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When did saying sorry stop being enough?

The Game of Thrones scene that inspired Clarkson’s offending comments

Jeremy Clarkson is “not everyone’s cup of tea”, says Sarah Vine in the Daily Mail. The man is rude, obnoxious and bigoted. “He’s a dinosaur, a relic.” His words about Meghan – that he was dreaming of the day she’s made to “parade naked through the streets” while people “throw lumps of excrement at her” – were indefensible. “There’s a fine line between strong meat and week-old offal, and that just stank.” So Clarkson was right to say sorry after his column was published last month. But having apologised once, he should have left it at that. Instead, he returned this week, “cowed and contrite”, begging for forgiveness in a desperate bid to save his career. It was, he pleaded, “a mea culpa with bells on”.

Alas, this “unequivocal bowing and scraping” didn’t elicit a sympathetic response from “their graciousnesses in Montecito”. The Sussexes rejected his apology and attacked Clarkson’s columns as a “series of articles shared in hate”. Hang on a second – we all make mistakes. Harry of all people should understand this, what with the Nazi uniform debacle. One error of judgement “does not define a man – or a career”. But our insatiable cancel culture means nothing less than Clarkson’s “complete defenestration” will do, so Amazon has cancelled his “wildly popular” farm series and ITV has hinted it will give him the boot from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? “As annoying as he is”, this doesn’t sit well at all. A world in which irreverence towards “self-appointed moral arbiters” is punished with “the modern equivalent of the guillotine” is not somewhere most people want to live.