In Defence of Jeremy Clarkson 75

I only today realized that the “Eeny meeny” rhyme contains the word nigger – despite having said it many times in my childhood.  I really attached no meaning at all to the word then – I though it was just nonsense like “eeny meeny’.  I certainly had no idea it meant a black person.  I had only ever met two or three black people, and did not think of them as any different.

Once I did know the word “nigger” and its hateful sense – probably from TV – I never made the cognitive connection between it and that old nursery rhyme.  Absolutely not until today when I read about Jeremy Clarkson.  I then closed my eyes and said the rhyme.  I was genuinely astonished – and horrified – to find myself saying:

Eeny meeny miney moe

Catch a nigger by the toe

If he squeals let him go

Eemy meeny miney moe

I am quite sure that was the version I chanted as a child when counting out a random choice.  It was just a counting rhyme.  I had as a small child  no associations at all with its meaning, any more than I associated “ring a ring of rosies” with bubonic plague, or “Here we go round the mulberry bush” with pagan fertility rituals.

Clarkson said the rhyme in the context of making the point that there was nothing to choose between two cars, as a way of indicating the choice would be random – an entirely natural context for the rhyme to spring to mind.  Plainly he realized what he had done, and recorded another version.  Clarkson is even older than me.  I might very well have made the same error.  He denies he ever said the word “nigger”.  I can conceive I might have done it without realizing it is there, until too late.  If that sounds incredible, I think it is because you are not taking into account the way children learn and continually repeat rhythmic counting rhymes.

Naturally I hope that version of the nursery rhyme is never used again.  There can be few things harder to eradicate than ancient playground chants, but parents and teachers must explain why it is wrong if they hear it.  I don’t know if children still use it.  But while we may deplore attitudes of the past, we have to exercise wisdom in dealing with people who were products of a very different environment.  Like Clarkson.  Oh, and me.

Which leads me to a further thought.  I am pretty sure I had no concept of people’s colour as a small child, and the following I know for certain. My elder children attended a primary school in Gravesend in which a little over half the children were Sikh.  By age seven, they had absolutely no conception of any racial difference between themselves and any others in their class.  It is a slender piece of evidence, but I am generally fairly convinced that racial difference is a taught construct.



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75 thoughts on “In Defence of Jeremy Clarkson

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  • Rob

    There are those in Britain who use the phrase, “political correctness gone mad.”

    Readers can form a view of how many of that group will also be voting for the new kid on the block party in the forthcoming European elections. I think there’s quite a correlation.

    The Clarkson piece was filmed back in 2012, and the show broadcast in early 2013.

    It’s just a hunch of mine, but I think this will reinforce the siege mentality of those people and so make them more likely to turn out and vote for someone who’ll stand up to all this PC nonsense.

    So, how come the story broke this week?

  • CanSpeccy

    re “Cunt” :Why is it not un-PC?”

    Probably because for most people (men and women) cunts are usually associated with pleasure

    Don’t be a twat. By your logic, “golliwog” should not be un-PC, since golliwogs used to be owned and loved by millions of children.

    “nigger” and “golliwog” are un-PC because Europeans are denied the right to denigrate other groups, whereas others are free to denigrate Europeans, e.g., by calling them “whitey,” “cracker,” etc.

    PC is, among other things, about undermining ethnonationalism of the European peoples. Whitey is to understand that he’s a dirty racist and Nazi son-of-a-bitch unless he’s for his own extinction.

    The end result of political correctness is likely to be a violent back-lash when Europeans become fully awake to the fact that they have been targeted for destruction, just as nationalities in the Soviet Union, the Tartars, for instance, and the peoples of the Baltic states, were targeted for destruction by Stalin. The genocidal methods of the American empire may be gentler than those of Stalin, but no less deadly.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    “Probably because for most people (men and women) cunts are usually associated with pleasure

    Don’t be a twat. By your logic, “golliwog” should not be un-PC, since golliwogs used to be owned and loved by millions of children.”

    Normally I’d be tempted to unpick and demolish your comment as above, but having read the rest of your post and taken note of such observations as “PC is, among other things, about undermining ethnonationalism of the European peoples” and “when Europeans become fully awake to the fact that they have been targeted for destruction”, I doubt that you’d be susceptible to rational argument. So I shan’t.

