Jeremy Clarkson only takes home half as much from the BBC as the Director-General, which I suppose is a blessing. The odious right-wing self-publicist's latest outbursts about public sector workers and people who commit suicide under trains are the tip of an iceberg that raises the fundamental question not of free speech but of whether funding such cretinous delusion out of the licence fee is a good use of scarce resources, let alone oxygen.
It's interesting that Jezza's defenders are resorting to free speech as the prime defence of their hero's crassness. As a liberal, I believe that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, but one that carries the consequences of acting upon it. You can go to jail for four years for inciting rioting on Facebook, but advocating (however jocosely) the summary murder of public workers in front of their families on television is apparently only enough for an apology and for your mate the Prime Minister to describe it as "silly". If the BBC had sacked him immediately it would have been proportionate, and probably paid for several journalists to keep their jobs rather than a menopausal rent-a-gob.
The problem is that Clarkson represents a demographic that the rightists want to be promoted in the media, the saloon-bar ignoramus whose manufactured contrariness (along with the equally-odious Rod Liddle) provides validation that a particularly noxious brand of Poujadism is to be promoted - playing to the same demographic as Bernard Manning and Jim Davidson, the people who think that Enoch Powell should have been Prime Minister and that the real problem with the world is that there are foreigners in it. Clarkson's infantile fixation with environment-destroying cars has deep-rooted psychological reasons, but is it really enough to justify paying him the equivalent of six senior civil servants' salaries each year?
If his remarks were made about ethnic minorities, he would be prosecuted for incitement - or if he dared to step out of line on Israel the Zionist thought police would be out in force. Instead he continues the Tories' denegration of the public sector, a group of people who are clearly fair game now that they are standing up for their viewpoint. As a regime mouthpiece, he has the charm of Comical Ali with the PR skills of George W Bush, but he is part of the Chipping Norton mafia.
And if anyone declared open season on Clarksons, he would doubtless be the first looking for protection from public-sector police. So let loose the scum-hounds to remove him from parisitism at the expense of the public purse - as well as improving the quality of the media.