This entry was posted on Friday, September 17th, 2010 at 11:47 am and is filed under Bad motoring. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
The Press Complaints Commission has just ruled in favour of Clare Balding after she claimed the Sunday Times columnist AA Gill had breached the discrimination clause of the Editors’ Code of Practice. In reviewing Balding’s TV programme Britain by Bike, AA Gill said Balding was a “dyke on a bike.”
The PCC’s adjudication reads:
“The right to legitimate freedom of expression is a key part of an open and democratic society and something which the Commission has sought to defend in the past. In this case, the columnist was clearly entitled to his opinion about both the programme and the complainant. As the paper had pointed out, the Commission has previously upheld his right to offer such opinions in his columns. Of course, freedom of expression is – and should be – appropriately restricted by the Editors’ Code of Practice. Clause 12 of the Code is clear: newspapers must avoid prejudicial, pejorative or irrelevant reference to (amongst other things) an individual’s sexual orientation.”
All fine and good but this is the same PCC which decided that a “joke” about decapitating cyclists in the same newspaper was perfectly acceptable. Columnist Matthew Parris wrote his hilarious column in December 2007, claiming that cyclists were the main cause of countryside litter and should be killed.
His column started:
“A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists.”
Now, should another columnist have written “A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate homosexuals,” it’s clear the PCC would have clamped down hard with its gummy mouth but calling for the death of cyclists was fair game.
In 2008, the PCC wrote:
“584 people complained about a comment piece article in The Times by Matthew Parris, published on 27 December 2007, headlined “What’s smug and deserves to be decapitated?”. The complainants were mostly cycling enthusiasts objecting to the suggestion that piano wire be strung across country lanes to decapitate cyclists, as a punishment for littering the countryside. The Commission said that the Code of Practice had not been breached, although it was pleased that Mr Parris had apologised for his comments.”