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A Canadian comedian has been dragged before Quebec’s human rights tribunal because he made a joke that hurt someone’s feelings:

Montreal comedian Mike Ward testified at a human rights tribunal hearing today, saying he didn’t think a joke about a young man with a condition that causes facial disfigurement crossed a line.
More than a dozen comedians turned out to show their support for Ward, who is the subject of a 2012 complaint to the Quebec tribunal after Ward ridiculed Jérémy Gabriel in his comedy show, Mike Ward s’eXpose. 
Derek Seguin, one of the comedians at the hearing on Wednesday, said the case is of “high interest to all comedians.”
“The kid was trying to become a public figure,” Seguin said.
He has to accept the consequence of becoming a public figure. I mean, if Donald Trump don’t want to be made fun of, then stay out of the public eye. But is Donald Trump going to be able to sue me for my Donald Trump joke?”
“Hopefully, that’s how the tribunal will see it.”

Ace of Spades had a good post about this topic a couple of years ago that always remained with me, though as I recall he was talking about the USA rather than Canada. In it, he explained that the state is increasingly using prosecution and the threat of prosecution to clamp down on “undesirable” speech and alter peoples’ behavior. Due to the cost of having to defend oneself in court, plus the reputation damage that court proceedings can cause, and with the fear and mental anguish related to the risk of being fined or jailed, many people increasingly censor themselves and avoid saying anything “controversial.”

In theory, the legal process is supposed to put guilty people in prison and the innocent should have nothing to fear, but increasingly, as Ace likes to say, the process itself has become the punishment. It is used to harass critics of the left under dubious “hate speech” laws, and is used to impose speech controls on whatever segments of society which have fallen into disfavor with the left (a category that seems to grow wider by the day).

You had better believe comedians in Canada will be looking very closely at what happens with Mike Ward’s trial. And you had better believe that even if Ward is found innocent, many will be weighing what they say the next time they get up in front of a crowd, for fear of being dragged in front of the Orwell-like “human rights tribunal.”

(h/t to Kotaku in Action, which is a great source for SJW censorship stories)