    Have a nice day nevertheless!

  • Casey

    Typical racism-counter-racism.

    Black people can call each other niggers all the time, fine and dandy; walk in a US street in some places, you get caled cracker and more.. but that’s Ok too, huh?

    This wasn’t even aired and this moronic storm in a teacup arises..

    They need to get a life, there’s more to make a fuss over than this. Do some REAL reporting for once – cover some of the scum-filth politicians!

  • Zelda

    I was the age for childhood chants in the 50s in Glasgow when we sang:
    Eenymeeny miny mo
    Sit the baby on the po
    When it’s done
    Wipe it’s b*m
    Eenymeeny miny mo
    This is still the one used by Glasgow kids today

  • Jemand

    I formed the view that Jeremy Clarkson is a congenital wanker from the time he expressed contempt for “working class vehicles” with emphasis on the term “working class”. That moment defined him as a comfortably arrogant prick.

    But I did enjoy Top Gear until I came to realise that the Clarkson and Co were fakes and that the show was scripted, rehearsed, edited and styled to produce a glamourous work of low-brow fiction — much like World of Wrestling but without the theatrical authenticity and dignity of that art form.

    As a child, I also used the eeny-meeny rhyme with the word “nigger” not knowing what it meant. And I had a friend who would use the word ‘Jew’ as in “don’t be a jew, give me some lollies”. For some years, I thought that “jew” meant “stingy person”.

    So when Clarkson is caught out using the word “nigger” it’s pretty obvious to see from his previous form that the incident has been contrived to generate the usual kind of publicity that follows his antics to promote Top Gear and reinforce his image of being a likeable regular bloke who always cops flak from uptight lefties.

    But it is no wonder why there is such controversy when it has become popular sport in the media to ritualistically humiliate celebrities when they misspeak.

    Just recently, an American owner of a basketball team had his very private thoughts recorded and subsequently leaked to the media. Whether his thoughts were right or wrong is subjective, but they were certainly lawful. However, the response to the media reports has been to effectively punish him in a way that is normally reserved for the courts. Did this man commit anything worse than anybody else who says bad things in private about other people? What this incident has proven is that in the age of cheap technology, it is no longer safe to release your private thoughts in the privacy of your own home. People can be selectively whipped into an hysterical overreaction to minor things that barely justify a moment’s thought let alone impact on their personal lives. It’s a powerful weapon and I don’t believe that such reports are innocently made for the public’s benefit. Anybody wanna by a basketball team at a heavily discounted price?

  • Parky

    With the serial parasite Patten finally now on the way out of the revolving doors at the BBC, time for a new top dog at the BBC Trust, would J Clarkson make a suitable candidate, he could hardly be any worse than the present incompetent incumbent.

  • Mary

    Similar but different outcome.

    ‘But the DJ said the row had exacerbated a stress-related condition and he would not be returning to the corporation.

    Mr Lowe said he had been “compelled to pay the ultimate price” for falling foul of “today’s unforgiving obsession with political correctness”.

    The second verse of the song, recorded by the UK dance band Ambrose and his Orchestra, features the line: “He’s been tanning [N-word] out in Timbuktu, now he’s coming back to do the same to you.” Later versions of the song omit the offensive word.

    The BBC took action after a listener heard the song broadcast on Mr Lowe’s Sunday night programme and complained.’

    BBC Radio Devon DJ David Lowe loses job over racist word

    Clarkson’s value to the BBC is obviously greater than Mr Lowe’s.

  • Mary

    Fury at Kenny ‘joke’ spreads
    Nicola Byrne and Martin Bright, home affairs editor
    The Observer, Sunday 15 September 2002

    ‘The familiy of Patrice Lumumba, the assassinated first Prime Minister of Congo, have demanded an apology from the Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who called the revered African liberation hero a ‘nigger’ in a racist joke.
    Disgust at Kenny’s recent remarks spread last night to Britain, where he was condemned by race campaigners, including the powerful Commission for Racial Equality watchdog and British political parties.

    In a remarkable twist, The Observer has discovered that members of Lumumba’s family – including one of his six sons and seven of his grandchildren – are living in Tallaght in west Dublin, after fleeing political persecution in the former Zaire in 1997.’

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