It's Canada Day, and today I'd like to talk a little about our Charter Right to Freedom of Speech. It's a Right that is under increasing attack by a set of quasi-judicial boards that like to think of themselves as "great equalizers". More like "great stupid people". Really.
What else can you call rewarding lesbian Lorna Pardy with $22,500 just because her "feelings were hurt", claims of post traumatic stress disorder aside, of course?
Guy Earle is a stand-up comic. He's used to hecklers, and he's used to dealing with them effectively. Sometimes that involves ridiculing them, sometimes it means calling them names, and sometimes it even means being downright rude to them.
It's all part of the life of a stand-up comic.
Right up until one of the people who heckled you takes you before the BC Human Rights Tribunal (HRT), that is.
The name itself is a misnomer. The BC Human Rights Tribunal wouldn't know a human right if it tripped over one on Granville Street.
In Earle's case, this asinine quasi-court awarded Lorna Pardy, the alleged victim of Earle's verbal quips, $22,500 at the expense of Guy Earle ($15,000) and Zesty's Restaurant ($7,500) for her "hurt feelings".
Obviously the morons at the BC Human Rights Tribunal didn't get the memo (or any common sense), which I wrote about when the ruling in Earle's case first came out.
"Hurt Feelings" isn't a violation of anyone's human rights. There is no "right" not to have our feelings hurt. If someone is stupid enough to heckle a stand-up comedian... well... they need to understand there are consequences to those actions... namely your feelings are definitely going to get hurt!
Does that mean you should be awarded $22,500?
No, of course not. That's absurd.
And absurd is exactly what the BC Human Rights Tribunal is, a fact that Guy Earle and his lawyer hope to make to BC Supreme Court, where they hope to get Section 8 of the Human Rights Code struck down as unconstitutional.
In the event that the BC Supreme Court can't figure this out correctly, Earle is offering them an alternative: declare that Section 8 was never intended to apply to the content of Arts and Entertainment.
This section of the Human Rights Code must be declared unconstitutional. (I think the entire thing should be repealed, but that's another story.) If Section 8 is allowed to stand, then our Charter Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression is utterly meaningless.
If a comedian cannot challenge a heckler and put them in their place, all of which is part of the comedy act on stage, then what right does anyone have to say anything, anywhere, at any time?
Should I be hauled before the BC Human Rights Tribunal for expressing my opinion about the seemingly gold-digging character of Lorna Pardy? She is, after all, the one who brought this matter before a public forum. Should I be charged $15,000 if I dare make comment on her, her sexuality or her actions on the evening in question?
Naturally Lorna Pardy denies doing anything to spark Earle's tirade. Naturally the HRT sided with the lesbian who claimed she suffered post traumatic stress disorder as a result of Guy Earle's comments.
But then so is the BC Human Rights Tribunal and practically every ruling that's ever emanated from it. These are the same yahoos who tried to rake columnist Mark Steyn and Maclean's Magazine over the coals for daring to write about the Muslim faith.
The only thing that stopped them in that case was a) the large wallet of Maclean's Magazine and b) Mark Steyn's willingness to say what he felt about the BC Human Rights Tribunal. Public outcry was swift and harsh. The moron squad backed down almost instantly, although they could never quite bring themselves to actually admit they'd done anything wrong.
Typical bureaucratic mentality there... They'd rather kill themselves than admit they actually screwed up.
I must put my faith in BC's Supreme Court in the hopes they will get this one right and protect our Charter Right to Freedom of Speech.
Even if we happen to offend someone... say a lesbian making out with her girlfriend in the front row of a comedy club... in the process of exercising that Right to Freedom of Speech.