NO LAUGHING MATTER
by Mark Steyn
Last week, Commissar Murray Geiger-Adams of the British Columbia "Human Rights" Tribunal pronounced stand-up comic Guy Earle guilty of the novel "human rights" crime of putting down lesbian hecklers in a homophobic manner. Reacting to the news of his conviction and the accompanying fine of $15,000, Earle writes (scroll down):
What a bloody joke... What did I ever do to Canada, except help promote and educate starting comics for the last 20 years??
"What did I ever do to Canada?" As pitiful, bewildered last words go, that's on a par with those of Kenneth Bigley, shortly before his beheading on video in Iraq: "Tony Blair has not done enough for me." Mr Earle might well have pleaded, "Michael Ignatieff has not done enough for me", nor Jack Layton, nor the massed ranks of leftie CanCon comics. It's certainly true that Mr Earle has never "done to Canada" what Ezra Levant or I have done - support Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper, launch right-wing magazines, engage in "flagrant Islamophobia", etc. Guy Earle is a fellow of conventional views, a man-child of Trudeaupia who, even now, can't understand why Canada should have singled him out to do it to him.
They never do, do they? Might have been him, might have been the guy on stage at Zesty's the following night, or two weeks earlier. Tyranny is always whimsical. Read the 107-page judgment of Commissar Geiger-Adams in which he goes into great detail on such critical points of law as whether the plaintiff, Lorna Pardy, and her then girlfriend, Zoe Broomsgrove, were merely kissing or engaging in something closer to heavy petting during the course of Mr Earle's stage act:
 Both Ms. Pardy and Ms. Sandor denied that Ms. Pardy and Ms. Broomsgrove engaged in anything other than a kiss. Ms. Pardy said she was sure that they were not kissing more heavily, that she is a very private person, that to do so would be juvenile, and that that is "just not the way I conduct myself in public." Ms. Sandor said that she was sure Ms. Broomsgrove and Ms. Pardy were not kissing more heavily â€“ that had they done so she would have felt uncomfortable, and would have told them to "get a room or go home".
On the other hand:
 Mr. Wolfe testified that Mr. Earle told Ms. Pardy and the others a couple of times to be quiet, and when that didn't work, "he started getting a little nasty". He said that he saw Ms. Pardy and Ms. Broomsgrove kiss each other "a little bit". He said it was not a kiss on the cheek, and that it "looked like they were making out off and on".
 Mr. Franson said that Ms. Pardy and Ms. Broomsgrove were being very affectionate with each other. He said that at one point they started kissing, and that they were "really kissing â€“ not a kiss on the cheek", and that both their heads were turned.
 Mr. Roy... did say, without elaboration or explanation, that Ms. Pardy and Ms. Broomsgrove were "making out" while he was on stage..
Hmm. Who to believe? Fortunately, as British Columbia's Chief Commissar of Lesbian Necking, "Judge" Geiger-Adams can tell an expert witness in sapphic makeout action from an obvious charlatan:
I do not find helpful or believable most of Mr. Franson's evidence as to whether Ms. Pardy and Ms. Broomsgrove exchanged more than a peck on the cheek... I infer that Mr. Espaniel heard more of Mr. Earle's words than he was prepared to admit, that he sought to protect Mr. Earle, who he described as his friend, and with whom (along with Mr. Franson and Mr. Roy) he went to another bar later that evening, and that his actual recollection of Mr. Earle's words would not have favoured Mr. Earle..
"Infer"? Indeed: I, Commissar Murray Geiger-Adams of that ilk, testify that my recollection of what the witness would have testified to recollecting had he uttered the words I'm assigning to him is more accurate than the witness' actual testimony of what he claims to recollect. So as Chief Provincial Assessor of Public Display of Affection, "Judge" Geiger-Adams ruled that there's no need to get a room, kids:
 I find the following facts... There was no public display of affection between Ms. Pardy and Ms. Broomsgrove beyond a kiss.
Well, thank goodness you cleared that up. Would the homophobic Earle have received a smaller fine had the two makeout witnesses been more credible? What precise calibration of action sets Commissar Geiger-Adams' Geiger counter a-crackling? On reading the hundred-page accumulation of "evidence" against Guy Earle and the damning inventory of the criminal's apparently somewhat limited vocabulary ("dick", "ass", "fuck", "cunt"), one might easily overlook what's missing from Geiger-Adams' "judgment":
Just for starters, how about the testimony of the accused? Guy Earle is not a rich man. For my own show trial in 2008, I flew in from New York to Vancouver and put up at the chichi little hotel just across from the Robson Street courthouse. I was unusual in that respect. Mr Earle is far more typical of the "human rights" regime's targets. He was working that night in 2007 for a $50 bar tab. Over three years later, the BCHRT decided to haul him into the dock. He was living on the other side of the country - of the continent, in fact - and could afford neither the air fare nor the accommodation. Rather touchingly, he offered to pay for his trip by performing at various Vancouver comedy venues while in town, before he eventually figured out that nobody at the Agency of Transgressive Comedy Bookers was going to return his calls ever again. So he suggested to the BCHRT that they might perhaps allow him to testify via video link. His request was denied. Tellingly, one of the two "victims" of his homophobic crime, Zoe Broomsgrove, also declined to participate in the proceedings. Earle's lawyer withdrew from the trial after the Tribunal rejected the BC Supreme Court's advice that it should not proceed until it determined whether it had jurisdiction. Instead, Commissar Geiger-Adams decided to take Lewis Carroll's Red Queen to the next level: "Sentence first, jurisdictional legitimacy determination afterwards!" So he went ahead and tried Guy Earle in absentia.
