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.