To quote this story, please use the hashtag #kumquatgate.
I believe in freedom of speech, I just wish that those who have that luxury would use it sensibly. I fully recognise that they don’t have to – that’s what freedom of speech is all about – but that’s what I’d like.
Jeremy Clarkson is a good example. Sometimes Jeremy Clarkson gets in trouble for saying naughty things. Things he’s allowed to say, legally. Just things that you’d think he would have the sense to choose not to say.
But then again, sometimes I think Jeremy Clarkson’s previous actions in this regard have made Jeremy Clarkson into an easy target for people who don’t like Jeremy Clarkson. And it’s that sort of person who has complained about Jeremy Clarkson nicknaming the Nissan Qashqai (I’ve driven one, by the way: terrible), the Nissan Kumquat.
…one Top Gear fan complained to the BBC in February about Clarkson’s choice of words. According to an appeal made to the BBC Trust, the complainant, “said that Jeremy Clarkson was ‘pronouncing Nissan Qashqai as Nissan Kumquat and [he] would like to know why”. He said he had a car of this type himself and no one on the programme had explained why they were not saying the name correctly.
Fantastic. Not only does this waste time, effort and money, it also trivialises any legitimate complaints made about Clarkson, Top Gear, or indeed any other show on the BBC or any other media outlet.
But of course, things didn’t end there:
BBC Audience Services responded a few days later, “explaining that ‘Kumquat’ was a nickname Jeremy had given the car, and had referred to the Nissan Kumquat for quite a few seasons”. The viewer was unhappy with the response saying, “his question as to why the car was given the nickname ‘Kumquat’ had not been answered.”
This guy is obviously a bit of a twat. And I thought long and hard (not really) about whether he might read this and find that offensive and I actually decided that I really don’t care either way. I suspect that the people at the BBC who had to deal with Mr Twat also share my feelings.
The BBC explained in a letter that: “It’s simply a nickname for the vehicle, a play on words. Obviously the two words share a phonetic syllable similarity thus like Jeremy does with literally countless car names, he jokingly substituted one with the other, the kumquat of course being an exotic fruit.”
Eish. Why does this need explaining to him? How is it that difficult? Well, at least that’s the matter sorted now, finall… wait… he’s not given up yet, has he?
No. No, he hasn’t:
In April, after two months of what the BBC described politely as a “high number and length of calls” made to the corporation, the viewer appealed to the BBC Trust. In its September appeals roundup the trust went into five pages of detail about the case, concluding that it had decided not to put it to appeal as: “Decisions relating to the use of a wordplay in how to describe a car, or which presenter should work on a programme were editorial and creative matters that rested with the BBC.”
This is the downside of free society. Yes, there’s Clarkson’s previous foolishness as I mentioned above, but then there’s this here Mr Twat who chooses to get offended at anything and everything (as is his right) and then write, phone and generally badger the BBC about it (as is also, unfortunately, his right).
Just as Jeremy Clarkson’s disappointing decisions regarding what should come out of his mouth regarding bridges, nursery rhymes and so on, does no favours for those fighting for free speech in these trying times (nor for the BBC), Mr Twat’s desperation to find offence in the mention of a small, orange, Asian fruit belittles those decrying genuine harassment, racism, this-ism and that-ism or whatever other stuff happens when people don’t understand the sometimes paper-thin divide between free speech and hate speech. And long sentences. They’re also bad.
I strongly dislike Mr Twat.