Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The PCC says it's ok to write homophobic lies

Last month, the God fearing homophobe Melanie Phillips of the Daily Mail wrote an article about gay people that was almost comedy. It mean it what almost as if me and my friend Christian had come up with the idea of a hardcore Christian homophobic character and then proceeded to write an article in the style of this character. It was truly horrendous. I guess her original target was the two gay men who sued that couple who owned the b and b, but it soon descended on every gay person, that they all have a "gay agenda" and that they are trying to turn us all gay. Absurd.

For more information on the outrageous lies, I refer you to the fantastic sites:,people,news,melanie-phillips-gay-agenda-column-for-the-daily-mail-outrages-twitter

There are also many more if you search for them, which totally rip her article apart, I guess that shows how angry people have got because of it, gay and straight people!

 Anyway I complained to the PCC, and have now received a reply, which basically says that because it was a comment piece, she can write whatever she likes! Below is their reply:

Further to our previous correspondence, the Commission has now made its assessment of your complaint under the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The Commission members have asked me to thank you for giving them the opportunity to consider the points you raise.  However, their decision is that there has been no breach of the Code in this case. A full explanation of the Commission’s decision is attached.

Although the Commissioners have come to this view, they have asked me to send a copy of your letter to the editor so that he is aware of your concerns.

If you are dissatisfied with the way in which your complaint has been handled you should write within one month to the Independent Reviewer, whose details can be found in our How to Complain leaflet or on the PCC website at the following link:

Thank you for taking this matter up with us.

Yours sincerely

Elizabeth Cobbe

Commission’s decision in the case of
Various v Daily Mail

The Commission received over sixty five complaints about the article “Yes, gays have often been the victims of prejudice. But they now risk becoming the new McCarthyites”. Virtually all the complainants found it to be discriminatory towards homosexual people, and many considered it to be highly offensive.

A number of complainants raised additional concerns that the article was in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code. Several believed that the columnist had failed to distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact, while others considered that some of her statements were either incorrect or misleading.

Firstly, the Commission fully acknowledged the complainants’ concerns about the article and accepted that many readers strongly disagreed with the views expressed by the columnist about attitudes to homosexuality and her position on matters relating to equality. However, under the terms of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code, newspapers are entitled to publish the views of individuals – however robust or controversial – provided that they are clearly distinguished from fact. The article had clearly been presented as a comment piece both in the print edition of the newspaper and on its website, and it was satisfied that readers would be aware that the article reflected the personal opinions of the columnist. It considered that the assertions that the introduction of references to homosexual people was intended to “brainwash children”, that they were being “bombarded” by such references, that there was a “gay agenda” and that there was a “concept of normal sexual behaviour” were clearly presented as representing her own, candid opinions, and it did not consider that readers would be misled into understanding that there was an established “gay agenda” or “ruthless campaign”. Similarly, while it comprehended the complainants’ objections to the claim that such references were “an abuse of childhood”, it did not consider readers would understand this to be anything but her own views on the matter. The Commission was satisfied that readers generally would be aware that these assertions did not amount to statements of fact, but rather the columnist’s robust views.

A number of complainants considered that the article was misleading, particularly in regard to the reporting of the introduction of references to homosexuals in school subjects. They pointed out that this was an initiative suggested as part of LGBT History Month and not, as implied, a permanent addition to the national curriculum or an obligatory exercise. The complainants considered that this should have been made clear. The Commission acknowledged the complainants’ concerns that the context of these references was relevant. However, it considered that readers would be aware that the purpose of the article was not to give a full explanation of such measures – it was not a news article – but rather for the columnist to express her views on them. It noted that the article contained relatively little information about the introduction of the references to issues relating to homosexuality and, in the absence of information, it did not consider that readers would be misled into understanding that such measures were to be adopted permanently as part of the national curriculum. That these references were part of a “Government-backed drive to promote the gay agenda” was, in the view of the Commission, clearly the columnist’s opinion based on the grant issued by the Training and Development Agency for Schools. It could not establish a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) on this point.

