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JZStudios

Canadian fined $35,000 for hurting feelings

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Posted · Original PosterOP

It's here, ladies and gentlemen, freedom of speech and expression officially gone in Canada. A Canadian comedian has been taken to court and fined a rather large sum over a joke.

Quote

Canadian comedian Mike Ward has lost his appeal and has been ordered by a Quebec judge to pay $35,000 because of a joke he told about a disabled boy.

Ward was ordered to pay $35,000 to Jeremy Gabriel, who suffers from a genetic disorder that causes facial deformity and affects his hearing, due to a joke the comedian told at shows between 2010 and 2013.

This leads to a monumental moment of absolutely insane stupidity and hypocrisy of the "freedom" of Canadians;

Quote

Two of three judges ruled Mike Ward’s comments regarding Gabriel were not justifiable in a society where freedom of expression is valued.

Which is just... fantastic. MWAH. Beautiful.

 

Originally he was also supposed to pay $7,000 to the mother of the "victim," which the courts denied, since she wasn't directly influenced or mentioned by the joke. At the very least if you make a joke the audiences family members aren't entitled to emotional compensation.

 

Quote

The joke in question was regarding Gabriel’s disability. In 2005, Gabriel sang to Pope Benedict and Celine Dion to flesh out his dream of becoming an international singer.

Ward’s jokes called Gabriel a bad singer, stating that he was “terminally ill” and that Gabriel not passing away meant that his “Make a Wish” was invalid. Gabriel was not actually terminally ill, as Gabriel’s genetic disease—Treacher Collins syndrome—does not generally have an effect on lifespan. He was also not a Make-a-Wish kid, as Ward was embellishing the story for the sake of the joke.

Ward’s jokes make have been tasteless, but does that mean he should have to pay $35,000? I don’t think so, but the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled the joke was discrimination against Gabriel and his parents and ordered Ward to pay damages for “making discriminatory comments regarding Jéremy Gabriel, infringing his right to equality.”

Somehow making a joke is now actually impeding on peoples equality.

 

 

He intends on not paying it and preferring prison time instead, and plans on taking the case to the Canadian Supreme Court.

Quote

Mike Ward responded to the verdict on Twitter, declaring that he refuses to pay the fine, and plans to take this fight to the Supreme Court. “In a ‘free’ country, it shouldn’t be up to a judge to decide what constitutes a joke on stage. The people in attendance laughing already answered that question.”

“I’m telling you right now, I [sic] rather go to prison than pay even one-tenth of this stupid fine.”

 

Meanwhile various news articles and Nazi Pug Man have reported on this moment of inclusiveness and expressive freedom.

https://pjmedia.com/trending/canadian-comedian-ordered-to-pay-35000-over-a-joke/ 

 

 

As a personal note, I remember getting into an argument not too long ago about how dangerous this kind of thing was where you can be fined or jailed for calling someone a name or saying a joke they don't like, and I was lambasted as people swore this would never happen, like it did to Nazi Pug Man, who was both arrested and fined, and now any job he manages to get the media sniffs out and promptly ensures he gets fired, so he's basically unemployed and unemployable now.

 

Relevant;

 

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9 minutes ago, JZStudios said:

He intends on not paying it and preferring prison time instead,

You don't get to choose, though. You get the sentence you get, which is tied to the act you are accused of, and you can't substitute at will.

You can not comply, though, just like you can have a loan and not pay its installments. But just like in that example, you just get your assets or a fraction of our income seized until the debt is paid.

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4 hours ago, SpaceGhostC2C said:

You don't get to choose, though. You get the sentence you get, which is tied to the act you are accused of, and you can't substitute at will.

You can not comply, though, just like you can have a loan and not pay its installments. But just like in that example, you just get your assets or a fraction of our income seized until the debt is paid.

If anything, if he refuses, he'll just end up serving time and he'll still be on the hook for the fine.

 

If he truly believes he's innocent of a crime, then yes, he needs to appeal the decision all the way up the court system. Of course, it'll be years before he reaches the Supreme Court.

 

Just to clarify, the Tribunal awarded the kid money specifically because "Mr. Ward’s comments about Jérémy Gabriel’s disability compromised the young performer’s right to the safeguard of his dignity".

 

Additionally, the Superior Court of Quebec already upheld the ruling from the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal. This makes it more likely for him to get to the Supreme Court, but it also doesn't help his chances of winning.

