He’s off again, this time apparently publicly denouncing his employers as “fucking bastards”. If most of us were accused of punching a colleague to express our displeasure at the lack of a hot meal, as Clarkson allegedly did, we would expect a disciplinary process, that might culminate in a P45. Abusing our employer in public would make such an outcome a certainty. Particularly if we had a history of, say, posting tweets of signs inscribed with “gay cunt”, using racist abuse like “slope”, employing the “n” word, and mocking Gordon Brown’s disability and nationality by calling him a “one-eyed Scottish idiot”. His legion of hardcore fans think this is all “bantz!” and anybody who disagrees is a metropolitan liberal elitist living in an ivory tower made out of copies of the Guardian, muesli and flip-flops. If they’d spent a chunk of their lives forced to adjust to a barrage of racist or homophobic abuse, they’d probably be less likely to bellow “laaaaaaaaaad” every time Clarkson spews out a bit of casual bigotry. But (assuming the inquiry finds the latest allegation proven) the case is straightforward. He assaulted one of his producers. He has a track record of homophobia and racism. He publicly derides his employers while being disciplined. You’d be sacked for that. So why shouldn’t he?
Let’s recast this model. Imagine that I worked for a bank. And I pulled in a £60 million a year profit for the bank, the bank paid me £6 million a year to do so (those aren’t accurate figures but they’re the right sort of order for Clarkson’s BBC deal).
I then went off on one: “Lord Browne is a botty boy, who is this niggerboy Phillips to tell me what I can say about race and why the fuck does that cunt muncher Balding appear on my TV screen so much. And as for you, food delivery boy*, here’s your knuckle sandwich”. The reaction from my employer would be “And what colour would you like your bonus cheque to be?”
If I was the tea carrier in a corner caff, sure, I’d get fired. But there’s £54 million reasons why the banker wouldn’t. Same with Clarkson.
Money really does matter.
* The “producer” is in fact an “associate producer”, someone whose job is to make the sandwiches and organise the tea boy.