The recent controversy triggered by the TopGear trio of Disco Vicars (Clarkson, Hammond, May) and their round of offensive comments dressed up as just-a-bit-of-fun prompted the usual charge of lame justifications.
From "no-one cares" (read "I don't, meeeeee, therefore it follows that the whole world doesn't either") and "haven't the Mexicans more important things to think about", to "this country is losing its sense of humour", the defenders of casual bullying and casual racism have been out in force to stick up for the three white upper class broadcasters.
The lamest defence, however, comes in the guise of the trite "You don't need to watch TopGear. Use the off switch or change channel".
Which really says a lot about some people's sapped power of observation. Because:
a) TopGear is paid for by the taxpayer - that is you and me and the bloke over there. You may change channel (and rest assured Clarkson's is the last TV programme this blog would want to watch), but still you won't be able do jack to stop your own money from being used to fund Clarkson and his side-splitting remarks about the disabled, the blind and various vulnerable people.
b) This is no page-32 article written in dubious taste and published by some local paper we're talking about. Alas, TopGear is the most popular BBC programme worldwide. Me and you may switch off the telly, but in the meantime tens of millions of people abroad will have found more reasons to believe the Brits' growing reputation as a nation of small-minded xenophobic little islanders.
c) Like Steve Coogan wrote in his Observer piece this morning, "tolerance of casual racism [is] arguably the most sinister kind [as] [i]t's easy to spot the ones with the burning crosses".
So here's a question for the "I'm-Not-Racist" Brigade: what's more dangerous and more hateful, a twat dressed up in ku klux klan robes that everyone can see, or a (not so) subtle and growing set of xenophobic remarks thrown left right and centre and dressed up as "just-a-bit-of-fun"?
If no-one ever stood up to bullies and racists in the name of "getting-a-sense-of-humour" and "relaxing", telly would still be packed with stuff like The Black and White Minstrel Show and Curry and Chips.
You may be content enough to switch channels, but I don't want to be forced to spend £145.50 a year to reinforce the notion that the British constantly look down on everything foreign, thank you very much.
Jeremy Clarkson and his sidekicks can play the bully if they want, but not with the taxpayer's money.
PS: Incidentally- Three Brits pouring scorn on Mexican food saying that it's like "sick with cheese on top"? Brits laughing at other people's food???? Now what did you say about sense of humour?
Click here to access the full list of cliches (2010-11):
"Young female TV presenters are a response to market demand".
"You've GOT to own your own home";
"Society benefits from extreme wealth at the top";
"There are jobs out there if you really want one";
"The Royal Family brings in tourism revenue".