A column slagging Boyzone’s Stephen Gately, a gay man, after his recent and untimely death in a Spanish hotel room has prompted the most complaints ever — 22,000 — to Britain’s Press Complaints Commission. Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir decided to use Gately as a poster boy for the wages of homosexual sin, these days a tired little trope for many, but clearly not for all.
Gately, 33, died in Mallorca, a Balearic island that, for some, remains another symbol of hedonistic decadence — while an autopsy found he’d died of pulmonary edema.
The PCC’s code contains 16 categories of offenses, from giving gory details of a suicide to sneaking into a hospital, unidentified, as a reporter, a trick one Daily News colleague of mine used successfully. While the Council has no punitive or regulatory power, it at least explicitly names and codifies some of the abuses — the ones that drive highly-profitable editorial decisions made in every newsroom every day. In the endless race for eyeballs and dollars, ethics, apparently, be damned.