 

Is that wrong? Is that acceptable? I'm gonna leave that up to the Supreme Court to decide, if it makes it that far.

 

Does calling something a joke count as a defense against basically lying about someone and making up details?


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Posted · Original PosterOP
23 minutes ago, dalekphalm said:

Does calling something a joke count as a defense against basically lying about someone and making up details?

When it's the middle of a stand up comedy routine, yes. "Roasting" audience members used to be a common occurrence. It's not like the guy was outing him as a fraud as trying to deplatform him.

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Following to watch the shitshow go down.

 

This is insane, and anybody who supports the courts decision probably is as well (though feel free to prove me wrong, I honestly want to be.)


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10 minutes ago, JZStudios said:

When it's the middle of a stand up comedy routine, yes. "Roasting" audience members used to be a common occurrence.

Roasting, sure. But as far as I'm aware, he wasn't even in the audience.

10 minutes ago, JZStudios said:

It's not like the guy was outing him as a fraud as trying to deplatform him.

But we don't actually know his intentions. If people were to believe the jokes, they would think this kid is a fraud basically. I don't know enough context to say too much, but it's very possible that this joke caused the kid real hardship.

 

As I said, I'll let the Supreme Court decide whether what Mr Ward did was wrong or not, constitutionally.


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Ask Google to define Crime and you get the THREE following definitions.  Pay attention to the last one - its worded very specifically as they try to change our freedoms by defining them:

 

 

 

"AN ACTION OR ACTIVITY THAT, ALTHOUGH NOT ILLEGAL, IS CONSIDERED TO BE EVIL, SHAMEFUL, OR WRONG"

 

Your freedoms aren't taken in large steps, or we revolt.  They are eroded slowly over time so that by the time you notice - they are to far gone to fight back.

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 stating that he was “terminally ill” and that Gabriel not passing away meant that his “Make a Wish” was invalid. Gabriel was not actually terminally ill, as Gabriel’s genetic disease—Treacher Collins syndrome—does not generally have an effect on lifespan. He was also not a Make-a-Wish kid, as Ward was embellishing the story for the sake of the joke.

thats a easy defamation case right there saying that he was lying to a charity to get money even though he never did that

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Just now, spartaman64 said:

thats a easy defamation case right there saying that he was lying to a charity to get money even though he never did that

Indeed - it does seem to have at least some validity.

 

The ultimate question is can you make those kinds of statements and use "it was a joke" as a defense - especially if you would 100% lose easily if you hadn't claimed it was a joke?

 

Now, I'm not a law expert, so if the tribunal outcome was valid, the Supreme Court will uphold it (as the Superior Court did).

 

If it's not valid, and it's violating Ward's freedom of expression (which includes speech), then he'll win.


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5 minutes ago, dalekphalm said:

Indeed - it does seem to have at least some validity.

 

The ultimate question is can you make those kinds of statements and use "it was a joke" as a defense - especially if you would 100% lose easily if you hadn't claimed it was a joke?

 

Now, I'm not a law expert, so if the tribunal outcome was valid, the Supreme Court will uphold it (as the Superior Court did).

 

If it's not valid, and it's violating Ward's freedom of expression (which includes speech), then he'll win.

I feel like this might end up depending on the context.  Just as you can be photographed legally without consent anywhere in public but not in a bathroom because the former context does not carry with it an expectation of privacy, while the latter does, perhaps attending a comedy show - an event where you expect many things not based on any fact to be said, and sometimes targeted at audience members - constitutes an acceptance that something like this would be said, meaning the comedian is free of any wrongdoing, despite the fact that if this was done elsewhere, he would be in trouble, because in that context the "target" would not have consented to being involved in this.

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1 hour ago, dalekphalm said:

If anything, if he refuses, he'll just end up serving time and he'll still be on the hook for the fine.

 

If he truly believes he's innocent of a crime, then yes, he needs to appeal the decision all the way up the court system. Of course, it'll be years before he reaches the Supreme Court.

 

Just to clarify, the Tribunal awarded the kid money specifically because "Mr. Ward’s comments about Jérémy Gabriel’s disability compromised the young performer’s right to the safeguard of his dignity".

 

Additionally, the Superior Court of Quebec already upheld the ruling from the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal. This makes it more likely for him to get to the Supreme Court, but it also doesn't help his chances of winning.

