Monday, March 29, 2010

Guy Earle: My "Waiter" Metaphor Vindicated

"Restaurants have an obligation to provide a service that is free of discrimination," Cousineau [Lawyer for Complainant Lorna Pardy] said. "If you go to a restaurant and the waiter comes up to you and calls you names based on your race or your disability, or whatever, even if you are still technically getting your food and getting your drink you are still being subjected to discriminatory treatment in the provision of that service."

Moreover, Cousineau alleges that the comments were not made during Earle’s official artistic performance.

"This isn’t the case of a comedian standing on stage and saying ‘two lesbians walk into a bar.’ It’s the case of individuals in the audience being targeted and being subjected to slurs about their sex and sexual orientation," she said.

An important thing to note here is that, Zesty's (the Vancouver restaurant where this all took place) was only partly given over to comedy club business on the evening in question, and one of Pardy's supporters, at least, has indicated that the two lesbians were not there for the comedic performances:

No, the ladies did NOT go to Zesty's to see the show. But when the patio closed, they were taken to the table by the stage by the waitresses.

By the way, Guy Earle has a blog/website devoted to his adventures, which was dead for many months and has become active again in the runup to his hearing. For example:

For almost three years, I have been defending myself to attacks from would be heroes blowing intolerance through their misguided horns. I AM NOT A HOMOPHOBE. I don't give a flying shit what you do in your bedroom and for that matter, it's none of my business... so why do you have to ram it down everybody elses throats?

Admittedly, that quote is a bit of a cherry pick on my part.

The distinction above is important to note, because as I've said several times, some will want to portray this as a "free speech" case and it really isn't; the fact that words were used to discriminate is incidental in this case. And were anyone to repeal the relevant section of the B.C. code (section 8), it would leave the provincial analogue to section 13 of the federal code (which is called section 7) in place. Some people with broader anti-HRC agendas may want to see the distinction elided.


WesternGrit said...

The whole comment, "I'm not _______, but... why do "they" need to ram it down my/our throats..." is one of the number one xenophobe/intolerant statements out there. Open with the disclaimer that they're not intolerant, then, in the same statement, mention that the very act of "being" (gay, visible minority, practicing a religion with outward signs of it, etc.) is somehow offending them...

It's a "gotcha" moment.

rabbit said...

This might also be a discrimination issue, but that doesn't stop it from being a free speech issue as well. It's not an either-or thing.

At any rate, comedians are not waiters. If you go see a comedy act, you can well expect to hear offensive remarks made about various identifiable groups. It might not be funny, but it's part of what comedy is these days. Everyone knows it.

This is self-defeating for the gay community. People have enormous tolerance for comedians. Bill Maher and Jon Stewart can (and do) says things that more serious pundits can't get away with. Many people appear to believe that there should be a part of society that has license to speak the unspeakable.

bigcitylib said...

They didn't go see a comedy act. They were out on the patio. When the patio closed, the act was inflicted upon them.

bigcitylib said...

At least this is their argument.

Ti-Guy said...

Only slightly off-topic:

The day the free screechers start addressing issues like this (CIA and other government propaganda campaigns to manipulate public opinion and the efforts of various American government and private organisations to shut down Wikileaks) is the day I'll take them seriously.

In fact, I'm not sure the focus on destroying citizen access to protection from or dispute resolution for cases of hate speech aren't part of some psy-op campaign to make sure hate propaganda remains part of the arsenal for particular agencies to continue to manipulate public opinion. Hate messaging is, after all, the most powerful form of propaganda.

Why say you, screechies? Are you up to that challenge or is it just too much hard work?