British Labour leader, Ed Milliband has taken issue with Jeremy Clarkson over what he called ‘belittling people with mental illness’ in order to demand a ‘fight to end intolerance’. He needed to burn down a field of strawmen to do it, as Jeremy simply criticized those who suicide in ways that cause disruption:
Ed Miliband today accused TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson of ‘belittling’ people with mental health problems. The Labour leader used a speech in central London to criticise the Top Gear host, who he claimed was responsible for promoting a culture of ‘intolerance’.
Mr Mililband said stars were wrong to make light of mental illness, as he unveiled plans to tackle what he called ‘the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age’. …
… He added: ‘Jeremy Clarkson, who may have at least have acknowledged the tragedy of people who end their own lives, goes on to call them "Johnny Suicides" whose bodies should be left on train tracks rather than delay journeys. ‘It is attitudes like these that reinforce the stigma that blights millions of people's lives, and holds our country back. …
Jeremy Clarkson caused controversy last December after criticising people who kill themselves on train lines. The notorious presenter said that anyone who committed suicide in this way was 'very selfish' for traumatising train drivers and inconveniencing commuters. …
In a newspaper column he wrote that killing oneself by jumping in front of a train 'is a very selfish way to go because the disruption it causes is immense.'
He went on to label those who killed themselves 'Johnny Suicide'. Clarkson claimed that train drivers involved in these cases are 'traumatised for life', and complained that passengers would 'have to sit around for hours'.
And he added that trains should not wait until all the remains of the body had been removed from tracks, saying - grotesquely - that drivers should instead 'get the train moving as soon as possible and let foxy woxy and the birds nibble away at the smaller, gooey parts that are far away and hard to find.'
However, in his article for The Sun Mr Clarkson stressed that he had 'the deepest sympathy for anyone whose life is so mangled and messed up that they believe death's icy embrace will be better.
While Clarkson’s comments may seem insensitive to some of his viewers, labeling them as belittling people with mental illness, makes about as much sense as accusing shows like Steady Eddie, Mr Bean, and ‘Some Mothers do have em’ of making fun of the handicapped. They were not directed at the mentally ill as a group, but at a specific group of suicidal people.
The issue of suicide has been handled in film in an unsympathetic manner before, without causing much of a ripple. Three that come to mind are, Dirty Harry, Lethal Weapon 1, and Crocodile Dundee 2, none of which sparked outrage, but Clarkson was not the star. None sparked an outbreak of jumping off tall buildings.
The comments will if anything cause those contemplating such an act to visualize the result and possibly be discouraged from it and even better, seek help. Most people in society have some sympathy and understanding of those with difficulties. On the other hand, the Clarkson ‘tough love’ approach may have benefits of its own.