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No laughing at lesbians
Humour is aggressive. It imposes on people, and can offend. Even the purest of wordplay will offend somebody, somewhere. Once the joker steps out of pure wordplay, he takes a risk, but the risk is necessary: nothing ventured, nothing gained. The biggest risk is to the joker himself - people may not find his joke funny. Another risk is disapproval. He should develop a thick skin and shrug off both impostors.
If you're offended by certain types of jokes, there are steps you can take: do not befriend people likely to make such jokes, do not read newspapers, magazines or blogs that are likely to contain such material, and do not go to an "edgy" comedy club. Above all, do not go to an edgy comedy club and heckle; you may receive what comedienne Jo Brand calls a "nuclear put-down". Talking of jokes, have you heard the one about the lesbians, the heckle and the Human Rights Commission? Kathy Shaidle in Pajamas Media:
[Guy] Earle takes his comedy seriously. He explains to Pajamas Media:
Stand-up is an art form. I like the guys that live this rule. Traditional “Lenny Bruce” school of comedy is my bread and butter. It must contain social commentary and have “a message” — not Carrot Top or prop acts.
He claims it was his dedication to his art that led to the events at Vancouver’s Zesty’s Restaurant on May 22, 2007; he wanted some hecklers to give the evening’s final open mic comic a break. He told Pajamas Media it’s something he’s done countless times before as an MC:
I’ve said some awfully derogatory remarks to people who show no respect to a live stage show. My remarks are meant to shock and silence an unruly, disruptive group or person. I have generally offended a few people over the years but I never regret it because it is a function of being in a live and dynamic show and my jabs never come unsolicited. I can be accused of acting in poor taste but I cannot be accused of hating.
The Vancouver Sun tried to sort out the “he saids” and “she saids” of the booze-fueled event, but only Earle agreed to speak on the record:
Earle said he was the show’s MC when [Lorna] Pardy and two of her friends walked in, sat in the booth closest to the stage, and began heckling him and other comics.
“Two of them started making out, flipping me the bird, and saying I hated lesbians,” he said.
Earle said Pardy misconstrued some of his remarks and took others out of context.
“They were drunk, they were being jerks, and I was very rude and visceral to them because, like I said, if you have a heckler, what you want to do is put them in their place by offending them, so I tried to hit them where it hurts and the only thing I had to key on was the fact that they were lesbians.”
Earle says the women threw drinks in his face, and he admits he broke Pardy’s sunglasses. It wasn’t pretty and it sure wasn’t comedy. The sorry situation sounds like a matter for the management, or maybe the police. But the British Columbia Human Rights Commission?
One would think that Canada’s HRCs would be too busy to deal with a drunken, juvenile encounter at a late night comedy club. After all, when they aren’t taking author Mark Steyn to court for “blatant Islamophobia” or prosecuting publisher Ezra Levant for reprinting the Danish Mohammed cartoons, they’re banning a Christian pastor for life from ever quoting portions of the Bible — and that’s just this year alone.
But charging a comedian with “hate speech” and “homophobia” for heckling some hecklers is a made-to-order case for the Human Rights Commissions.
Perhaps it's wrong to laugh at lesbians. Perhaps it's only wrong to laugh at lesbians qua lesbians. I'm inclined to think it's OK to laugh at anything qua anything. Either way, it shouldn't be illegal. What next? No laughing at Muslims?