LaMarche: Britain’s new language police

by Kolby LaMarche

Britain always seems to be one step ahead of the United States – for good or for worse. And in this case, it isn’t good. 

In December of 2022, motoring genius and global media personality, Jeremy Clarkson, published his regular column in the Sun. In this particular piece, Clarkson rattled against Meghan Markle, the wife of Prince Harry, and detailed a Game of Thrones-type fantasy he had, saying “At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when [Meghan] is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her.”

As Clarkson’s charm would have it, and as you might expect, some members of the public boiled over enraged. More than 25,000 individuals from the British public lodged complaints against the piece to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), the regulatory body which oversees the newspaper and magazine industry in Britain.

While Clarkson’s remarks certainly warrant discussion, the crux of this story lies not in his column itself, but rather in the reaction from IPSO.

Established in 2014 by Royal Charter, the IPSO’s essential function is to take in complaints, assess the complaints, issue public rulings, and legally compel editors to retract and correct. For nearly a decade now the IPSO has done just that. However, where the IPSO was once concerned with genuinely holding newspapers and magazines accountable for professionalism and accuracy in reporting, they have now set their eyes on policing opinion.

Before all this, the IPSO had a clear policy stating that only individuals directly impacted by statements made in an article could file a complaint. Consequently, in this particular case, it would have meant that only Markle could file. But, without notice, the IPSO changed their minds.

The Fawcett Society, a UK organization for gender equality and justice, was chosen as the complainant in the case against the Sun and Jeremy Clarkson. The decision came during a change in leadership at the Fawcett Society. Sitting senior MP and former chair of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, took the reigns as chair, bringing with her a powerful political network. The Fawcett Society’s assertion? An accusation of sexism on behalf of, so they claim, the women of Britain.

A little over a week ago, the IPSO ruled in favor of Fawcett, finding Clarkson’s comments ‘sexist’. The IPSO mandated that the Sun display the findings on the front page of its print edition and website homepage for 24 hours, something which the outlet hasn’t been compelled to do since 2016 when it published inaccurate information on Brexit. And, to add insult to injury, the IPSO further ordered that the Sun advertise a summary of the IPSO’s findings in the space which Clarkson’s column regularly occupies.

Could an organization, social group, or friend group decide to label Clarkson as sexist and cancel him? Sure, though toxic and not constructive. Could Clarkson have omitted his wild fantasy? Yeah. But to have a state-backed regulatory body publicly reprimand a private citizen on behalf of a political organization chaired by a member of parliament is painfully concerning.  
While I am not inclined to engage in slippery slope arguments, the IPSO’s actions raise serious questions about whom or what they will target next. With this precedent, any political organization can abuse the IPSO’s legal authority and stifle speech they dislike on behalf of whatever population they claim to represent. 

The IPSO’s willingness to entertain complaints from anyone on any subject that may offend them has opened the door to, and I hate sounding like a Republican or a Tory, liberal elites and correctness radicals who are hell-bent on training the public like daycare doggies. And America should be watching.

Burning Sky is dedicated to providing critique and commentary on the issues of the day from an unapologetic perspective, fueling change in the heart of Vermont. Authored by Kolby LaMarche weekly.

8 replies »

  1. We are. I would expect tins socialistic BS in England, we need another Tea Party over here. Maybe Joe can discuss the issue when he meets with the King this coming week.

  2. Just like California is the envy of Vermont’s moonbat political leaders in matters of environmental and social policy, England and the rest of Europe’s restrictions on free speech are models for what they have in mind for us. We voted for this.

  3. The Brits gave up their guns and now their government puts them in jail for Facebook posts.

  4. No worries over “sounding like a Republican,” as the “Republicans” of today are at best merely speedbumps to the leftist agenda, at worst they are leftists lite. This neocon uniparty isn’t concerned about protecting free speech. In reality, free speech along with all constitutionally protected rights should rightly be a nonpartisan issue and never open for debate.

    • Isn’t the whole point that ‘constitutionally protected rights’ are always up for debate and interpretation? Otherwise why both with silly little things like Supreme Courts, whose very job is to be exactly that!

      So without that process, Alan, who is it that decides (and often changes) what is ‘constitutional’ and what is not? You? Me?

      • The liberal supreme court had a long run and gave us a liberal definition of the constitution. Sorry for you that those days of inventing constitutional rights not mentioned in the actual document are over. Can you point to where in the constitution that it allows for a right to terminate a child prior to birth as a right or ignore where it says in the 2nd amendment “shall not be infringed”, in the bill of rights but was ignored due to the liberal ideology of the court? A twisted mindset of the previous liberal court and ideology of previous courts are the reason that the current sanity of the court pertaining to the document is so strange to people who have never read the actual document. As Peter Welch just said to the young lady testifying before the senate on men thinking they are women and entitled to be in a female locker room, “just accept it”. Your time has passed.

  5. As I recall, the second amendment also says “a well-regulated militia…’ Some would argue that having zero regulation goes against that provision. A conservative interpretation says that is does not.

    So what this all boils down to is not some deluded quasi judicial interpretation, but people saying ‘I want the constitution to do what I want.’ Left or right.

    • I know liberals can’t understand the 2nd Amendment because they want it to say what they want it to say. The militia is made up of U.S. citizens. It is also where the National Guard fills it’s ranks, therefore their right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

      Antonin Scalia: “The Constitution is not a living organism, it’s a legal document, and it says what it says, and it doesn’t say what it doesn’t say”.