Comedian Guy Earle has been called before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal for violating the human rights of a lesbian couple with insulting comments at a nightclub. Lorna Pardy, 32, filed the complaint after she was insulted at dinner with her partner. She alleges Earle, restaurant owner Salam Ismail and Zesty Food Services Inc. “discriminated against her in the provision of a service … on the basis of her sex and her sexual orientation.”
We have been following attacks on free speech in the West, including in Canada, here and here. Canada’s human rights tribunals have been at the center of the controversy over limits on free speech, here.
Comedy clubs are known for often bawdy and offensive speech. What is interesting in this case is that the complaining party actually elevated the dispute to the point of physical contact by throwing water in the face of the comedian. There may be a legitimate basis for complaint by these women, but to elevate the matter to a human rights violation with claims of post-traumatic stress seems a bit over the top.
We saw a vile racist outburst by Michael Richards (aka Kramer) recently in a confrontation with hecklers:
The incident ruined his career but it was not made into a human rights matter.
B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Murray Geiger-Adams refused demands by Earle’s lawyer to consider challenges based on free speech and jurisdictional questions. Earle’s lawyer stormed out of the hearing.
Earle says that Pardy was heckling him and that he responded by swearing at her.
Pardy said that the incident occurred during open-mic night at Zesty’s Restaurant on an open-microphone comedy night. She says that during the argument the women were called “dykes, bitches and c—.” She admits that she threw water in Earle’s face in order “to snap him out of whatever rage he was in.” She claims to have suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome since the May 2007 incident.
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