As if open-mics weren’t nightmarish enough. Yesterday Canadian comedian Guy Earle was fined $15,000 after the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal determined his homophobic rant against audience member Lorna Pardy constituted discrimination.
The charges stem from an incident on May 22, 2007, when Pardy and then-partner Zoe Broomsgrove attended a comedy show at Zesty Restaurant in Vancouver. Reportedly Earle unleashed a stream of homophobic insults at the couple after seeing them kiss, which then lead to the comedian going into the audience, the pair arguing and Pardy throwing a glass of water in his face. Earle admits he insulted the couple but defended himself, saying he was just dealing with hecklers. According to the claimant, who was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder which she traces back to the incident, the comedian later accosted the couple as they attempted to leave the restaurant and broke her sunglasses. Earle denies the accusation, saying “I never said anything hurtful to them or treated them badly after I got off the stage. I didn’t say the things they said I said. They harassed me out the door to my car and out into the street.”
Pardy filed a complaint in September 2007 against both the comedian and, perhaps even more significantly for future cases, Zesty’s owner Salam Ishmail, who is undoubtedly wishing he just put in a karaoke machine instead. Per the court’s decision this week, reportedly “Earle has been ordered to pay Pardy $15,000 for injury to dignity, feelings, and self respect. Zesty and Ismail have been ordered to pay Pardy $7,500 for injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect.”
Wrote tribunal member Murray Geiger-Adams about the court’s findings, “Mr. Earle’s treatment of Ms. Pardy was both verbal and physical, and involved both aggressiveness and physical contact. In my view, in the circumstances disclosed by the reliable evidence in this case, it is important both to Ms. Pardy and to the public to clearly identify that the conduct engaged in by Mr. Earle, in particular, was a breach of Ms. Pardy’s human rights under the Code.” Earle plans to appeal.