Guy Earle is the stand-up comic being dragged through British Columbia "human rights" hell by two drunken lesbians who decided that his put-down of their heckling was "homophobic". His trial begins in Vancouver on March 29th. If you read his latest update here, it's clear that Mr Earle is in a bad way:
The HRC is being used as a tool for personal gain from a group that has no class, scruples or understanding. Of all the Canadian installations, wouldn't you want the HRC to have some kahoonies? Ah but... this is a make work project for their people, isn't it? They don't care that two years of my life is GONE. There is no concept of the damages they cause, the opportunities I've lost... Wow, you thought I was bitter BEFORE? Well, now I've become so bitter I can't perform. In a lot of ways, they've won already.
And, in case you doubt that, listen to him in this interview with one of the few media guys to be following this story, CHQR's Rob Breakenridge. Mr Earle sounds like a man on the verge of an on-air breakdown.
Different people react to "human rights" torture in different ways: Ezra Levant and I are oppositional by nature and by profession. You take a swing at us, we'll swing back. Go ahead, "human rights" punks, make our day. So is Marc Lemire, whose bloody-minded refusal to sit there and take it wound up inflicting more damage on the racket than anything else.
But most victims of Canada's thought police aren't like that: They're just regular folks trying to get on with their lives without catching the eye of the state enforcers, and, in that sense, Guy Earle is far closer to the gay guy with acute sinusitis forced to close down his b-&-b or the health-club owner taken to the cleaners by a pre-op transsexual who wanted to use the ladies' showers. These are fellows leading fully compliant Trudeaupian lives who nevertheless find they've managed to attract the attentions of an ever more whimsical tyranny. It would be interesting to know what might have befallen Catsmeat Kinsella, notorious ethnic comic and Count Iggy's lead attack chihuahua, had he essayed his culinary jests in a Vancouver comedy club. That's the point: No matter how daintily you tiptoe on PC eggshells, it'll never be enough.
I feel very sorry for Mr Earle. The most interesting part of the Rob Breakenridge interview is when he muses on some of the website comments that appeared after news reports about the case: "This is the best thing that could happen to Guy Earle's career", etc. "That is not how this works at all," explains the comic, recounting how he was being lined up for some event in Vancouver until the promoter got wind of the suit and decided he didn't need a lot of trouble from the gay community. "A lot of people don't want to have anything to do with me," he says. "I don't know what the silver lining is."
And he hasn't even been convicted of anything yet.
It's interesting to me how all those promoters who claim to be committed to producing "edgy", "transgressive", "provocative" comedy wilt like pansies in the face of one "human rights" complaint. But it's invariably the case that the self-congratulatory left, forever hailing itself for its courage in speaking truth to power, is never there when real courage is needed - even if, like Guy Earle, you're essentially one of their own. This shouldn't be difficult even for the myopic politically correct bores who run most comedy clubs. As I wrote here:
Sometimes you have to pick the lesser of two evils, and, 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.
And yet Mr Earle's professional colleagues do seem to be finding it difficult, if not impossible. Strange that.
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.
The other mistake Guy Earle seems to have made is really psychological. Two years ago, when the Canadian Islamic Congress thing went public, I spoke to Ezra, and his very first words to me were to caution against allowing myself to be consumed by the case. That's very important - because, as Jennifer Lynch, QC, Heather MacNaughton, Barbara Hall and the other commissars understand, the object is denormalization. You can denormalize the victim by convicting him, or simply by drawing out the process for a sufficient period of time that you damage his reputation irreparably. But sometimes you can persuade the victim to denormalize himself, applying such pressure that a regular mainstream generalist guy becomes a quivering one-note obsessive gibbering to himself in a corner. Ezra's advice was very useful. There were moments when I felt myself getting boxed into the aforesaid corner, and, remembering Ezra, I made a point of punching my way back out. As readers will know, a couple of weeks after the British Columbia trial ended, I was in London recording "A Marshmallow World". People wondered why. Well, in part to prove that I could - that I wasn't going to be defined by Commissar MacNaughton's troika of tossers or Mohammed Elmasry's sock puppets, and wind up as someone who talks about repealing Section 13 for the rest of his life.
I'm glad to say the denormalization failed. Since getting labeled a hatemonger, I've gotten more invitations to Sussex Drive than I ever did before. When Ezra and I spoke in Ottawa last spring, half the cabinet showed up, and even several Liberals and Bloquistes. Best of all, I have Canada's "human rights" regime to thank for transforming my reputation in the Province of Quebec. I used to get nervous in Montreal restaurants when I'd be dining with non-political friends and catch someone at a nearby table murmuring sotto voce the dread words "droits des personnes". But in every case it turned out to be a fellow diner wanting to congratulate me for sticking it to the kangaroos. A prominent Quebec businessman sent over a magnum of champagne to my table in gratitude. An usher at the Montreal Jazz Festival moved me down the aisle to a better seat. Running late for a flight to Heathrow from Dorval last month, I was very grateful for the crossing guard who stopped the traffic for me and told me to keep fighting till the HRCs were scrapped. A few weeks ago, I was in the Ivy in London late one night having a drink with a producer pal when a very famous actress came in. "Mark, you old hatemonger you!" she bellowed across the room, and came over for a big huggy-kissy. After all the slobbering, my producer chum said, "I'm always surprised your thespian friends still speak to you." So am I, to be honest.
But they do - if you frame the issue in liberty-vs-state terms rather than one of political correctness. By contrast the last surviving sock puppet Khurrum Awan - formerly of the Sockson Five, the Four Socks, the Sockston Trio, Socky and Cher and now Socky Bono - has been reduced to suing Ezra Levant because his friends no longer speak to him. Who denormalized whom, eh?
Guy Earle sounds like he could use a bit of Ezra-type advice right now, so for what it's worth here it is: Get on with your life. Do comedy shows. Do a show somewhere in Vancouver while the trial is on, even if you have to rent the room yourself. You're a full-time comic and a part-time defendant, not the other way round. And, if you do talk about the case, don't meet 'em halfway by talking bullshit about making donations to "women advocate groups". The only issue is this: Canada is now a land where the state regulates comedy acts.
The trial on March 29th will be a disgrace. You don't apologize, you don't donate, you put the system on trial.
That's really the only insight you need: It's about them, not you.
PS Kathy Shaidle says: "Just tell them to **** off." I would guess he doesn't want to have his bank accounts frozen or be rendered unemployable in British Columbia. Also, I don't believe, under BC law, you can appeal to a real court if you don't acknowledge the process in the most minimal way. That's why, as I did, you should show up in Heather MacNaughton's courtroom, guffaw occasionally, and in the scrum on the steps aside denounce her as a statist thug and buffoon. In other words, if you're going to tell them to f**k off, do it to their faces.
Under BC's shitty "human rights" code, Maclean's and I were, as a point of law, guilty. So we dared them to convict. And, like all bullies when someone stands up to them, the gutless pussies wimped out. I understand Guy Earle doesn't have as deep pockets, but he needs a support network that will make the political price too high for Commissar MacNaughton. The freespeechy bloggers fulfilled that function for me. The radical comedy crowd don't seem to be stepping up for Mr Earle. In the end, one Kathy Shaidle is worth a hundred guys who do lame-o Stephen Harper gags.