Nodded my way through Marina Hyde’s comment on the latest “Clarkson affair” in Guardian of 3.4.14. Full piece, plus 1500-plus comments, at
“Maybe race rows are cheaper by the dozen, in which case the last month has represented incredible value for the great British public. However, if you are one of those oddbods who loathe racism but find yourself increasingly troubled and/or bored by the form such thrice-weekly things take, then these are not the most encouraging of times.
“It is hard not to be struck by the blunt and useless standard of debate that has characterised this latest flare-up on an issue of monumental sensitivity, just as it has characterised so many before it.
“Clearly there are plenty who think that Jeremy Clarkson should have been sacked for the mumbled Top Gear outtake he is documented as having been at pains to rescind – just as I’m sure there were plenty within US law enforcement who were perfectly satisfied with Al Capone’s conviction for tax evasion. It’s a question of ambition. It’s unfashionable to have too much of it, which is why all right-thinking people to the left of Ukip – from Tories to commies – are supposed to regard it as a triumph each time a news outlet’s exposé forces Nigel Farage to outlaw some nobody for a vile thing they said on social media three years ago. This, apparently, is a win, even though the evidence suggests it simply calcifies the sense of asymmetric warfare against Ukip out there in the unreachable spaces where all those rising numbers of people who are going to vote for the party are living their unknowable lives …
“It is hard not to be struck by the blunt and useless standard of debate that has characterised this latest flare-up on an issue of monumental sensitivity, just as it has characterised so many before it …
“Are these increasingly, troublingly identikit explosions what the idealists might hope: a sign of hand-over-fist progress, where what once might have been regarded as a minor offence is now come down upon like a ton of bricks by a righteously avenging force that swells in number by the day? Or are they becoming the elevator music of public life, an insidious reinforcement of a polarised status quo, a pseudo event in which the chief bigots are privately more than happy to get caught up because it galvanises their own troops?
“To listen to the airwaves or read the internet when these things are running is to watch little more than the rabid restating of previously held views. Behold the endless entrenching of positions, which appears not to result in a single defection from either side to the other – a sort of rolling wasted opportunity, which will be coming around again before the spittle’s dry on this round.”