Debate grows over comedian Guy Earle

Calgary lawyer and right-wing activist Ezra Levant’s sides aren’t splitting over this week’s B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case involving stand-up comic Guy Earle.

“I do not want to live in a country where there is a ”˜joketester general’, to whom we must all answer for our taste and aesthetic senses,” Levant, author of Shakedown: How Our Government Is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights (McLelland & Stewart, 2009), told the Straight. “I would like to live in a country where a wide range of humour and comedy and expression is allowed by law, and that any disciplining is done through peer pressure and the free market of ideas, rather than”¦the state.”

However, barbara findlay, a lesbian lawyer, told the Straight that “you can’t hide under the cover of freedom of speech” if you attack a minority whose rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Because equality on the basis of sexual orientation was enshrined last, findlay said, some believe “it’s okay” to make homophobic jokes because of charter guarantees around freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

“We the lesbians and gay men get to say, ”˜Wait a minute. How come you get to believe something and your belief restricts my actions?’ We don’t think that’s right,” findlay said.

The four-day hearing was originally scheduled to wrap up today (April 1). But on its opening day, March 29, Earle’s lawyer, James Millar, walked out, citing the charter.

In May 2007, Earle, now based in rural Ontario, volunteered as emcee at the Vancouver eatery Zesty’s Restaurant for an open-mike comedy show. According to tribunal documents, Lorna Pardy alleged she and her partner were subjected to “a tirade of homophobic and sexist comments by Mr. Earle” during the show. Earle has denied discriminating against Purdy.

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18 Comments

Jeremy

Apr 1, 2010 at 11:32am

I guess the main thing I don't agree with in this whole situation is that it seems that Ms. Pardy is taking action because someone was mean to her. Using these tribunals to redress moments where people have been, well, an @$$hole, turns them from bodies designed to rectify actual discrimination into kangaroo courts that attempt to assuage hurt feelings. I'm sorry Ms. Pardy was subjected to seemingly ill treatment, but she could have simply left the establishment, or complained to management. Taking it to a tribunal is the equivalent of me getting called a "fag" by someone in traffic and then taking them to court. It's frivolous and it cheapens the process.

Goat Boy ©

Apr 1, 2010 at 12:53pm

How inaccurate can this be?

He freely admits to breaking her sunglasses, and making inappropriate remarks.

She instigated the inappropriate remarks by heckling.

The fact that this case is even heard by the kangaroo court is disgusting.

Jimbo

Apr 1, 2010 at 9:15pm

So, do I get to sue the Straight because I find Savage's columns hurtful and offensive?

Gonzo

Apr 2, 2010 at 12:09am

As a newfie does this mean I get to sue people who make newfie jokes?

BC Mom

Apr 2, 2010 at 8:41am

I've been to a comedy show (years ago) in Van where I was harshly heckled as a 'breeder', 'blowing my man for permission to go out', 'fag hag' and living in the 'inbred burbs'...I gotta admit, it really stung BUT! I remember thinking to myself that I could expect no less being at a venue where ridiculing the general public was a common occurance and being stupid enough to engage the comic.

Note to Jimbo: Me and my man read DS every friday, it's honestly enriched our marriage and makes for a GREAT way to start the weekend. Dan is the Man.

The desire for victims kills

Apr 2, 2010 at 10:04am

Barbara Findlay: "“We the lesbians and gay men get to say, ”˜Wait a minute. How come you get to believe something and your belief restricts my actions?’ We don’t think that’s right,” findlay said."

-Do you publish this so people can laugh at her? Just how is dirty-mouthed Guy Earle restricting anyone's actions, except his own. He was a nobody and should have remained so. It's Findlay clearly who wants to restrict people's actions by drawing some line around what can and cannot be said in public, presumably regardless of context. She thinks she will always have the power to be on the right side of that line. Why? She doesn't really want justice; she wants revenge for all the people who have ever looked down on lesbians. But anyone who has watched this carefully can see that it is desires like hers that has pushed Ms. Pardy to go public in ways I imagine she may now regret. Our desire for victims to hold up for our "cause" can come back to haunt us. It can hurt our own.

jansumi

Apr 2, 2010 at 10:31am

So - Levant would "...like to live in a country where... any [cultural] disciplining is done through peer pressure and the free market of ideas, rather than”¦the state." Who exactly are those peers he's referring to? And one glance at the tv schedule still proves - left solely to our not-so-free market we lose access to, ultimately even forget the existence of, artists & intellectuals who challenge and inspire us to rise above the daily simplistic and self-indulgent. The education that has given him the clout to spew his nonsense would not have been available to him. Maybe that would have been a good thing.

blahblah

Apr 2, 2010 at 2:12pm

Seems to me the debate isn't over Guy Earle, it's over the greed of someone who can't take a joke. Hey Lorna, you can only be insulted if you let a few little words bother you. Why is it that no one else who has EVER been insulted by a comedian hasn't bothered suing? You might want to look at why you are so easily bothered by someone words. As for the HRC - now there's a joke. Except they waste taxpayer money and pay stupid salaries to "judges" (if that is even close to the right word). Either an action is subject to prosecution under the law or it isn't. Who needs the clowns at HRC???????

barmash

Apr 2, 2010 at 3:27pm

Absolutely ridiculous. If someone makes fun of someone else you can't take them to court every single time. And he's a comedian. These lesbians were just looking for a moment in the spotlight, I mean seriously how many people have called other people fat and ugly in their lifetime? I don't think this is the first time and what makes these lesbians think they are so important that they can sue someone for basically responding to the people who instigated the confrontation in the first place. Earle didnt restrict this person's actions, he made a joke. And the fact that the court is taking this seriously shows how much time is wasted with our tax money on bullshit like this. I'm all for being politically correct and I have gay friends in which I have immense respect for but I treat them as EQUALS, not any better or worse. Does anyone actually believe that Ms. Pardy has never made a joke at the expense of straight people? I sincerely doubt it. Our stupid society has gone so far with political correctness that we are going backwards here people! Get a Grip! And Ms. Pardy if you are reading this you should drop the lawsuit. all you are doing is giving publicity to an unknown comic. You're gonna lose, Ive seen people arguing with religious anti abortion activists and they dont sue eachother. I mean how far can being politically correct go?

jimmy

Apr 2, 2010 at 11:39pm

I can not believe taxpayers money is being wasted on this. Time to disband these stupid tribunals and let a more responsible court take over. Not only do I support the the club owner , but the comedian as well. Anyone who goes to a show knows they may be poked fun of, but the action of those patrons were horrid. They should be sued for costs ad loss of business!!