Long-winded TV comic Stewart Lee has made the Daily Mail cross by joking about hobbit-esque insurance risk Richard Hammond. Specifically he said he wished Hammond had been decapitated when he had that accident.
Now I bear little malice toward the man off Top Gear. I certainly wouldn't want to see him dead, whether through decapitation, poisoning, a nasty javelin accident or even natural causes. He has a family. And it would decimate the television channel Dave.
I would hate the man in charge of scheduling at Dave to have to rely on repeats of Fifth Gear, or vintage episodes of Top Gear with Noel Edmonds. He'd probably have to move all the programmes later in the day forward an hour, and then he'd have to fill up the gap with another episode of Live At The Apollo. Although that would be useful as I have a few small holes in my otherwise word-perfect memory of that episode with Jimmy Carr and Alan Carr. No! Damn you, Satan! Even then I wouldn't want him dead.
I think that Stewart Lee has pushed the bounds of humour a little too far. I'm not saying that decapitation jokes can't be funny. Some of them are so good you laugh your head off. But some targets are simply unacceptable.
Here is my guide to whether the butt of your joke can stand up to the Acceptable Decapitation test:
Hitler - yes
Stalin - yes
Jade Goody (pre-cancer) - yes
Jade Goody (post-cancer) - no
Robert Mugabe - yes
The Queen - no
Prince Charles - yes
Peter Mandelson - yes
Noel Gallagher - no
Noel Edmonds - yes
Jeremy Clarkson - yes
Richard Hammond - no
Terry Waite - no
Terry Christian - yes
Margaret Thatcher (pre-doolallyness) - yes
Margaret Thatcher (post-doolallyness) - yes
I think I have covered the range of prominent people. If you would like to add a celebrity, I will happily update the list.