03.30.2010 08:59 AM

Funny/not funny

I’ve written about the Earle case before.  While I strongly support a robust human rights regime, I think taking a comedian before the CHRC for being a comedian – for pursuing his art, if you will – is completely inappropriate.  And, therefore, arguing jurisdiction at the outset was the right and proper thing to do.

Your thoughts?

11 Comments

  1. Tceh says:

    “arguing jurisdiction at the outset was the right and proper thing to do.”

    The B.C. Human Rights tribunal is overstepping IMO. As I understand it Lorna Pardy is basing her complaint on the fact the alleged abuse occurred in a restaurant, and following the logic, the alleged discrimination cannot occur in a workplace such as a restaurant. The focus of the compliant is as much about WHERE the alleged words were spoken as what was actually said. This will surely be found to be taking the law in an unexpected and wrong direction. One wonders why B.C HRT would hear the complaint in the first place. It should have been dismissed by the HRT, but in absence of that the next best thing is to walk out and let some publicity shine the incompetence of the HRT.

  2. Reality.Bites says:

    According to http://covenantzone.blogspot.com/2010/03/guy-earle-trial-part-3-lorna-pardy.html, he smashed her glasses and she threw a glass of water at him. Neither of those things qualify as free speech.

    There is an attempt to portray what happened as a free speech issue. Whatever else it may be, it is not an issue of someone being offended by a comedian’s act.

  3. colin says:

    I think that you are right that the Human Rights tribunal is overstepping. The problem with regulating speach at all is that everyone has a different view on where the mythical line should be drawn. Their view is that it should include complaints against a comedian. There is no rational way to reject that view and impose a different line without tossiing out the legislation entirely which is really what should be happening.

    • Tceh says:

      As I understand it, Lorna Pardy is trying to use legislation designed to stop workplace harassment to limit free speech at a comedy club. If the heckling had occurred outside of a workplace, IE the restaurant, she would have had no basis to file at the BC HRT. Am I reading that correctly?

      I am convinced the HRT is applying a good law badly. This isn’t a employee to employee exchange. If the exchange was unwelcome by Pardy she could verbally warn Earle and walk way. That is the first step. Did Pardy do that? If she didn’t her case is further weakened.

  4. Sandra says:

    So, if you are a regular citizen you can’t say bigoted remarks, but call yourself a comdian it’s suddenly okay?

    The best comedians don’t resort to this stuff – cheap shots and bigotry. Geroge Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld and Billy Crystal come to mind.

    • Tceh says:

      It’s been awhile since the training session but this is my understanding on how to handle workplace harassment:

      1. You tell the individual their remarks are inappropriate and unwelcome.
      2. You do not reply in kind and/or retaliate physically or verbally.
      3. You walk away and remove yourself from the situation.

      Did Lorna Pardy follow any of these steps to mitigate the situation? If she did not she has no case on that elementary level.

      In a perfect world people would not exchange hurtful remarks but… look around you. The world ain’t perfect. If the Earle vs Pardy exchange had happened 100 feet away on the street would the HRT have jurisdiction? My guess is not. Would the police take any action other than a shoulder shrug? No.

      To repeat. The world is not perfect. Words were exchanged. Feelings were hurt. Just about everyone knows that if you heckle a comedian he will respond in kind to shut you down. Apparently Pardy did not know this.

    • Doug says:

      Sandra, have you ever heard George Carlin respond to a heckler? At least in one case he used inflammatory, bigoted cheap shots. Take a peek (under the heading “The Little David Years”): http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_Carlin

    • Pat says:

      Why can’t a regular citizen make bigoted remarks? Says who? Give me the US approach over this childish Canadian prissiness any day.

  5. Derek Lipman says:

    -Read about it today in the Star. This is a very tricky one.

    But say some Canadian comedian channelled Michael Richards and unleashed a similar racist rant? Should s/he be permitted to do so with impunity?

    My position is that the HRC should not be hauling people in when the act took place at a venue in which the possiblilty that an audience member will be lampooned is high, and when the person probably acknowledges this real possiblility when they pay the price of admission and take their seat…

  6. HonestB says:

    If you believe BCL’s take on this (here: http://bigcitylib.blogspot.com/search/label/Guy%20Earle ), the “audience members” were in fact just at the venue for dinner, and were asked by their server to move off the patio (which was closing) to a table in the audience, where they were subjected to abuse by the “entertainer”. In other words, they went someplace for dinner, and instead got harassed by a jackass on a stage they were asked to sit in front of by the restaurant. If that is true, I don’t think it’s overstepping. If it was just about the guy’s act, or him using homophobic insults to try to shut hecklers up, well, Earle would still be a jackass, but it probably wouldn’t be a real HRC case.

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