When Being Offensive Becomes Discrimination



June 29, 2013

On June 19, the Supreme Court of BC released a troubling judgment troubling judgment in a human rights appeal. A few years ago, we reported

on the case of the not-too-funny comic who threw out offensive slurs at a couple of hecklers who were disturbing his show. Those hecklers (two lesbians) were so offended they complained to the human rights commission in BC and won a $15,000 award against the comedian and an additional $7,500 award for damage to dignity against the bar where the comedian was performing. The real court has upheld the tribunals findings and cost awards. The judge has conflated “offensive comments” with “discrimination” leaving us with the question, what else might be considered discrimination? A constitutional lawyer, Albertos Polizogopoulos, penned a blog post about this worrying precedent here. It’s well worth a read. Also, see Ezra Levant’s interview of Chris Schafer here. Hopefully, this case gets appealed one more time.

I add this caveat: If any criminal activity took place in the dispute between the comedian and the hecklers (breaking of sunglasses, pushing, throwing water in the face, etc.) then that may constitute assault, and should be dealt with accordingly, that is, through the criminal law process. The Human Rights Tribunal is ill-equipped to adjudicate criminal law matters.

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