Back in May, comedian Guy Earle was heckled while hosting a comedy night at Zesty’s Restaurant on Commercial Drive. Earle responded to the hecklers by launching into a slew of insults allegedly aimed at the sexuality of the hecklers, who were a lesbian couple. Lorna Pardy, one half of the couple, then filed a human-rights complaint against Earle, Zesty’s, and restaurant owner Salam Ismail. On June 24, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled that there is enough evidence for the case to be heard.
Is this political correctness gone too far? Certainly, by all accounts, Earle’s tirade was offensive and unfunny. (The comedian denies he discriminated.) But when does something cross the line from being merely offensive to being an affront to human rights? On the one hand, this does seem ridiculous: isn’t there a long tradition in comedy of comedians giving hecklers what-for? But then again, had Earle launched into a racist tirade, í la Michael Richards, we might not dismiss this episode as PC mania.
Watch Earle discuss the episode in an interview with fellow comics: