Tag Archives: freedom

What the c*** word meant when the Daily Mail reported a comedy court case

Guy Earle: a scary homophobic monster?

Yesterday afternoon, comedian Guy Earle contacted me from Canada to correct my blog of yesterday morning.

My blog had been about a case in which Guy was accused of  making comments during a comedy show in which he was said to have attacked an audience member’s “identity and dignity as a woman and a lesbian”. His defence was: “I don’t hate anyone based on their sexual orientation… But I do hate hecklers, and sometimes I get a little vehement.”

Yesterday, he told me: “I have been misquoted more than Churchill.

“You put in your blog that I said to her: You’re fat and ugly. You’re not even lesbian. No guy will fuck ya! That’s why you’re with each other. Somebody put a cunt in her mouth and shut her the fuck up. Which one of you wears the strap-on dildo? Because silicone cunt crazy is still cunt crazy in my book.”

I told him I had picked up this quote from a 2011 article in the Daily Mail which used asterisks for the four-letter words.

“C***” is ‘cock’ not ‘cunt’,” he explained. “I actually NEVER called them the C word – Quoted that I did, it makes me real unlovable by about 51% of the world’s population.

“I did use the C word once, however, on stage that night. It was when (some of) the dumbass Vancouver amateur comics groaned when I stuffed it to the hecklers…

“I was like: Oh, you cunts, shut the fuck up!… Do you even know what stand-up is? I provide a stage for you and you groan at me when I’m dealing with an unruly heckler when you should be going over to their table and asking them to shut the fuck up or get the fuck out? WTF!!!”

He told me the exchange with audience member Lorna Pardy who, he says was heckling him, actually went like this:

Lorna PardyHey Asshole, you’re not funny!

Guy Earle – Oh? I’m not funny?… Well, guess what? You’re not a lesbian, you’re just fat and ugly and nobody will fuck you… Somebody put a cock in her mouth and shut her the fuck up… and – while we’re on the subject – I’ve actually never had the opportunity to use these jokes – but since I got ya in front of me, can you answer the question: ‘When you’re both on the rag – how do you choose which one gets to go on the fishing trip?’

Lorna Pardy – ‘Blah blah blah’ wish your mother aborted you, etc.

Guy Earle – You say you’re lesbian but you still wear a strap-on, right? Which one of you wears the strap-on? ‘Cause silicone cock-crazy is still cock crazy, in my books…

Lorna Pardy – ‘Blah blah blah’ I’d like to break this beer bottle and jam it in his neck, etc…

“I mean,” he told me in an e-mail yesterday, “you have to at least get my jokes right. You see, all the quotes (as included in yesterday’s blog) – when you look at them – don’t even make sense as JOKES.

“I HATE defending myself and correcting my quotes.

“In the freedom of speech/rights perspective – I should NEVER have to defend myself and I abhor it BUT when people are misquoting my JOKES it is a double-edged sword in the side.

“People misquote me to make me the monster – I am the fricking victim here.

“I’ve been five years without work, can’t get a gig as a liability, can’t get my book published due to ‘perceived homophobic undertones’, lost my will to stand up, lost my future (temporarily – as a film maker) and await sweet vindication for a ‘crime’ I didn’t commit – all because some half-drunk asshole in dyke’s clothing tried to make a cash-grab. The biggest joke of all is: I don’t have a pot to spit in.”

“Maybe the best way to look on it,” I suggested, “is that all publicity is added profile for you.”

“The publicity has been unfavourable,” he told me, “and I have been repeatedly used in the media for some political mandates that have no bearing on the actual issue. For example, there was big media on me the week before they elected Steven Harper – big conservative – right wing – down with the Human Rights Code kinda politics.

“Then I was dropped like hot shit when I started focusing on the problems with the country. The country remains ignorant and I remain notorious, at best, but perceived as some homophobic hack – which, again, isn’t surprising given what people write about me.

“So, ironically, I become famous but as a pariah. Publicity CAN be bad – Don’t let the cliché fool ya.”

I told Guy I would probably blog about his responses today.

“Do you have a recent, non-copyright photo of yourself?” I asked .

Guy got a Golden Shaft Award + a large cheque

“I don’t really have too much recent stuff,” he replied. “But I like the short hair ones where I’m all slicked-back hair. Go ahead and use that – It makes me look like the scary homophobic monster (and mysterious). Or how about me dressed up as Jesus on my MySpace page? No? How about me surrounded by naked painted chicks during my winning of the Golden Shaft award? I can’t write this shit – It’s my fucked-up life!”

