According to the National Post:
‘In a ruling that could carry implications for comedy clubs across Canada, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has upheld the right of a bar patron to receive five-figures in damages from a comedian whose performance she alleges gave her post-traumatic stress disorder.
In 2011, Toronto comedian Guy Earle was ordered by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to pay $15,000 to Lorna Pardy, a homosexual woman who said she suffered “lasting physical and psychological effect” after Mr. Earle directed a string of lesbian slurs at her during a 2007 Vancouver open mic night.
On Wednesday, B.C. highest court ruled against Mr. Earle’s assertion that comedy clubs should remain special places devoted to the “fearless pursuit of free speech” and that the Tribunal’s decision would have a “chilling effect on performances and artists in British Columbia.”’
The “chilling effect” is a feature not a bug.
‘Rather, ruled Justice Jon Sigurdson, while comedy clubs may swirl with “offensive, irreverent and inappropriate” language they are not operating in “zones of absolute immunity from human rights legislation.”’
Nothing - NOTHING - is immune “from human rights legislation.” What do you think? Ya live in a free country or something?
‘Nevertheless, in the judge’s words, “Mr. Earle was not giving a comedy performance when he launched into his tirade of ugly words directed at Ms. Pardy.”
So, in 21st century Canada, we need Supreme Court Justices to decide on what constitutes comedy and what constitutes a “tirade of ugly words”. I’m old enough to remember a time when comedy was defined by whether an audience laughed or not. Any word on how the other patrons in the comedy club reacted? Were they splitting their sides in mirth, or were they hysterically shrieking while clutching their hemlines?
And while we’re at it, since when is a “tirade of ugly words” and “a comedy performance” mutually exclusive activities?
“In the end, this is not a case about the scope of expression in a comedy performance or an artistic performance,” he wrote. “It is about verbal and physical abuse that amounts to adverse treatment based on sex and sexual orientation.”’
OK, so how exactly does being berated by a comedian at an edge comedy club - that you entered voluntarily in order to attend the performance of an edgy comedian - constitute physical abuse?
And since when have we considered our adult citizens so fragile that their egos need to be protected by inquisitions and law courts?
Oh yes. For heterosexual, conservative white males such as myself, the answer is never. Sorry, my mistake.
But make no mistake about this: unless and until people start actively pushing back against the PC bullies, the boundaries of what we can and cannot say, will continue to become steadily constricted over time; and more of us get to experience the visceral, increasingly omnipresent dread associated with saying the wrong (career ending) thing that necessarily comes with the privilege of living in a ‘harassment-free’ society.