 

Is that wrong? Is that acceptable? I'm gonna leave that up to the Supreme Court to decide, if it makes it that far.

 

Does calling something a joke count as a defense against basically lying about someone and making up details?

The issue that I have is: Is the Human Rights Tribunal an unbiased political body?
My suspicion is that it isn't. http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/hrto/application-and-hearing-process/ (not the same committee but I suspect it's similar)

From what I understand its members are NOT democratically elected (they're vetted by people who are likely to choose people with similar views and predispositions to themselves) and I wouldn't be surprised if this has resulted in institutionalized prejudice - using tax payer dollars.   

There was a case in the US where it was found by the US Supreme Court that the Colorado Human Rights Committee was systematically biased. https://coloradosun.com/2019/09/18/colorado-civil-rights-commission-division-audit/

-----

With that said, the bit that I do understand of Canadian law (which is limited) is that freedom of speech protections are not as strong as in the US. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech_in_Canada I could see the misleading things stated as being adequate to sink a person, though I'm not sure how strong the Mens Rea requirements are under Canadian law. 


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Defamation:

the action of damaging the good reputation of someone; slander or libel.

 

Reputation:

the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something.

 

Joke:

a thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter, especially a story with a funny punchline.

 

Thing:

1.)an object that one need not, cannot, or does not wish to give a specific name to.

2.)an inanimate material object as distinct from a living sentient being.

 

A real lawyer is going to have a hayday with this case, he is a comedian:

an entertainer whose act is designed to make an audience laugh.

 

Comedy:

professional entertainment consisting of jokes and satirical sketches, intended to make an audience laugh.

 

Satire:

the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

 

Exaggerate:

represent (something) as being larger, better, or worse than it really is.

 

He was simply being a Comedian which is a recognized Profession that he pays his taxes through the income he generates.  He told a joke that exaggerated the situation.  I was sure it would be the USA doing something this stupid before Canada.  Yall really need to protest or watch your freedoms slowly erode away.

 

 

 

 


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1 minute ago, Tristerin said:

I was sure it would be the USA doing something this stupid before Canada

Looking at whose in charge in Moose Land, why would you think that?


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2 minutes ago, Tristerin said:

Defamation:

the action of damaging the good reputation of someone; slander or libel.

 

Reputation:

the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something.

 

Joke:

a thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter, especially a story with a funny punchline.

 

Thing:

1.)an object that one need not, cannot, or does not wish to give a specific name to.

2.)an inanimate material object as distinct from a living sentient being.

A real lawyer is going to have a hayday with this case, he is a comedian:

an entertainer whose act is designed to make an audience laugh.

 

Comedy:

professional entertainment consisting of jokes and satirical sketches, intended to make an audience laugh.

 

Satire:

the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

 

Exaggerate:

represent (something) as being larger, better, or worse than it really is.

 

He was simply being a Comedian which is a recognized Profession that he pays his taxes through the income he generates.  He told a joke that exaggerated the situation.  I was sure it would be the USA doing something this stupid before Canada.  Yall really need to protest or watch your freedoms slowly erode away.

 

 

 

 

idk someone lying about someone stealing from charity comedic or not isnt the hill i want to die defending. its not even an exaggeration an exaggeration would be that guy was so bad at singing that the titanic sank or something

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5 minutes ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

I feel like this might end up depending on the context.  Just as you can be photographed legally without consent anywhere in public but not in a bathroom because the former context does not carry with it an expectation of privacy, while the latter does, perhaps attending a comedy show - an event where you expect many things not based on any fact to be said, and sometimes targeted at audience members - constitutes an acceptance that something like this would be said, meaning the comedian is free of any wrongdoing, despite the fact that if this was done elsewhere, he would be in trouble, because in that context the "target" would not have consented to being involved in this.

I don't see anywhere that states Gabriel was an audience member. If this is correct, and he was not an audience member, then he consented to nothing.

2 minutes ago, comander said:

The issue that I have is: Is the Human Rights Tribunal an unbiased political body?
My suspicion is that it isn't. http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/hrto/application-and-hearing-process/ (not the same committee but I suspect it's similar)

From what I understand its members are NOT democratically elected (they're vetted by people who are likely to choose people with similar views and predispositions to themselves) and I wouldn't be surprised if this has resulted in institutionalized prejudice - using tax payer dollars.   

Judges aren't elected either - you know that, right?

