Canadian Comic Fined for Crude Lesbian Jokes
TORONTO -- Canadian comic Guy Earle has been ordered to pay $15,000 to a woman and her same-sex partner after hurling a tirade of “extreme homophobic and sexist” insults at them during a 2007 stand up performance, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has ruled.
Lorna Pardy filed a complaint after she and her partner were seated at a table near a stage at Zesty's Restaurant in Vancouver, even though they did not intend to watch Earle's comedy show.
“They did not heckle or otherwise disrupt the performance, but when Mr. Earle saw Ms. Pardy’s partner give her a kiss, he twice directed virulent insults exclusively at her and others at her table based on her personal characteristics as a woman and a lesbian,” the tribunal’s decision concluded.
The Tribunal concluded that Earle twice left the stage to angrily confront Pardy, only each time to receive a glass of water thrown in his face.
“When Ms. Pardy later went to the washroom to compose herself, Mr. Earle cornered her on her return, continuing to physically intimidate and verbally abuse her. He grabbed and broke her sunglasses, and dropped them to the floor at her feet,” the tribunal chronicled.
In a decision that could chill stand-up comics countrywide, the tribunal rejected Earle’s defense that he has a right to freedom of expression when performing his comedy routines.
“Nothing about Mr. Earle’s asserted purposes in verbally and physically attacking Ms. Pardy on the basis of her sex and sexual orientation justified elevating his right to free expression over her right under the Code to be protected against his discriminatory conduct,” the human rights body wrote in its decision.
Salam Ishmail, who owns and operates Zesty’s Restaurant, was ordered to pay Pardy $7,500.
Earle told the Vancouver Sun newspaper that he will appeal the human rights tribunal decision.