Lighten Up, Homo: Ross Cleared of Offending You


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.

Jonathan_Ross_744247571 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.


  1. DP says

    To be clear, it was not “gay people” who “were way too easily offended.” It was a few eternally aggrieved gay people. Most of us can deal with an off-color joke.

  2. Mike says

    Just to be fair, he didn’t say “put up for adoption” he said “put down for adoption in later life when they settle down with their partner”. I still think it’s offensive, but if we’re going to get angry we should get angry for the right reasons.

    Listen for yourself:

  3. Mike says

    Hmm… This doesn’t seem that offensive. He obviously meant it in jest, and if we pounce on any joke made that may be the slightest bit offensive when taken out of context, then we will have to outlaw humor.

    If were gonna censor content “for the kids” then maybe we should censor gay subjectmatter “for the kids” too. Id rather not go down that road. This is the exact kind of things religious groups are terrified of and our poutrage just gives them the ammo.

  4. Jordan says

    The only thing offensive here is the very concept of a broadcasting code.

    It is hard to criticize those humorless fools who expressed outrage at Ross’s remarks – their cognitive development has clearly been stunted. We should pity them, if anything.

  5. GregV says

    I think we are assuming that he meant to suggest that if a son is gay, he should be rejected by his parents and unwellcome as a member of the family (a real life experience for millions of gay kids, some of whom have suffered or committed suicide as a result).
    And yet he says he did not mean anything homophobic.

    I’m all ears, but if that isn’t what he meant, then why didn’t he clarify whatever the heck else that could have meant?

    What does bringing a partner home have to do with Hannah Montana if it wasn’t a gay slur? Did he mean to refer to a boy bringing home a partner who is opposite-sex and if so, how do0 we make sense of what he said?

    It’s not enough to say it wasn’t a gay slur if he doesn’t clarify what otherwise would be even more nonsensical. And still just as unfunny.

  6. Lars says

    Political correctness taken to the level of absurdity, if you ask me.
    The Pope and the religious right get away with saying much more sinister and bigoted things, and their comments are not meant in jest.

  7. Greg says

    I think it was an unfortunate slip in judgement and Jonathan Ross risks these all the time in his various regular appearances – his “act” is all about being slightly inappropriate, “off the cuff” and “on the edge” and has got him into trouble before. I tend to believe him that he doesn’t consider himself to be homophobic and probably has many friends who are gay…etc. I also believe him when he says he’s mortified.

    However…. I believe it was a joke that would be seen as supportive to any homophobic listener and which should certainly have been apologized for as a thoughtless remark.

    I wish people the world over would stop and think when they hear themselves say “I didn’t mean that to be homophobic”. It’s all very well claiming that the intention is all that matters. The battle will be won when people like Jonathan Ross can see how their words might be understood by someone anti-gay.

    If this was a case of Racism I suspect people would find it suddenly a lot easier to understand. No-one could get away with the “I didn’t mean it in a racist way” argument these days, surely?

  8. Marc says

    He actually repeated the joke on his TV chat show as well with slightly different language and I laughed. It was funny. Jonathan Ross is far from homophobic.

    Anyone who has seen his show knows his house band is called “4 poofs and a piano” (self-named, they are all gay and do a great comedy cabaret show if you ever get a chance to see it while in London). He’s clearly friends with them and has other gay friends. Just the other day he plugged their comedy show for them when they clearly weren’t expecting him too.

    He says stupid stuff all the time (part of his humour, but one thing he definitely is not, is homophobic.

  9. Jon C says

    I find Jonathan Ross offensive in any circumstances. The fact he is paid £18 million of British licence-fee money is disgusting in the extreme.

  10. Matt says

    Ross’ comments were insensitive and in poor taste, but truly offensive is that there is some organization claiming the power to dictate what reactions I can have to comments on TV.

  11. says

    it’s just sad that as a whole, we gay people are so used to being bullied and made fun of, we think we have to take it. we’ve learned to take it. WELL I’VE LEARNED NOT TO TAKE IT. i’ve never even come close to saying anything that could be construed as a racist joke, i’ve never had anything i’ve said be confused with anti-Semitism. i expect, no i DEMAND that people with the microphone treat me with the same respect. one doesn’t accidentally make fun of gay people. they feel it’s just fine. IT ISN’T.

  12. Lubin Odana says

    As an adult, I was not offended by Ross’s remarks. I have the maturity to know the difference between joking and actual homophobia.

