British TV host Jonathan Ross has been found "not in breach" of the broadcasting code for remarks he made in May on his Radio 2 show that parents might want to put any Hannah Montana-loving sons up for adoption before they bring a "partner" home.
The ruling by Ofcom, which monitors offensive comments on the air, said in part, "The comment was clearly presented as a joke intended to make light of the reactions that some parents have if their child chooses a toy that is very widely recognised to be designed and marketed for the opposite sex…The fact that this comment was intended to be a joke was illustrated further by the reaction from Andy Davies, who was heard laughing."
So apparently if you're joking, it's impossible to offend or cause harm.
Gay-rights advocate Derek Munn said, "The fact that a comment is light-hearted does not absolve it from perpetuating the stereotypes that lead to homophobic bullying, which is reflected in the 61 separate complaints listeners made."
For his part, Ross Tweeted after the incident, "Am mortified to hear some people thought I was being homophobic on Radio show. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I am sure most know."
Whether you think this is a case where gay people were way too easily offended or a case of clear-cut homophobic humor, the Ofcom ruling's reasoning regarding humor, the intent to offend and the potential for children to imitate the remark on the playground is, well, a joke. As is Ross's sincere belief that just because one is not a card-carrying homophobe, it's impossible to say or do anything to offend gay people.