Hate Speech? I Call Bullshit.

Sigh. I like my gay people, you know? My best friend’s a gay guy, I’ve had lesbian and bi-sexual friends all my life, and I’ve been a staunch defender of gay rights since I was in my teens, long before it ever got popular. I think my mother thought I was a lesbian in training when I said, “But, Mom, people should be able to love whoever they love.” I mean, I was 14 and it wasn’t even 1990 yet.

Even though I like my gay people, I’m going to say a few things here that might get me in trouble.

Here in Vancouver, the Human Rights Tribunal is convening to investigate complaints that a comedian used hate speech when he flamed a couple lesbians at his show in May.

Here’s where we have a big ol’ class, boys and girls, about how Canada and the United States are different. So let’s digress and give y’all the crash course, okay, for where it pertains to the right to speak freely?

We Canucks have freedom of speech… sort of.

The USA has carte blanche on freedom of speech, so it’s no surprise we’ll hear hate-spewing fuckheads shouting racist remarks followed by “I got a right to speak free, man!”

Here in Canada, no such thing would occur. Why? Inciting hatred is illegal.

Hey, that’s what you like about us, after all. We’re nice, we’re polite, we’re Canadians. We even say please and thank you. And, we promise, when we talk smack about ya, at least we’ll do it nicely. (Most of the time.)

Aside from the incident last month, there’s another case quietly being heard in the courts, getting little press out there in the world, which is surprising, because it’s huge. MacLean’s Magazine dedicated an entire issue in 2007 to Islam in the world today, which was staggering in its slant against Islam. I mean, I’m open-minded, have known Islamic people, and even taught ESL to Saudi Arabian Muslims who I thought were, by far, some of the kindest and most generous people I’d ever met.

And, even still, after reading that issue of MacLean’s, because it was MacLean’s (Canada’s equivalent to Newsweek, and just as trusted) I found myself becoming slightly more anti-Islamic than I’d used to be, which shocked the hell out of me.

Now MacLean’s is facing a lawsuit from the public as well as the government, for spreading hatred. It’s been a long, long time since such a lawsuit has been heard here, though, and against such a venerable publication. And, in this instance, I’m proud and happy that our laws are speaking up and saying that MacLean’s biases against Islam, and trying to argue against it, are the equivalent of “mild-mannered” hate-speech. Good.

So into this current climate wades a new controversy. A human rights tribunal will convene to hear the case of Lorna Pardy versus Guy Earle and Zesty’s Restaurant.

The gist of it all? Basically, a comedian heckled some lesbians at his open mic night he was hosting.

There’s no Youtube video, unfortunately, so much of what transpired is he-said/she-said. What is claimed is that these lesbians were out on the patio all night, getting loaded with drinks, and then they came right into the “club” part of Zesty’s Restaurant on Commercial Drive, sat at the front, and started making out.

The comedian, Guy Earle, says he was pissed off by the disrespect of strolling into a comedy show just to make out — full tongues, everything, in the front row. He says he doesn’t care if you’re “gay, straight, or giraffes”, it’s just rude. He got pissed off and launched on them.

Apparently he made comments like “You’re fat, you’re old, you’re not even lesbian!” and brought up comments about sex toys and such. There’s not a lot of context being put towards these alleged remarks, so it’s hard to really beef it up. He admits he got angry, he says they took it up a notch too.

A question flying around Vancouver is, at what point does the age-old tradition of heckle-smashing in comedy routines become hate speech? Or does it ever?

And here’s where I might get myself in trouble here.

Vancouver’s Commercial Drive, where this went down, is considered many things — the counterculture capital of Canada, a hip place, a great restaurant street, little Italy, where to catch the World Cup of Soccer… but it’s also acknowledged as home to some of the most militant lesbians out there.

We’re talking really, really militant lesbians sometimes. I heard someone describe it as, “Well, comparing them to your average lesbian is like comparing an average black person to a Black Panther, minus all the violence and stuff. They’re just really out there.”

I find that statement a little over the top, but it’s certainly accurate to what the PERCEPTION is from some of the folks out there.

So, if some of them are that in-your-face, the question is, how much did the lesbians in question throw that in his face, and at what point does what you flaunt about yourself mean you’re permitting that to become a weapon against you?