    Sadly though, not everyone who listens to Ross is likely to have the sophistication to do this. There are millions of ignorant or very young people in the UK. Ross needs to take his multiple and wide ranging audience into account. His remarks will have helped to condone the subordination of young boys who are not traditionally masculine.

    I wish everyone who responds to these articles by saying “Well I wasn’t offnded so I don’t see what all the fuss was about” would stop being so egocentric and realise that theirs isn’t the only viewpoint in the world. Typical self-absorbed queens.

    As for Ross’s group Four Puffs and a Piano. They are awful. The gay equivalent of Uncle Toms. Ross merrily belittles them for the amusement of a mainly straight audience.

    Ross is one of the best-paid people in the UK. For the amount of money he gets, he should know better. And despite Ofcom’s feeble yet predictable response (they always say the same thing), it is interesting that the BBC have now banned Ross from doing live shows. They KNOW he’s a twat who can’t be trusted, even if they’re scared to admit it.

    Oh, and calling people like me who complain about people like Ross as over-sensitive only makes us more determined – as if makes us realise that we have to work harder to fight the complacency and ignorance within our own culture. Do you people just skip over the posts on this site about homophobic murders and beatings? Why do you think those things happen? Can you join the dots and see how it’s all related?

  13. Stunpig says

    Had this comment been made about black/Jewis children, would he have gotten away with it? Of course not.
    Also, we’re talking about bullying, here – bullying of gay children, an incredibly vulnerable demographic who often have nowhere to turn, not even their parents. It’s well known suicide rates amongst gay children are the highest in their age group. I’m appalled this ‘off the cuff’ remark has been dismissed as mere ‘jest’, when the repurcussions could be huge.
    Jonathan Ross is a despicable pest who really ought to go.
    These people have the right idea…

  14. SpartanofAuburn says

    We have really got to reign in the PC police that are attempting to speak for the rest of us. Humorous, insensitive, tacky and homophobic are all VERY subjective terms.

    As a gay man that lives in a VERY small community, a place that is riddled with actual homophobia and religious hatred, I can promise you that stupid jokes are not our problems. We are still being beaten up here and the cops push our attacks under the rug. If all of the attention that these scary words are getting, was applied to helping us openly exist, a lot more would be accomplished than anything this censorship will.

    You can call me whatever words you want in jest or hatred, they mean nothing to me. The sounds formed by your lips hold no more power over me than the thoughts of an apple tree or the farts of a dead fish.

    Freedom of speech means that people can say things you hate and you have to accept it and move on. Barring the condoning of violence, they are well within their right. We cant seriously demand rights when we are infringing on the rights of others.

    And calling people self absorbed queens is a lot more offensive than the joke this man made. If you are going to force the rest of us to cry when we hear certain words, you are going to be held to the same standards.

    When you apologize for your “hateful and offensive” words, you will earn the credibility your post claims to support. To call people egocentric because they don’t subscribe to your particular brand of PC flavor, while claiming they are ignorant and must agree with your ideology is the most ironic statement I have heard all day. I would even go as far as to say that your exact sentence, could be an example in the dictionary, as to how irony could best be viewed in a sentence.

    I am in no way claiming my view is right or universally correct, but I am not demanding you stop being offended by simple words either. Live and let live, there is a lot more going on that needs our attention than silly words.

    Everything offends someone around the world and if we are to respect everyones feelings, language would be obsolete. Some people hate the term gay and prefer queer, others find queer offensive. Some people are offended by the forced term cisgendered or cissexual, while some people openly use them. Some people like the title womyn, instead of woman, while others find it to be mindless nonsense. My boyfriend does not like the term African American and prefers black, while others find black to be offensive. So who is right here? Shouldnt we let everyone decide how they feel about language on their own? How is it fair to force the rest of us to conform to your personal demons? If this man wants to laugh at feminine, queeny, lisping drag queens – well he can do as he wishes. Just as he is free to make fun of interacial couples with black children living under the poverty line. I would suggest that some of you grow some thicker skin or you will find the world incredibly difficult. If everything is homophobic and racist, then those terms lose their definition and ability to combat ACTUAL homophobia and racism.

    As a financially strapped gay man, raising a black child, I can promise you that my inability to get married and legally reconcile my family, is alot more dangerous to our happiness than words.

