Monday, December 2, 2019

Mike Ward, Canadian Comedian sued by Canadian Human Rights Commission to pay $42,000 for making jokes about a deaf boy

The French Canadian deaf boy's wish was to sing for the pope. This is a wish that Adele, the British singer, helped him achieve. The story was huge in Quebec. Later Celine Dion was moved by the Quebec news item to include the boy in her Las Vegas show.

The boy's name is Jérémy Gabriel. He suffers a syndrome that causes head, face, skull and ear deformities. His ambition is to become a singer.

This is the kind of story that makes people feel great. The most unlikely ambition made true by sheer will and ambition. It doesn't matter how well Gabriel sings. Just pulling it off is sufficient. It allows people to feel great about themselves for ignoring the kid actually doesn't sing very well. He cannot. Because he is deaf.

Mike Ward suffers no such conceit. His jokes are merely describing the situation in straightforward terms. His crime is making fun of everyone involved with our weird conceits and our inflated opinions of ourselves for being so gracious unrealistically.
Two of three judges ruled Mike Ward’s comments regarding Gabriel were not justifiable in a society where freedom of expression is valued.
This is none of our business. Canada, you be you. However from the American point of view this is the essence of our differences. That statement is self-contradictory. From our point of view it doesn't even make sense. Freedom of expression is valued when things that appall us are defended. There is no need to protect proper speech. To allow the things we disagree with out there for further discussion is real freedom of speech. If what Mike Ward says is so awful, then say so and why. Pound him into the dirt. Overwhelm Ward with proper common sense. And if you cannot do that then you are not so confident in your position and would rather have government do all your shutting down of unhappy speech for you.

Mike Ward's comedy is put on the page behind this one. It is a very long set. One hour. Unusual for a comedy club. The club is French Canadian, the audience is French Canadian but Ward is half English and half French and this set is delivered in English without a trace of French accent. Along with some Canadian French. He is horrible. And I mean whore eh bull. His language is casually grotesque. If you bother, then you're gong to hate him. I know you people and you cannot stand this type of thing.

His style is to view all life interactions from the most base point of view possible.

Before I put up his set I want to tell you a story because something happened in real life that matches his story fairly closely.

I have a subset of friends that I developed over time then abruptly dropped for several reasons. I think about them often but not with particular fondness. We did a lot of things together over a period of years. All of it interesting, but not all of it happy.

For the most part they are intellectual and philosophical types. They also smoke pot. They're fond of playing cards and smoking pot. Not all of them, but most of them.

One time they were playing the card game hearts on the back patio of one of their homes. I was not playing. I was just hanging out. The dynamics of me being there is a little bit odd. I don't fit precisely. One of the guys was talking about tarot cards and boring the living piss out of everyone. He would not get off the subject and he kept pronouncing the cards as tah-row' and not the usual ta-row.

Tah-row', tah-row', tah-row', tah-row', tah-row', tah-row', tah-row', tah-row', over and over. He was driving his point that we all mispronounce this word. Nobody responded. Nobody asked any tarot-related questions. Nobody cared. Everyone kept waiting for the guy to get off the subject but no amount of ignoring would stop him.

Finally a lull in conversation as they examined their newly dealt hand.

I said, "I don't know anything about tah-row' but I have read some Emerson."

It took a moment to sink in, they were focused on their cards,  that I was conflating occult cards with an American transcendentalist. Being philosophers they thought that was hilarious. They knew I wasn't that stupid. I disrupted their whole card game. The guy who was annoying everyone thought it was the funniest thing ever. He actually named his weird little dog Thoreau. It was just his type of joke. And it did work to get him off the subject of tarot cards. He couldn't continue without being even more ridiculous and the whole table of card players crack up laughing all over again. Even the non-philosophers thought that was funny because everyone heard of Thoreau and Emerson.

These same people were playing again. This time in the basement of the same house.

With a dropped ceiling, the space is too tight. The tarot card guy is 6'4". Everyone else is regular height but they have only reach up to touch the ceiling. The basement is remodeled very nicely but there is nothing that can be done about the ceiling being too low. It affects acoustics. Although expansive and very well done the space is still too tight. I hate it to pieces.

