Thursday, June 27, 2013

Speech in Canada is free unless it is "discriminatory"

That seems a very poor criterion.  If I say that Democrats are full of hate that surely is discriminatory.  Would that get me jailed in Canada?  Could be. --JR 

Guy Earle isn’t a famous comedian by any measure, but you may remember him from a few years back when he was dragged in front of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to face a complaint about some harsh homophobic remarks he tossed at a lesbian couple while hosting an open-mic night in Vancouver in 2007.

He claims Lorna Pardy was heckling him that night, but according to the tribunal, Earle actually began spitting venom when he saw her kiss her girlfriend.  Here’s just a smattering of what he said:

“Do you have a strap-on? You can take your girlfriend home and f— her in the a–.”

“You’re a fat ugly c—. No man will f— you; that’s why you’re a dyke. You fat c—.”

“Somebody shut her up. Put a c— in her mouth and shut her the f— up.”

It was shocking, offensive and mean-spirited, no doubt about it. But being offensive can sometimes be an integral part of great comedy. People like George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce all shocked mainstream audiences, and they’re remembered as comedic geniuses.

Guy Earle might like to place his behaviour that night in the company of those legendary acts, as a boundary-pushing piece of free speech. The tribunal didn’t see it that way, putting his “jokes” on the same level as Michael Richards’ n-word-laced rant instead.

Earle was ordered to pay Pardy $15,000 for discriminating against her and her partner and the restaurant hosting the event had to pony up another $7,500.

But Earle thought this wasn’t an example of unfair discrimination. He believed that his right to free speech had been trampled upon and filed a constitutional challenge with B.C. Supreme Court.

Earle argued that if that section of the code applies to a comedy act at a restaurant, then it amounts to censorship of the arts.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jon Sigurdson, on the other hand, disagreed and issued a decision this week finding that section of the code to be absolutely in line with the constitution.

The judge acknowledged that comedians — even really, really bad ones — deserve to have their freedom of expression protected.

But Sigurdson went on to say that the code “minimally impairs a person’s freedom of expression. It does not restrict speech generally, or artistic or comedic speech generally.”

The only time free speech is restricted by this section of the code is when the speech is discriminatory.

“I conclude that the benefit of prohibiting discrimination in the provision of a service customarily available to the public, including discrimination expressed in words such as those used by Mr. Earle, outweighs the detrimental effect of restricting expression in those circumstances,” Sigurdson wrote.

He also dismissed Earle’s petition for a judicial review of the tribunal’s decision and upheld the fines he was ordered to pay Pardy.



Anonymous said...

When it was created at UC Berkley, political correctness was intended, in part, to muffle that part of free speech that is deemed not acceptable by the Left. It has thrived because of the weakness and gullibility of societies that have (willfully and mindlessly) surrendered their right to think and speak freely.

Stefan v said...

Had the same stoush in class once. A pseudochristian leftie indoctrinatress blathered something about how one musn't discriminate. When I asked her why "to discern difference" was such a heinous crime, and whether she minded if I went to the toilet with her, she wasn't visibly impressed. As I get older, I am decreasingly patient with leftie foolishness. If I make it to 80 without being sent to the Gulag, I'll just beat them with my walking frame. Reason just doesn't work. Hmmm, now how can I conceal a silenced 12ga pumpie in a walker? Sometimes you just have to be cruel to be kind, and vermin control benefits the whole community. I suspect they feel the same way, but aren't courageous enough to admit it (yet).