Political assassination isn't a joke. This year a British Member of Parliament was, quite literally, assassinated. Jo Cox was gunned down in the street while doing her job. We were shocked, perhaps more shocked than with assassinations and attempted assassinations elsewhere in the world. Benazir Bhutto, Indira Ghandi, Yitzhak Rabin - assassinated. Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II - shot but survived.
Political assassination isn't a joke. Unless that is, you're Sir David Attenborough:
Sir David, 90, who returns to BBC screens in Planet Earth II this weekend, was quizzed on current affairs by Emily Maitlis, the Newsnight host, for Radio Times.
Asked how he would feel about America electing a President who believed that climate change is a “Chinese hoax”, Sir David buried his head in his hands.
“Well, we lived through that with earlier presidents – they’ve been equally guilty… But what alternative do we have? Do we have any control or influence over the American elections? Of course we don’t,” said Sir David.
Adopting a quieter tone, he said: “We could shoot him, it’s not a bad idea”
A giggle suggested Sir David, who was invited to the White House by President Obama to discuss the planet’s future, was not being entirely serious.
Can you imagine if some less savoury (i.e. right of centre) figure had suggested, even hinted in a humorous way, that some sainted leader of the left should be killed off? Yet Attenborough has escaped unchallenged - would Emily Maitlis have brushed aside such offensiveness had it been James Delingpole or Nigel Farage she'd been interviewing?
Now while I dislike Attenborough intensely - the values he presents to us are disgusting - I don't think he meant his comment as anything other than a crass dinner table, bien pensant, smug aside. Nor do I think he should be sacked. But if the BBC is true to its oft expressed progressive values they they should be sacking him or, at the very least, getting a suitably grovelling apology out of him.