Again, they are playing cards and smoking pot at their table. The weird thing is, each one has his own pipe and his own sack of pot. I am sitting apart from them. So is Jiva, a Hari Krishna vegetarian friend. It's helpful to know that Jiva knows many of the same deaf people that I do. This secondary circle of friends overlap. Although, I've only seen them together once. That was enough to know that Jiva is very adept in sign language. Something I know about him by seeing it only one time.

Jiva also looks a lot like Tiny Tim. Long wavy hair, long dark heavy topcoat. A bit goth. Doc Martin boots that he painted purple. He likes me. But his main squeeze does not. She is a remarkable artist. Splendidly talented. If you care to see her work. Marie Vlasic, of pickle fame. Oh! There's Jiva and Marie in Jiva's home. Marie likes her subjects to be oddballs. People with deformities and with outrageous tattoos. Her style is hyperrealistic. I am too ordinary for Marie.

I should add, Marie is talented as H-E-Double paint stir sticks. She decorated their porch for Halloween and made it scary looking with bound hay clusters large black plastic crows. Who would even think of that?

They were playing hearts again. They had dealt the cards. In this game, you take the worst card in your hand and pass it to the player on your right. They change it up so you don't piss off the same person each time. Pass to the left, pass across, and so on.

During this moment the whole room is quiet. I use the lull in conversation to mention, speaking to no one in particular, that when I was fourteen I connected with a group of deaf men who all worked together as printers under the Vocational Rehabilitation program that gave money to both employers and employees to get handicapped people off the regular dole. I connected with two people. They introduced me to the other workers at the print shop. (Not relevant to my story, that space is now filled by a Christian book store and an African Violet store in Englewood. The print shop is gone)

Sometimes we went to lunch at a restaurant. Other times they played hearts on their lunch hour. Same game that the philosopher-types are playing now. They did the same discard to the right bit (left/across).

The youngest of the deaf still six or so years older than me, could also hear the best and could also enunciate English words the best. His friends couldn't hear him so when he spoke in my presence it was for my benefit, and to show me that he really can speak, not for the benefit of the other deaf who could not hear him. I was not playing cards. I don't like cards. Yet his speaking at the card table was for me.

"Hey! You. gived. me. da. black. BITCH!"

Someone had passed him the least fortunate card. The exact same thing that is happening again twenty years later at a different card table.

I related that in unmodulated voice just as he did. I imitated the guy twenty years later to a tee. I was being accurate. I was pleased with my accuracy. Not funny. There was nothing funny about it. Nothing funny intended. No ridicule. Just honesty. Just accuracy. I was accurate as I could possibly be and the entire room exploded in laughter resounding in that low-ceiling hard surface space and I shrank zoop zoop zoop like a cartoon inside my shoe. I immediately realized that I had betrayed my earlier friends. Somehow accidentally I had violated a trust with God. I felt like I had sinned. I did not mean to be funny. Certainly not at my deaf-friends' expense.

And the guy cracking up laughing the hardest was Jiva!

The most religious guy of all of us. The guy who actually lives his religion, the only one there besides myself who speaks their language, thought my imitation of their unmodulated speech was painfully hilarious. I still don't understand that. I was heartbroken. I heart broke myself. I couldn't believe I had betrayed so easily. I prayed their forgiveness and they weren't even around to be offended. I prayed to God for forgiveness. I did not mean to be funny. I did not mean to betray. And that incident taught me a very serious lesson to never let that happen again.

All my friends are assholes for thinking the wrong things are funny. I never know when they're going to crack up laughing at the stupidest most wrong things.

That is what Mike Ward lives for. That is why Canada's French are making his humor so expensive. Mike Ward crossed the line with Canada's conceptualization of free speech. Canada thinks and feels that Mike Ward interfered with Jérémy Gabriel's free speech.


edutcher said...

They value freedom of expression. We value freedom of speech.

I note today is the the birthday of Richard Montgomery, who was killed at the gates of Quebec in 1776, trying to free Canuckistan from the socialists.

Too bad he didn't win through.

Amartel said...