2 minutes ago, comander said:



-----

With that said, the bit that I do understand of Canadian law (which is limited) is that freedom of speech protections are not as strong as in the US. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech_in_Canada I could see the misleading things stated as being adequate to sink a person, though I'm not sure how strong the Mens Rea requirements are under Canadian law. 

Freedom of Expression in Canada is fundamentally similar to the US, but there are limits placed on it so that you can't use your rights to violate someone else's rights.

 

There are always lines drawn - even in the US. There's no such thing as true 100% freedom of speech - otherwise you'd be able to perform defamation or libel or yell "fire" in a crowded movie theatre, etc.

 

The difference is simply where the line is drawn. A heavily fascist country might draw the line incredibly broadly, such that anything and everything can be banned or fined. A democratic country like Canada might draw a much smaller line, and another democratic country like the US might draw an even smaller line.


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Just now, dalekphalm said:

I don't see anywhere that states Gabriel was an audience member. If this is correct, and he was not an audience member, then he consented to nothing.

Oh, yeah I suppose.  I somehow got it in my head that he was but if not then that explains this I think.  Personally I think the context thing I described is important in this because going completely one way or the other would be silly.  We cannot allow a situation where people can just say whatever they feel like without consequences and get away with anything by later saying "it was a joke" - that's why there are laws against things like slander, etc. - however we also definitely want to avoid a situation where no one can say anything without fear of being sued for something like "hurt feelings", such as in this case.

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1 minute ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

Oh, yeah I suppose.  I somehow got it in my head that he was but if not then that explains this I think.  Personally I think the context thing I described is important in this because going completely one way or the other would be silly.  We cannot allow a situation where people can just say whatever they feel like without consequences and get away with anything by later saying "it was a joke" - that's why there are laws against things like slander, etc. - however we also definitely want to avoid a situation where no one can say anything without fear of being sued for something like "hurt feelings", such as in this case.

idk its pretty easy for me not to accuse someone of stealing from charity without knowing if they did or not

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20 minutes ago, dalekphalm said:

The ultimate question is can you make those kinds of statements and use "it was a joke" as a defense - especially if you would 100% lose easily if you hadn't claimed it was a joke?

I don't know how it works in Canada either. I do know that, at least to some courts in the US, it is indeed enough to say it jokingly, in a context in which it's clearly an exaggeration or it is understood that is satirical speed, or something along those lines. I don't remember the exact quite, but it is somewhere in this video:

 

Spoiler

 

Again, this example happened in the US, not Canada, before someone assumes the same applies, or that I'm implying the same applies :P

I think a similar logic is what allows newspapers like The Onion to exist around the world (and they are in a tougher position, since every now and then someone cites them as a serious source or criticize them for terrible, misinforming journalism :D).

 

Now, given the current ruling in OP's case, I would tend to think that the case at the very least is not clear-cut in favor of the defendant under Canadian law...

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1 minute ago, SpaceGhostC2C said:

I don't know how it works in Canada either. I do know that, at least to some courts in the US, it is indeed enough to say it jokingly, in a context in which it's clearly an exaggeration or it is understood that is satirical speed, or something along those lines. I don't remember the exact quite, but it is somewhere in this video:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

Again, this example happened in the US, not Canada, before someone assumes the same applies, or that I'm implying the same applies :P

I think a similar logic is what allows newspapers like The Onion to exist around the world (and they are in a tougher position, since every now and then someone cites them as a serious source or criticize them for terrible, misinforming journalism :D).

 

Now, given the current ruling in OP's case, I would tend to think that the case at the very least is not clear-cut in favor of the defendant under Canadian law...

I would classify it the same as companies being allowed to lie in their marketing, under something called 'puffery'. Where something is so clearly not true that nobody is expected to believe it.


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10 minutes ago, SpaceGhostC2C said:

I don't know how it works in Canada either. I do know that, at least to some courts in the US, it is indeed enough to say it jokingly, in a context in which it's clearly an exaggeration or it is understood that is satirical speed, or something along those lines. I don't remember the exact quite, but it is somewhere in this video:

 

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Again, this example happened in the US, not Canada, before someone assumes the same applies, or that I'm implying the same applies :P

I think a similar logic is what allows newspapers like The Onion to exist around the world (and they are in a tougher position, since every now and then someone cites them as a serious source or criticize them for terrible, misinforming journalism :D).

