The Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that comedian Mike Ward can’t get away with saying whatever he wants “under the guise of comedy”.
Several years ago, Ward told a joke about Jeremy Gabriel, who suffers from a genetic disorder that causes facial deformity and affects his hearing.Gabriel sang to Pope Benedict and Celine Dion to flesh out his dream of becoming an international singer.
In Ward’s bit he called Gabriel a bad singer, stating that he was “terminally ill” and that Gabriel not passing away meant that his “Make a Wish” was invalid.
Gabriel was not actually terminally ill, but Ward says he embellished the story because it was a fricken joke.
Quebec’s Human Rights Tribunal ruled the joke was discrimination against Gabriel and ordered Ward to pay damages for “making discriminatory comments...infringing his right to equality.”
Last week, the Court of Appeals upheld the previous decision, ordering Ward to pay $35,000 to Gabriel.
Two of three judges on Quebec’s Court of Appeal ruled that Ward’s comments regarding Gabriel were not justifiable, writing that Ward’s jokes “exceeded the limits of what a reasonable person must tolerate in the name of freedom of expression.”
This is where the left wants American headed, where judges determine “freedom of expression”.
After the ruling, Ward quickly responded saying on social media that he would not pay any fine and plans to bring the case to the country’s Supreme Court saying that “comedy is not a crime. I’m telling you right now. I would rather go to prison than pay one-tenth of this stupid fine.”
Ward’s attorney, Julius Grey, says humor and artistic expression must be allowed a high degree of tolerance, adding that “this particular judgment will create a chill which will mean people will hesitate before criticizing.”