There is a word for a judge who tries and convicts a man without testimony or representation or a jury of his peers. I mean, aside from words like "dick", "ass" and "cunt", all of which one might apply to "Judge" Geiger-Adams. That word is sham. As with any show trial in any nickel-and-dime banana-republic presidency-for-life, the outward forms of "justice" are deployed for a precise inversion of it. That's wretched enough when it happens in North Korea or the Soviet Union. When a jurisdiction that's heir to one of the oldest sustained legal inheritances on the planet decides to dump due process, it's even more shameful.
What's wrong with Geiger-Adams' court? You notice that I appear above to have called him a "dick", "ass" and "cunt". So what? I'm a dead white male, he's a dead white male. I could say everything Guy Earle is alleged to have said to Ms Pardy - including the bit about the strap-on - and "Judge" Geiger-Adams would have to take it. No "human rights" law is infringed if I launch a blizzard of four-letter words at a fucking dickhead asshole cunt like Geiger-Adams. But, if Ms Pardy is around, the vulgar, witless boorishness that is the stock in trade of the average "comedy" club gets dramatically upgraded to "discrimination in the provision of a service customarily available to the public, on the basis of her sex and sexual orientation" - in other words, a hate crime.
This is an assault on one of the most basic principles of justice - equality before the law. Instead, one citizen has different rights than another according to which preferred identity groups he (or more often she) falls into. In his newspaper column, my friend Ezra Levant wonders if, under the Geiger-Adams Comedy Regime, it's okay for Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy to use racist words for which pastier types would be prosecuted. But this isn't even a hypothetical fancy: This very month at the University of Connecticut, an anthropology professor teaching a class on the cultural significance of "the N-word" showed clips of Chris Rock and Richard Pryor using "the N-word". Shortly thereafter the professor was reported for, er, using "the N-word". The prof is white. The student who reported him is the "Multicultural and Diversity Senator" on the student council, a member of the Black Students' Association and an activist who wants to "instigate unity on campus". And let's face it, the easiest way to "unity" is to "instigate" it, isn't it? So the hapless professor is now being forced to take "diversity training", because nothing says "diversity" like mandatory "unity". And to think American students have run up a trillion dollars in college debt for the privilege of being "taught" by the kind of pansies who agree to submit to "diversity training" for commiting the crime of using "the N-word" in a class about the cultural significance of "the N-word".
The great strength of Common Law is its antipathy to "collective rights" - because the ultimate minority is the individual. If you elevate group rights over individual liberty, you're mainly empowering not "minorities" but the state, which becomes the sole legitimate arbiter of relations between various groups. And empowering the state means empowering the likes of Commissar Geiger-Adams to preside over four-year investigations into the precise degree of smooching between two patrons of a late-night comedy club. That's why group rights are "the key Nanny State concept". What we are witnessing, from the comedy clubs of Vancouver to the groves of academe in Connecticut, is not just the collapse of liberty but the death of the human spirit. There is something deeply sick about the willingness of freeborn citizens to submit to statist enforcers like Geiger-Adams.
When I ran into my spot of bother before the same tribunal, I didn't always see eye to eye with my boss Ken Whyte, the lawyers, and the executive corporate suits at Rogers, but we all agreed on one basic point - that in court we would not produce witnesses to defend the content of my writing (a) because, at the BC "Human Rights" Tribunal truth is no defense, so who cares?; and (b) because to defend the content would be to accept that wankers like Geiger-Adams had jurisdiction over it.
Instead, we put the system on trial. What was at issue was not what I'd done but what the BCHRT and the OHRC and the CHRC were doing. And Geiger-Adams' comrades among the thought police simply couldn't withstand that degree of public scrutiny.
Alas, not everyone is Ezra Levant, nor wants to be. As I wrote a couple of years back:
I haven't followed the Earle case very closely. But, judging from his interview with Rob, he and his legal team have made a couple of missteps. He says he offered a kind of apology and to make a donation to a "woman advocate group", whatever the hell that is. Stupid, stupid, stupid. When you do that, you're accepting their framing of the case - which is that what's at issue is your behaviour. Wrong. What's at issue is BC's and Canada's crappy, worthless, ever more expansive and coercive "human rights" regime. By offering Danegeld (Dykegeld?) to some or other third party, you confer legitimacy on the process. Very foolish.
