MacKenzie’s re-employment by the tabloid rag as a columnist, one who wrote entire columns in the crudest, most offensive and phony stereotypes like he is applying for a job in 1930s Music Hall, suggested that the apology was an empty gesture.

If MacKenzie defends you, you know you have fouled up

MacKenzie actually had the nerve to weigh in on the row over Clarkson’s trash, and did Clarkson probably the worst ‘favour’ imaginable by defending him on Twitter; –

Notice how even in this situation, MacKenzie still has to resort to cheap stereotypes and lazy caricatures to get what passes for his ‘point’ across?

MacKenzie’s main point seems to be that, because a lot of people love what passes for Clarkson’s ‘humour,’ no matter how damaging it is, it should be allowed a free pass. Now, this is really just yet another example of the right wing not understanding the difference between humour and cruelty, or between satire and victimising the vulnerable. But it is also a bandwagon fallacy, as it implies popularity constitutes legitimacy. It shows what a crude, feeble mind MacKenzie is lumbered with. His real reason for loving Clarkson is that Clarkson propagates and encourages precisely the same moronic stereotypes that MacKenzie wishes the human race really was composed of.

Either way, MacKenzie never seems to grasp that his own name has long been manure in the public sphere. Therefore his attempts to defend Clarkson will probably just serve to spread the dung more thickly over him. The only people who will nod eagerly are the people of the same tendencies, and who therefore were on Clarkson’s side to begin with.

It is all very well calling for freedom-of-speech (and hey, it is not as if I am arguing that Clarkson should actually be prosecuted for what he wrote), but free speech is meant to allow a platform for the discussion and exploration of new ideas. The right wing instead want free speech for the reassertion and re-legitimisation of old, discredited ideas, especially geographic and gender stereotypes that simply do not exist outside human in-the-box imagination. They heavily distort perceptions and all-too-often vilify people who have done nothing to deserve it. For instance, Meghan Markle.

My advice…

The Sun Newspaper almost never sells on Merseyside
The S*n tabloid almost never sells on Merseyside, after its outrageous role in smearing the Liverpool supporters with accusations of physical violence and obscene behaviour as the Disaster unfolded.