Some complainants were also concerned that the reference to the reports carried out by the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had also been taken out of context. Given that the complainants had not expressed concern that the references were inaccurate or explained on what grounds they considered the references to be misleading, the Commission could establish a breach of Clause 1 of the Code on this point. In any case, it generally only considers complaints from those directly affected by the matter about which they complained. In this instance, it would require a complaint from the representative of either the Department for Transport or the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in order to establish whether they considered that their reports had been misrepresented.

Three complainants had expressed further concern over the statement that Catholic adoption agencies and marriage registrars had been “forced to shut down” after refusing to place children with same-sex couples. Bearing in mind the requirements of anti-discrimination laws, the Commission did not consider the assertion that they had been forced to close down was significantly misleading as to the situation. The statement was not in breach of the Code.

In regard to the complainants’ concerns that the article should have made clear that the Bulls’ actions were against the law, the Commission noted that the article made clear that they had fallen “foul of the law”. It did not consider that readers generally would understand from the columnist’s view on the matter that the Bulls’ actions had been lawful, but rather that the columnist considered that they had merely been “upholding Christian values”. In regard to the claim that the Bulls had been “sued”, given that the couple were claiming damages under the Equality Act, it did not consider that readers would be significantly misled. Similarly, the Commission did not consider that the absence of reference to Dr Raabe’s comments in regard to homosexuality and paedophilia would mislead readers. Given that the article made clear that there were objections to his appointment due to his views on homosexuality, the Commission did not consider that the absence of further information would mislead readers as to the situation. It could not establish a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code.

Two complainants claimed that the reference to male animals that take a leading role in raising young children was not a reference to homosexuality. The Commission noted that the columnist had been giving examples of suggestions as part of LGBT History Month. The complainant had not expressed concern that the columnist had incorrectly reported these suggestions – but rather objected to the suggestion in itself – and therefore the Commission could not establish a breach of the Code on this point.

The complainants were predominantly concerned that the article discriminated against homosexual people, and implied that their sexual orientation was abnormal and inferior to heterosexuality. Two complainants also expressed similar concerns about  the article the following week “The calls for me to be killed this week prove the bedrock values of our society are in grave danger”. The Commission understood the grounds for the complaints. However, it made clear that, while Clause 12 (Discrimination) prevents newspapers from making prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s sexual orientation, it does not cover comments about groups or categories of people. Given that the complainants considered that the articles discriminated against homosexual people in general, the Commission could not establish a breach of Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

Some complainants were concerned that the article discriminated specifically against Steven Preddy and Martin Hall. The Commission considered that it would require the direct involvement of these individuals, or their official representative, in order to establish whether they considered that the article had discriminated against them. In the absence of such involvement, it could not comment on this matter further.

One complainant looked to engage Clauses 4 (Harassment), 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and 6 (Children), however, she had not explained specifically on what grounds she considered that they had been breached. There had been no suggestion that the journalist had behaved in such a manner as to engage Clause 4, and the Commission did not consider that the article intruded into an individual’s personal grief or shock in such a way that would amount to a breach of Clause 5 of the Code. Clause 6 (Children) was designed to protect the private lives of children from intrusion by the press. Given that the article did not make reference to a particular child, it could not establish a breach of the Code.

Finally, the Commission fully understood that the complainants had found the article to be highly offensive. However, it made clear that the terms of the Editors’ Code of Practice do not address issues of taste and offence. The Code is designed to address the potentially competing rights of freedom of expression and other rights of individuals, such as privacy. Newspapers and magazines have editorial freedom to publish what they consider to be appropriate provided that the rights of individuals – enshrined in the terms of the Code which specifically defines and protects these rights – are not compromised.  To come to an inevitably subjective judgement as to whether such material is tasteless or offensive would amount to the Commission acting as a moral arbiter, which can lead to censorship. It could not, therefore, comment on this aspect of the complaints further.

Reference No. Various

Elizabeth Cobbe
Complaints Officer

Press Complaints Commission
Halton House
20/23 Holborn
London EC1N 2JD

Tel: 020 7831 0022

Obviously I am wanting free speech for everyone in this country, including the press but not to an extent where national newspaper columnists are free to spread lies and hate about minorities. I guess it is a grey area, but I thought homophobia mostly got left behind in the 80's. I thought they were just concentrating on the Muslims now!

I guess the only thing we can do is keep on spreading the message about the tabloids' lies. Cunts.

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