Modified On August 8, 2012
When we last checked in on Guy Earle, the comedian who was hauled before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for an incident at a Vancouver open mike night, he was living in Nova Scotia with his wife and new baby. And he was determined to salvage something out of the whole ordeal– “to show the Supreme Court that there exists a conflict between the HRT code and the Canadian Charter of Freedom.”
We mistakenly believed the matter to be settled.
This morning, however, our readers sent along some links to various articles that told of Earle being ordered to fork over the equivalent of $15,745 US to the aggrieved party.
From the Vancouver Sun’s Business section:
Stand-up comedian Guy Earl was ordered to pay the money to Lorna Pardy, 32, while the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal also ordered the Vancouver restaurant owner, Salam Ishmail, to pay her $7,500.
The cash, said tribunal member Murray Geiger-Adams, was for “lost wages and for injury to dignity, feelings and self respect.”
Finding sensible comment on the incident is an exceedingly difficult task. One opinion, from an alleged comedian and “political activist” named Charles Demers, seems, at the outset, to be on the mark:
“This ruling is going to have an impact on professional comics who are now going to have a harder time starting up in new venues,” Demers said.
“They’re going to have a harder time getting restaurants and bars to start up comedy nights because now [the restaurants and bars are] going to be worried that they’re on the hook.”
Gee, do ya think? But then Demers veers into gross stupidity when he adds that, while this might raise free speech issues as they relate to comedy and while the cash settlement might curtail any adventurous open mike nights, he is, he says
“as much invested in the fight against homophobia as in the fight for comedy,” and wouldn’t want to align himself with someone making hateful, homophobic comments.
Similar claptrap is offered by “Vancouver-based comedian and promoter” Donovan Mahoney who says “Mean spirited stuff, I’ve seen people do it and I kind of cringe, because in my mind, comedy is very smart. A good comic is smart.”
The quotes from “comedic performer” Ruven Klausner tower over the others for their clarity and their blessed lack of P.C. back-pedaling and qualification. Earle didn’t violate anyone’s human rights, says Klausner.
“He might have violated her sense of entertainment, but we all have to endure that sometimes when we go to comedy shows,” Klausner said with a laugh.
Then the commentary lurches back into profound ignorance.
Gregg Scott, who did standup for several years, said it seemed Earle’s biggest mistake was that he wasn’t funny.
Congratulations, Vancouver (and Canadian) comedians. You now have a set of rules when you mount the stage. And here’s the best part: You have no idea what they might be.
When you defend free speech you gotta go big or go home. If you cede any sort of victory (no matter how tiny) to the weasels who seek to curtail your speech, you have lost. If you walk away from a fight like this one saying, as Gregg Scott does, “there still are a number of approaches to take before slandering — [such as] being funny,” then you have handed the folks on the other side of the issue a huge victory. Because there is no way to objectively determine “what is funny.”
Therefore… anyone who mounts the stage is subject to this mushy criteria. And is therefore subject to prosecution/persecution.
It is absolutely essential to fight and scrape for every inch of territory surrounding that stage (and the speech that emanates from it) and declare it free from any actions by the state. Not only is it free speech, it’s speech in the name of art.
These nitwits (the ones who seek to differentiate themselves from Guy Earle… we’re looking at you, Gregg Scott and Charles Demers) mistakenly believe that by throwing Guy Earle under the bus, they’ve created some sort of firewall that will save them should they offend the wrong person.
Aside from the obvious chilling effect among entrepreneurs– what venue owner in his right mind would now risk $7,500 to put on an open mike?– there is the very real free speech issue.
And the performers, proprietors and others who do anything– ANYTHING– less than offer an unqualified defense of Earle’s (and anyone else who delivers speech in a comedy show format) is actually doing the bidding of these bureacrats.
What will you do when that Muslim/Christian/Canadian bit of yours– the one that perfectly fits the neat criteria of Messrs. Donovan and Scott above– is adjudged to be “vulgar” and also is deemed by one patron or another to have “attacked (insert plaintiff’s name here)’s identity and dignity as a Muslim/Christian/Canadian and a man?”
You will probably wished that you had fought more vigorously for Mr. Earle’s rights because his rights are yours as well.
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FB pal Brian Scolaro posted the video below in his status update and urged folks to “SHOW SUPPORT FOR THIS COMEDIAN HOWEVER YOU CAN.”
The interviewer, Ezra Levant, was harassed by an entirely different “Human Rights Commission” for publishing the famous Muhammed cartoons in his publication, the Western Standard.