Quebec’s Human Rights Tribunal ordered a comedian to pay $35,000 to a teen singer he made fun of as part of his stand-up routine, ruling Wednesday that the teen’s “right to equality” was violated by the comedy act.
Comedian Mike Ward regularly incorporated a joke about singer Jeremy Gabriel into his routine between 2010 and 2013, Canada’s National Post reports. Gabriel, who is facially disfigured due to Treacher Collins Syndrome, received international attention in 2006 when he traveled to Rome to sing for Pope Benedict XVI.
As part of his joke, Ward would say that he “went on the internet to figure out what was wrong with him, and you know what it was? He’s ugly, goddamnit.” In addition to shelling out the $35,000 to Gabriel, Ward will also have to pay $7,000 in moral and punitive damages to Gabriel’s mother.
“I didn’t know there was a Human Rights Tribunal until I got sued,” he said after the ruling. “One day the caller ID read: Human Rights Tribunal. When I answered the woman said, ‘Mr. Ward, we’re calling you about one of your jokes. We think you know the one.'”
“This is a very sad day for free speech in Canada. Whilst we do not have the benefit of the First Amendment in our country, I would like to think that those who claim to stand for human rights, such as the Quebec Human Rights commission, would stand for free speech. Instead they systematically attack the very rights which they claim to protect,” said Lauren Southern, a commentator for Canadian news outlet The Rebel Media.
“I have had friends targeted by the commission before; the most prominent example being my boss at The Rebel Media, Ezra Levant. I fear for myself and all those with unpopular opinions in Canada. What is deemed hate speech and offensive is subjective, and when subjectivity is used to measure ones guilt or innocence, it is the wolves voting the fate of sheep.”
As previously reported by The Daily Caller, Canadian Minister of Justice introduced legislation this past May that, if passed, would make anti-transgender “hate propaganda” punishable by up to two years in prison.
Follow Peter Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson