Spot The Difference

Paul Chambers and Jeremy Clarkson.  What’s the difference?

I’m going to guess “the unrelenting privilege of wealth”.  Here’s where we are.

Clarkson, with his Panini ’82 perm and his obnoxious racist twisted mug (he won’t be wintering in Cancún, kids), said this:

“I’d have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.”

He was talking about a couple of million public sector workers who, on 30 November 2011, said “enough” and took unified industrial action on a scale never before seen in this country.  Personally, he can try.  Bring a gun, I’ll get my kids and we’ll see how we go.  You’d best have an awful lot of bullets, though, because there will be two million behind me and I reckon they’d see you die screaming for that murder you’re espousing.  And if you don’t kill me quickly I’ll be at the front of that queue for what you tried to do to before my kids.

Extreme?  Beyond the pale?  Well, it depends.  You see, Clarkson’s abuse was written off as a joke (despite the man having less laughter about him than Shakespeare) and Ofcom accepted it.  They had 736 complaints. 

The BBC, that second-to-last bastion of Oxbridge privilege, received 31,000 complaints.  That’s enough people behind it to give solid support and revenue to a Premier League football team.  The BBC failed to take any action against him save for arranging an apology that the imbecile will never mean. 

The Prime Minister took one look at his bank balance, saw how he voted, rang the newsdesk at the BBC, spoke to the Oxbridge editor and came up with the word “silly” to describe him.  That last sentence may not be true, but frankly, given Clarkson can issue death threats at will but not mean it, what is truth?

“But you’re over-reacting, it was a jape, a gag, he doesn’t really hate those people who allow him to fart around daily in a non-job on an obscene salary” I hear you say?  No.  I’m not.  See Paul Chambers.

Paul Chambers was the man who found himself subject of the TwitterJoke trial.  He lost his job after a prosecution because of a tweet he made when he was about to fly to see his new girlfriend in Northern Ireland and Robin Hood airport in the Midlands was closed because of snow. 

On Twitter, he has an audience of 690 followers – Clarkson, although on the failure that is The One Show, had considerable more viewing his assault on British family life.  Chambers tweeted the following – “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

One week later he was arrested by five police officers.  He was questioned for eight hours.  His computers and telephones were seized and in a conclusion worthy of Keystone, was charged and convicted of causing a menace under the Communications Act 2003.  He sent the tweet in January 2010 while the country was snow- and ice-bound.  He was convicted in May 2010, 18 months before Clarkson went for his rifle.  His clear incitement to terrorism meant that he was… fined £385.  Meanwhile, of the 4,000 twitterers who when they heard, retweeted his message and as such, published it themselves, not a one suffered arrest or sanction.  Serious stuff, obviously.  That’ll hit terrorism where it hurts – a week’s wages (according to the national average, not John Terry’s stack).

Even the law didn’t take this conviction seriously.  Common sense decreed he should appeal – all that time and effort wasted on 5 of the police force, 8 hours of questions and however much they went into when they investigated his PC and phones for a fine that wouldn’t buy you a decent TVNot content with the absurdity of the case so far, the court of appeal upheld the conviction.  No, really, they weren’t content with the law looking the ass it was already.  They wanted more.

And so having had Doncaster Magistrates’ and Doncaster Crown Courts have a play, it went to the High Court in February 2012, two years after the incident.  And judgement was reserved.  Clarkson walks free and uncharged, while Paul Chambers continues to wait for exoneration.

The difference?  BBC, government and the filthy stink of the overpaid, undertalented, untouchable celebrity gets one case laughed off.  Paul Chambers had none of that backing. 

No coincidence.

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