Fucking canadian savages don't value freedom of expression or speech. A ridiculous ruling in any civilized society. Civilized people realize you are surrounded by people at all times that you probably don't agree with on everything or sometimes anything. Barbarians at the gates! But we all soldier on. Whatever. No big deal. (Unless they're planning to hurt something other than your feelings.)
Does this stupid joke about the deaf boy really hurt anyone? No. The kid isn't going to hear it unless some simpering adult TELLS him. It actually kind of points out the sanctimony of pretending that this kid is ever going to be a singer. Pure fantasy for the sake of pretend good will. They're not really doing him any real favors. Celine Dion and Adele are just virtue signalling along with everyone else. Haha, joke's on you, assholes.
I have a friend who is pretty straight-laced man of the community kind of a guy and he told a story once that just cracked me up because it was so out of character.
It was funny.
Or at least I thought so.
He's on a plane and there's some sort of mechanical issue necessitating a harrowing descent. The captain makes a terrible announcement and the plane is suddenly diving for earth, the nearest available airport, bumping and grinding through the skies, people screaming, people praying, people sweating it out, finally landing amidst a fleet of fire and emergency vehicles, horns ablarin' and lights apoppin', and screeching to a halt on the tarmac. The plane had been carrying members of the Special Olympics team and after all this there was, briefly, relieved silence in the cabin until one of the Special Olympics kids speaks up from the back and says, retardedly and delightedly, "FIRE TRUCK!"
Soldier on, everyone.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

this is where the totalitarian American left will take us. soon.

MamaM said...

Damned if I know where viewing all life interactions from the most base point of view possible leads or what the value in doing so might be.

MamaM said...

The kid isn't going to hear it unless some simpering adult TELLS him. It actually kind of points out the sanctimony of pretending that this kid is ever going to be a singer. Pure fantasy for the sake of pretend good will. They're not really doing him any real favors. Celine Dion and Adele are just virtue signalling along with everyone else. Haha, joke's on you, assholes.

Where does this shit come from? According to the "kid", he was 12 or 13 when he first saw the videos. I doubt very much that a simpering adult had to tell an adolencent boy, even a deaf one with a bone-anchored hearing aid, how to google his name or obtain a written transcription of online video material if he wasn't actually able to hear it himself. There's a high probabilty that the children who he went to school with would have been willing to let him know he'd been used as the butt of a joke by a comedian and publicly proclaimed ugly for the sake of a laugh. He was six when he received his hearing aid and ten when he sang for the Pope. He's 19 years old now, an adult who according to the videos I found and listened to, can actually sing and has done so publicly. If Wade thinks it's funny mock an ugly adult who sings in public, so be it.

What kind of scum goes after a young boy who's lived with a debilitating condition since birth and can do nothing to change his looks and physical condition, and uses the child's appearance along with his desire to sing for the Pope to put himself in the public eye and receive the attention and self-gratification of public laugher?

"The child who got to sing for the Pope — petit Jeremy, as Ward called him — was one such person. While Ward said he was initially happy to defend Gabriel when others made fun of him, he'd been under the impression that he was a terminally ill child, being granted a dying wish by a children's foundation, he continued.

"But five years later, he wasn't dead, he's not dying," he quipped on stage. "The little bastard, he's just not dying."

Gabriel couldn't be killed, Ward continued, joking that he'd unsuccessfully tried to drown him once, and that when he looked up Gabriel's condition online, he found that it was being "ugly."

Oh yeah, if only he'd been terminally ill instead of coping with an unusual and debilitating condition since birth, and hadn't received a hearing aid that allowed him to discover joy in singing, and hadn't as a child expressed a desire to sing for the Pope, things would have been different. He wouldn't have been mockworthy then and Wade would have left him alone.

Amartel said...

So tell it to Wade. I already know he's an asshole.

MamaM said...

I wasn't addressing Wade, Amartel. I asked where the presumption that the deaf kid couldn't hear, couldn't sing and would need a simpering adult to tell him what was said about him came from, only I called it shit.

Amartel said...

Semper Simper, Scoldilocks. Pick a fight with someone who cares. I renew my suggestion that you take it up your objections to Wade with Wade. The two of you are made for each other: Wade loves to outrage and you love to be outraged.

MamaM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MamaM said...

No fight picked, Amartel. It's you who seems to feel the need to repeatedly tell me what to do, project the outrage on display in your 4:46 comment onto me, and resort to namecalling.

I presented the fact that the "kid" you decided couldn't hear, sing or figure out what was being said about him without a simpering adult to TELL him, could actually do all three.