All Earle and his counsel did was bolster the state's narrative that this case was about him, and his homophobia. It wasn't. It was about the presumption of the Canadian state to regulate the interactions of a late-night comedy club. That shouldn't be a tough call:
If it's a choice between offensive gags or massive expansion of state power, no self-respecting citizen should find it difficult working out which is the lesser evil and which is the greater threat.
Early on in my travails, I asked Ken Whyte over lunch why we didn't seem to be getting a lot of support from our fellow Canadian media grandees, and he said cheerfully enough, "Because they don't like us." In those first months, the only mainstream media bigwigs to denounce the outrage were exactly those you might expect - David Warren, Rex Murphy, George Jonas, Margaret Wente. We could have held the "Canadian Media For Free Speech" rally in the back of Ken's Honda Civic. When eventually they did rouse themselves, I quickly grew weary of the standard template: obviously Mark Steyn is alarmist/offensive/obnoxious/Islamophobic/racist but (sigh) nevertheless...
But good grief, the jellyspined squishes of the press were rock-ribbed compared to all those "brave" "transgressive" comics Guy Earle has spent his life palling around with. They got together for one rally in Toronto - an evening of the usual third-rate Bush gags - and then decided it was easier to cut him loose. Vancouver comedian Charles Demers:
But while Demers is concerned about free speech as it relates to his profession, he said he considers himself "as much invested in the fight against homophobia as in the fight for comedy."
Did you say that with a straight face? Boy, your act must be a real side-splitter. Fellow comedian Adam Holwerda:
There's no government action here, no precedent being set, dude just never showed up to his hearing and now he has to pay the lady who was suing him. Which is why he's going to lose. Sometimes you go too far and you hurt someone's feelings enough for them to sue you. That's just the way it is. Maybe don't do it next time.
Actually, "dude", it is "government action". At my "trial", the troika of judges sat in front of the Royal Coat of Arms - that's the government, the state. And in my case the statutory penalty would have been a de facto publication ban with the force of a Supreme Court decision preventing me from writing on Islam, Europe, demography, immigration and multiple other issues for the rest of my life. Maybe not a problem for you. Maybe a guy who thinks "edginess" and "dangerous" "envelope-pushing" can be confined to using words like "dude" can live within such a system. On the other hand, that's what Guy Earle thought, too.
Best of all, the default position of almost every comic asked about this case is to respond very portentously that dear old Guy's greatest crime was that he "wasn't funny". No, he wasn't. But are you entirely sure you want that concept embedded in law? Take my wife. Please. I wouldn't say my wife's fat but, when she asked what they had in her size, they said how about the delivery van? That's not really funny, either, is it? But are you entirely comfortable with making it illegal? How about that surefire Sarah Palin retard-kid gag that demonstrates how cool and cutting-edge you are? Suppose you do it one night when the mom of a retard's in the room, dude, and she doesn't get that you're not mocking lib-voting retard-moms supporting greater investment in government child care but just, like, Republican anti-abortion retard-moms? Do you trust Commissar-Dude Geiger-Adams to police that distinction as finely as he did Ms Pardy and Ms Broomsgrove's tongue sarnies?
In the end, Ezra and I dragged most of the media into, if not grudging support for us, at least a lack of support for the censors. The one exception was John Miller, Ryerson journalism professor and ovine fornication specialist, who attempted to gain intervenor status at the BCHRT to argue that Canada's free speech provisions did not extend to me. Miller has fallen silent since his ill advised foray into Ayatollah Khomeini's barnyard. But it is dispiriting to report that, in the Earle case, ninety per cent of comedians have apparently volunteered to climb into the rear end of the John Miller sheep suit. The cravenness of those who make their living from glib attitudinal braggadocio was, I suppose, entirely predictable. In the old days, we had court jesters, who enjoyed a special dispensation to tweak the sovereign - to "speak truth to power", as the lefties would put it. Queen Elizabeth I is said to have complained that her jester was too deferential to her. But under Queen Elizabeth II, we have advanced to comedians happy to play court eunuchs to the Trudeaupian sultans. If you've ever had the misfortune to sit through half-a-dozen back-to-back acts at Juste Pour Rires or the Edinburgh Festival, you'll know that way too much stand-up comedy is just pandering to your audience's most unexamined prejudices. It's a mere difference of degree to pander to the state conformity enforcers. Next time you hear some bozo comic bragging about how "brave", "edgy" and "transgressive" comedians are, remember their edginess and transgressions are licensed and approved by Commissar Murray Geiger-Adams. As Denyse O'Leary writes, maybe we should just put them all on welfare and be done with it.
"What did I ever do to Canada?" wails Guy Earle. Au contraire, this is the Canada that arose with the full support of the edgy transgressives - a Canada where the state polices your jokes, and the court eunuchs are entirely cool with it. Dude.
[UPDATE: As an example of that last point, consider this headline from the "progressives" at Now Magazine:
Conservative Stands Up For Anti-Gay Comic
"Anti-gay comic": Guy Earle might as well put it on his business card. Next time round they'll be hinting he dated Kathy Shaidle in high school.]
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© 2014 Mark Steyn Enterprises (US) Inc. All rights reserved.