 

Now, given the current ruling in OP's case, I would tend to think that the case at the very least is not clear-cut in favor of the defendant under Canadian law...

Could be - that's quite a different situation, with the John Oliver show literally being satirical but still mostly true news. Plus the fact that a lot of what Oliver said was backed up with at least some evidence.

 

Additionally, in the US specifically, there's a clause that allows journalists to be at least somewhat untruthful so as to protect the institution of journalism as a whole.

7 minutes ago, yolosnail said:

I would classify it the same as companies being allowed to lie in their marketing, under something called 'puffery'. Where something is so clearly not true that nobody is expected to believe it.

I don't think that would apply - how can you say what he claimed was "so clearly not true"? People could easily be expected to believe that Gabriel made up his illness and faked being terminal, etc. It's not exactly like that's never happened. And lots of people believe comedians because "it's funny because it's true" type scenarios are common.

 

Now, I'm not saying Gabriel was correct or not. Personally I would draw the line at whether Gabriel experienced real undue hardships because of Ward's jokes (Example: people confronted him and accused him of lying, etc).

 

You can joke about other people, but that doesn't mean you should do it to the point where you make their life a living hell - especially if they didn't even do something wrong.


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23 hours ago, dalekphalm said:

Judges aren't elected either - you know that, right?

In a number of cases in the US, judges are elected. It does vary though. 

My point that a group has institutionalized its belief structure is still valid though. I'm willing to bet that the people in the majority of Human Rights Committees are non-representative of the general population (or even a subset of the general pop such as those with university degrees or legal backgrounds).

Anyone who is against rigged systems should have at least a dash of criticality towards these committees, they're acting akin to courts and the legal fees paid by the accused are VERY REAL. Wrong-think shouldn't cost a person 3 years of after tax wages (for the average person) in legal fees.  That's a human right's violation. 
 

23 hours ago, dalekphalm said:

Freedom of Expression in Canada is fundamentally similar to the US, but there are limits placed on it so that you can't use your rights to violate someone else's rights.

I can see this. 
 

23 hours ago, dalekphalm said:

There are always lines drawn - even in the US. There's no such thing as true 100% freedom of speech - otherwise you'd be able to perform defamation or libel or yell "fire" in a crowded movie theatre, etc.

 

The difference is simply where the line is drawn. A heavily fascist country might draw the line incredibly broadly, such that anything and everything can be banned or fined. A democratic country like Canada might draw a much smaller line, and another democratic country like the US might draw an even smaller line.

I'm going to preface this with: I don't know enough about this case to have a strong opinion which is valid (in terms of legal consequences). I would need more specifics. 

My general bias is towards allowing expression which can reasonably be believed as exaggerated/hyperbolic - I don't see a need to get ALL of the details correct so long as the expression is unlikely to invoke action against the person being joked about (other than laughter). My other bias is towards NOT forcing people to act against their conscious (relevant in the CRCC case I cited). 

I am generally against singling out people and making them targets for mob action but the kid who sang essentially waived his anonymity when he chose to make a public performance. I do think that the comedian should have done more due diligence but I don't know if they should be held civilly liable.

tldr: this shouldn't be illegal 

 


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Judgment is stupid but article doesn't really mention that there was a clear persistence on Jéremy's case.

 

Also we're talking about the same humorist who thought it was intelligent to make jokes about Cédrika Provencher, a 10-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered.

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8 minutes ago, dalekphalm said:

I don't think that would apply - how can you say what he claimed was "so clearly not true"? People could easily be expected to believe that Gabriel made up his illness and faked being terminal, etc. It's not exactly like that's never happened. And lots of people believe comedians because "it's funny because it's true" type scenarios are common.

For me, the fact that a comedian said it during a performance is enough to make me think it's clearly not true.

 

You don't actually believe that a horse walked into a bar, and the barman said "Why the long face?", do you?


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Just now, yolosnail said:

For me, the fact that a comedian said it during a performance is enough to make me think it's clearly not true.

 

You don't actually believe that a horse walked into a bar, and the barman said "Why the long face?", do you?

That's not a good comparison, since by definition, a horse cannot talk.

 

However, he's taking a at least mildly well known person with physical deformities, and he's making exaggerations about the nature of his condition - a condition that's rare and most people don't know anything about.

 

Also, on top of that, comedians joke about real things all the time. Sometimes it's not easy to tell what they're exaggerating or making up vs what's actually true.


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