Tom Slater Tom Slater

Don’t cancel Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson in Clarkson's Farm (Credit: Amazon Prime)

Meghan Markle appears to be on a mission to prove that cancel culture really does exist. It seems that no one is too big to be sacked for criticising her. She boasts a body count that could soon rival her husband’s 25 Talibs. Markle – or rather the hysteria surrounding her – has ripped through the British media, getting Piers Morgan booted from Good Morning Britain, claiming a scalp at the Society of Editors, and now, if reports are to be believed, Jeremy Clarkson is about to come unstuck for his infamous Sun on Sunday column about Meghan. If only the ‘uncancellable’ JK Rowling would have a pop at her; we’d have the ultimate culture-war showdown on our hands.

Of all the people to bear the brunt of Marklemania, Clarkson was perhaps the easiest target. He was almost asking for it. In his column just before Christmas he said he loathed Meghan more than Rose West and dreamed of the day she would be paraded through the streets naked, pelted with excrement as she goes. It was outrageous and close to the bone even by the former Top Gear star’s standards.

Cancel culture not only stifles free speech and creativity, it renders genuine apologies pointless

Now, 20,000 IPSO complaints and various apologies later, Variety reports that Amazon Prime Video is ‘likely to be parting ways’ with him, after the final, already commissioned episodes of his hit shows, Clarkson’s Farm and The Grand Tour, are aired. Clarkson published an extended apology on Instagram yesterday, noting that Amazon and ITV (where he presents Who Wants to Be a Millionaire) were both ‘incandescent’ over the now-deleted column. 

But here’s the thing about that column: he was joking. It’s a simple point but one that has apparently gone unappreciated in this whole saga. Reading the Sussexes’ statement about the scandal yesterday (they accused Clarkson of a ‘pattern of writing articles that spread hate rhetoric, dangerous conspiracy theories and misogyny’), you’d have thought the column was deadly serious.

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