John Martin, The Times
Published: Tuesday, February 09, 2010
The world may be on its way to British Columbia and the 2010 Olympics but there's one person who surely wishes he could cancel his trip to the West Coast. Guy Earle, a stand-up comedian based out of Toronto, has been ordered to attend a human rights tribunal hearing in B.C. after a woman complained she was subjected to a "tirade of homophobic and sexist comments" during one of his performances almost three long years ago.
In truth, Lorna Hardy interrupted and heckled the comedian on numerous occasions and insisted on being the center of attention. Nasty words were exchanged between the two, as is typically the case when someone in the audience chooses to interject him or herself into a live comedy performance. But in this instance, the thin-skinned Pardy ran to the BC Human Rights Tribunal and laid the nonsensical allegation that she had been discriminated against. Oh yes, she also wants $40,000 for her supposed pain and suffering.
The tribunal could have done the proper and logical thing and given her the bum's rush out the door. Instead, they chose to hear the complaint and have set a trial date for next month. Guy Earle has no choice but to attend the hearing with a lawyer, all at his own expense of course.
These so-called human rights agencies were introduced several decades ago to deal with real acts of discrimination in which people were denied employment, services and accommodation based on their skin colour and religion. But Canadians have turned out to be a rather decent lot and these types of allegations just don't happen frequently enough to sustain such bureaucracies. Desperate to keep their jobs and paycheques, the country's human rights agencies have had to find other witches to set ablaze. So they've turned their attention to magazine publishers, website hosters, Christian pastors, and now, stand-up comics.
These institutions have become an international disgrace. They have all the authority of real courts with real judges but they completely ignore the rule of law and long established rules of evidence and procedure. The accused has none of the protections or rights that are granted to someone charged under criminal law. Typically, those facing trial in these kangaroo courts must go through years and years of mental anguish and great expense.
One would be hard pressed to find another instance in modern times where a comedian has been tried by the state for the content of his performance. Stand-up comedy is impromptu and spontaneous. It does not lend itself to after-the-fact scrutiny by lawyers, bureaucrats and kangaroos.
In fact, these tribunals have become the enforcement arm of political correctness and now act as official state censors. Their investigative procedures have attracted the attention of the privacy commissioner, the RCMP and even Parliament. But they continue to conduct themselves in a shameful and disgraceful manner that every Canadian should be alarmed about. The notion of state approved thought police should be the stuff of science fiction screenplays--not official public policy.
Gordon Campbell has the ability to disband this out of control kangaroo court tomorrow. It is an international embarrassment and an ugly stain on an otherwise beautiful province. It is such a disgraceful and lawless, rogue institution that reform is no longer possible. Shutting it down is the only option.
- John Martin is a criminologist at the University of the Fraser Valley.
John.Martin@ufv.ca (external - login to view).
© Chilliwack Times 2010
Disband human rights tribunal
I totally agree with this article. Human rights tribunals have become bastions of bullies and a disgrace to the country. Shut'em down.