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Friday, September 17, 2010 

How the Press Complaints Commission works.

The Press Complaints Commission is nothing if not consistent. It upheld the complaint made by Clare Balding precisely because AA Gill referred to her as a "dyke", a "pejorative synonym relating to the complainant’s sexuality" as the adjudication described it, despite the Times making the case that in some instances "dyke" had been reclaimed as an empowering term. Arguably Gill's remarks were made in jest and without real malice, yet Balding more than understandably was within her rights to find them as insulting.

When however the homophobia is even more blatant, yet hidden behind weasel words, the PCC is powerless as its code only covers those "pejorative synonyms". Hence the complaints about Jan Moir's heartless piece of grief intrusion were rejected as she didn't make the mistake of referring to him as a "faggot" or "queer", while Iain Dale's objection to the Daily Mail's Ephraim Hardcastle column describing him as "overtly gay" as well as commenting that it was "charming how homosexuals rally like-minded chaps to their cause' was not upheld on the same grounds. The lesson is clear: don't be obvious when you want to reveal your distaste about homosexuals, just hide it behind a thin veil of obfuscatory language and they won't be able to touch you.

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This was before your time (late 70s), but I remember a police race relations specialist getting up at a press conference to announce that he was in charge of relations with "our coloured brethren, or nig-nogs". And then sitting down again rather quickly. He got moved to other duties sharpish, but what I remember is the letter in the Graun the next day, pointing out that the fake politeness of "our coloured brethren" is actually just as strong a signal of racism. Ephraim Hardcastle and his charming homosexuals, same thing. The PCC clearly haven't caught up yet.

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