I mean, if you’re acting like a militant lesbian, isn’t that the first thing someone who’s pissed off at you is going to notice and comment on? What, in the name of being politically correct and not hurting anyone’s “alternate lifestyle” sensibility, you’re supposed to try guessing at randomly arcane “safe” things to insult them about? Like, what, “I bet you take your library books back late, bitch”? Right, yeah.

Like, if some fucking asshole driving a Jaguar acts all entitled about making an illegal turn in front of you while driving his Jaguar, what’s the first thing he’s going to get insulted about? “Yeah, you fuckers and your Jaguars, you’re all entitled assholes,” right? Is it a stereotype? Yeah, but it’s a stereotype the guy perpetuated. If he was driving a Civic, you’d find some other obvious way in with the insults. It’s how we roll, man.

This is different, I think, than the Michael Richards tirade where he started launching into black men for being black, and calling them “nigger” and saying 50 years ago was better when they’d had forks shoved up their asses. This is very different than that. VERY different from that.

This is two lesbians walking into a comedy show and fucking making out in the front row. It’s fucking RUDE. If it was a STRAIGHT couple, I’d ask for their asses to be taken the fuck out of the club, ‘cos I think it’s uncalled for that someone sits in the front row and just goes at it full-out with their partner. Sit in the fucking back, you know? It’s the civilized thing to do. But because it’s two lesbians who, I think, deserved to be called out for walking in and disrespecting this other person’s career and efforts by sitting there and rudely making out in the front row it’s somehow homophobic?

These chicks were just wanting to start something, I think. A club on Lesbian Central, a couple militant dykes camping out front row after getting loaded on booze, and then smack-talking the comedian? Yeah, sounds like someone was button-pushing.

And it’s bullshit. If anyone is acting like a militant lesbian or a militant Christian or a militant Muslim or a militant racist or even just a militant dick, they deserve to be called out on what they’re acting like. If they’re being antagonistic and trying to use their beliefs or lifestyle as a get-out-of-jail free card because they pissed someone off and the other party has said something mean to them, then they oughta fuck right off.

They want to be all in-your-face about their beliefs and their lifestyle, then when someone calls ’em on it and comments and gets back in their face, then they want to turtle and claim the “offending party” is some big, bad meanie who’s spewing hate speech? FUCKING HYPOCRITE.

Comedians have always treated hecklers mean. It’s an unwritten rule of attending comedy: Keep your fucking mouth shut if you don’t want the comedian to spank you on the stage.

They’ll trash talk anyone who makes a scene — and that’s most particularly the job of someone like Guy Earle, who was the host of an open mic night, since he’s the guy who had to give a night full of amateurs a little structure. Why? Because everyone wants to show up and be the hot shit who makes the headline comic squirm. Anyone who goes to comedy shows knows this is true — there’s always some asshole with six beers in ’em who thinks they belong on stage, so they smack-talk comedians.

Like a reader in our local paper wrote about Lorna Pardy and Co: “Don’t pitch if you can’t catch.”

I loathe real hate speech. I support our laws against it. But bullshit whiners like these chicks, who go fucking looking for a fight then cry foul because they’ve lost, deserve to fucking lose and lose big.

As a Canadian who usually proudly appreciates the distinctions in freedom to speak between my country and the United States, because we shut down hate speech, I think there’s a world of difference between someone like Earle and someone like Michael Richards, and *I* am offended he gets lumped in with a true hate-spewing fucker like Richards, because it lowers the standards for what we, as a society, really ought to be offended by.

I think there’s a sad irony a case like this is coming up the week that George Carlin dies. Sigh.

What do you guys think? Am I blowing smoke out my ass? Am I secretly a homophobic bitch and this exposes it all? Eh?

Links:
Here’s a great page on Georgia Straight’s blog where they’ve posted both the controversial Michael Richards anti-black rant along with Guy Earle talking to a Toronto talk show about the Necking Lesbian Controversy here in Vancouver. Here’s the New Rebublic tackling this story, and the National Post. Guy Earle’s Myspace page. No info yet on how to contribute to his legal fund, something I hope is forthcoming soon, as I’d like this fight to get the support it deserves.