It's quite pleasing to see that the PCC have decided to give AA Gill the most terrifying punishment they can mete out - a tickle on the back of the legs with a feather duster - for calling Clare Balding a 'dyke on a bike'.
As I wrote at the time, the worst bit I found about the whole thing was that Balding had politely complained to Gill's boss, who essentially told her to get on her bike (do you see what I did there? Oh, please yourselves). Had anyone acted like an adult rather than a bunch of silly schoolboys then it could all have been resolved without troubling the scorers. But no, the Sunday Times decided to dig in.
I know that Roy Greenslade slightly disagrees with the judgement of the PCC, saying that there's a 'right to be wrong', but I don't. I think either you sign up to the PCC, and abide by the code, or you don't, and you don't have to. You can't get away with saying "Well, I did say I would abide by this code, but I don't agree with this bit of it, so I'm going to ignore it" because that kind of defeats the whole point of it. The PCC code isn't a buffet where you can pick and choose the bits you like (to complete the analogy, if I were at a buffet, it would be the cheese-and-pineapple and the chicken drumsticks) and ignore the bits you don't (quiche, obviously). That isn't the way these things work, I think.
If you accept that there needs to be regulation of the press - and that's the situation we have at the moment, with self-regulation through the PCC - then I don't think it makes sense to disagree with decisions that apply the code of regulation correctly. You can complain that the code is wrong, but the decision is right; or you can complain that the code is right, but the application of it is wrong in this instance; but I don't think it makes sense to complain that decision isn't right, if it's applying the code correctly. If we want to have an unregulated press or we would like the 'right to be wrong' enshrined in regulation to the extent where all PCC complaints might feasibly be made irrelevant, then that's another matter.
And besides, no-one has been 'denied' the right to be wrong in the slightest. AA Gill was stupid, and wrong, and infantile; but no-one stopped him from having his say. It's just that now his newspaper will have to print the PCC's decision. Will it put others off from being stupid, and wrong, and infantile? Probably not. And you'll excuse me if I don't shed too many tears if it does mean people can't chuck the word 'dyke' around without expecting to be pulled up for it.