    Also… twat… really? You are upset over a boring joke and decide the best way to handle your pain is to call someone a twat? I can promise you that if a group of people were asked to check your post and this comedians joke for perceived offensive attitudes, the majority of them would choose yours. Its hard to scream about the fire when you have matches in your hand.

  15. DG says

    Agreed. Lighten up boys – let it go. It was funny. Im tired of all the gay police making a big deal out of anything anyone says that might even possibly be called “offensive”. Save your arm waving for things that really matter – and when people really are being hateful and mean spirited. Learn the difference.

  16. says

    This isn’t about offended fragile gays, but about the type of casual disrespect Gays can continue to expect from a certain status of comedian. Working the conservative, blue-haired market is Ross’ bread & butter, he knows that he can say anything anti-queer to them and get away with it. Just like Spike Lee can use the word Faggot in every movie and know he’s safe. His audience, like Ross’ don’t see the underlying discrimination issue.
    Still, Kudos’ to all who called Ross on his statements. Yeah, this isn’t the biggest gay issue on the radar, but if they had the time and energy to respond, to remind all public speakers that anti-gay comments won’t be tolerated, we are all better off.

  17. Derrick from Philly says

    “Just like Spike Lee can use the word Faggot in every movie and know he’s safe. His audience, like Ross’ don’t see the underlying discrimination issue.”

    I believe Spike’s characters use the word “nigger” as much as they do “faggot”. If you want your film, novel, play to show how dispicable most human beings are then you must let the shit that comes out of their mouths in real life come out in your work of fiction.

    “how dispicable most human beings are”
    Oh, my God, did I say that? These blogs haven’t been good for me. And people wonder how one can become a “bitter ol’ queen”?–by not having “thick skin” when dealing with other gay people, that’s how? Too many gay people’s views and comments can be as pompous and judgemental as those that come from straight motha’ fuckas when they make gay-bashing comments.

    I hate everybody–straight and gay…everybody except CRISPY.

  18. Eric James says

    This sort of jokey homophobia is more dangerous than the crass variety, I would say. There’s nothing funny in sending the message to undercover gay children – this is a family show, after all – that if their parents find out they are gay, they won’t want them. The vilest kind of joke. And while he has a band on his TV show called Four Poofs and a Piano, who he ridicules on a weekly basis, when they were away he still made a jibe and did not once mention that the replacement band was all black. Until he has Four Niggers and a Harmonica on his show, I will assume homophobia and not edgy humour.

  19. Atheist says

    “Working the conservative, blue-haired market is Ross’ bread & butter, he knows that he can say anything anti-queer to them and get away with it”.

    Are you kidding me?? this is complete and utter nonsense. I just checked your website and you’re not even a UK resident so you’re not in a position to judge and condemn. Being a UK resident is relevant to this issue because Ross’s specific type of humour doesn’t always travel well. Fact is, Ross takes the piss out of EVERYBODY – like it or not. No-one is immune. He deliberately winds up Hollywood stars to get a reaction from them. His act is provocative and designed to have the audience laughing at him (i.e. his stupidity) rather than the subject of his humour. To say that he is playing to the tory, blue-rinse crowd is about as wide of the mark as you can get. In fact, the blue rinsers are exactly the sort of people who dislike him. His audience is a younger, mixed bag of people.

    I understand why people might find what he said offensive; it is understandable. He walks a fine line. If he was only making jokes about gays it would be one thing but everyone gets it in the ear from him. He certainly isnt homophobic. On more than one occasion, I have heard him talk about the joys of “man-love” to some of his radio guests. If John Barrowman isn’t offended and can laugh at Ross’s deliberate winding-up, then i can go with that.

    SpartanofAuburn – My heart sank when I read you post. One thing strikes me; things changed much more quickly in the UK when an increasing number of public figures came out of the closet; there are many now. Now it is not considered acceptable or cool to be homophobic. I work for a major public sector organisation and we recently sacked someone for making a remark which didn’t even approach the ghastly “faggot” for sheer nastiness. Thank god we have no truck with it.

  20. Willie says

    It is obviously a statement of “normalcy” begin that having your child be gay is a bad thing …. and that to gay people is of course offensive — no it should not be promoted in the media.

  21. Ray says

    It’s truly sad to see pathetic people believe that these kinds of jokes at the expense of gays are acceptable on ANY level, especially by the readers of this website. You are supposed to be out and proud of your sexual orientation. Instead, you choose to laugh at your brothers and sisters along with the homophobic assholes of the world. Shame on you, pathetic spartanwhatever.

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