Guy was born in Guildford, England, though he now lives in Canada. He told me yesterday:

“I hope, someday, to come to the UK to do comedy. Actually, it’s a childhood dream. I have this notion that I would be welcomed by ‘my people’ and this romantic idea that the UK is where I was ‘meant’ to ‘make it’. Where are you from?”

“Scotland,” I replied. “Campbeltown and Aberdeen, but then Ilford in Essex and now Borehamwood in Hertfordshire.”

“North Americans are so bloody sensitive to sarcasm, it’s ridiculous,” he told me. “Something that I love about the Scottish – Their attitude is of blunt-honesty and, if you step out of line, you get snarked… People here don’t always get that – they’re too fucking serious all the time and taking themselves too seriously.

“My mom taught me to poke fun at things starting with MYSELF – after that, everybody else is fair game.”

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Canadian comedy chaos. Loud lesbian heckler? Or irate picked-upon punter?

Canadian comedian Guy Earle just hates hecklers… quite a lot

This may be the 21st century, but news can still travel slowly from the American Colonies to Britain.

The So It Goes blog’s Vancouver-based correspondent Anna Smith has drawn my attention to something which started back in 2007.

It happened when English-born comedian Guy Earle was hosting an Open Mic comedy evening at Zesty’s club in a restaurant in Vancouver. He felt that a lady called Lorna Pardy and a group of friends were disrupting his show. He responded, according to Canada’s gay and lesbian news magazine Xtra!, “by letting loose with what he no doubt considered to be some clever putdowns on the topic of their apparent lesbianism.”

And ended up in court.

Lorna Pardy said she was in the process of placing a drinks order with two waitresses when her girlfriend kissed her on the cheek and that Earle then said: “Don’t mind the inconsiderate dyke table that just walked in.”

She claimed she did not know a comedy show was going on and denied Earle’s claim that the table was heckling him, saying: “It’s just not the way I conduct myself in public”.

According to Earle’s version of events: “These two lovely guests came in from the patio and sat right in front of the stage and started making out, like tongue and tonsil wrestling. I didn’t care if it was two guys, two girls, a horse and buggy, you know? Whatever. I don’t hate anyone based on their sexual orientation or whatever. But I do hate hecklers, and sometimes I get a little vehement.”

He claimed the women ignored his “request” to be quiet and told him Fuck you asshole! and Shut up! He said they insinuated he had singled them out for being lesbians: “So then I broke into it. I said You’re fat and ugly. You’re not even lesbian. No guy will fuck ya! That’s why you’re with each other. Somebody put a cunt in her mouth and shut her the fuck up. Which one of you wears the strap-on dildo? Because silicone cunt crazy is still cunt crazy in my book.”

He said people then started booing him and walking out. When he walked by Ms Pardy’s table and stopped to look at her, she threw a glass of water in his face.

Another comic then performed on stage after which, as MC, Earle went back to the microphone and briefly closed the evening. Lorna Pardy’s version is that, when he returned to the stage, he “continued to mock and humiliate” her.

Earle – clearly not a wise man at this point – says he then walked by Ms Pardy’s table again, at which point she allegedly threw more water at him. He reportedly claimed she “got up and faced him, puffing her chest out.”

‘I lost it for two seconds,” Earle admitted afterwards. “This is the part that I publicly apologize for.”

He snatched her sunglasses off her head and broke them in half, he admitted, “like a little baby dumb.”

In court, Lorna Pardy’s lawyer’s version of this was: “When Ms Pardy later went to the washroom to compose herself, Mr. Earle cornered her on her return, continuing to physically intimidate and verbally abuse her. He grabbed and broke her sunglasses, and dropped them to the floor at her feet.”

Ms Pardy works as an airport weather technician and said she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress as a result of the evening. She complained to British Columbia’s Human Rights Tribunal. Her lawyers invoked Section 8 of British Columbia’s Human Rights Code, which forbids anyone to “discriminate against a person or class of persons regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public.”

Earle was quoted as saying: “They pissed me off so I said some rude things. Does that mean I should go to court? If you’re an asshole, should you be arrested?”

He could not afford the airfare to attend the court and the presiding judge ruled he could not participate by any electronic means. Earle’s lawyer sought a Supreme Court ruling that the tribunal had no authority to rule on the case and the Supreme Court directed that the tribunal should not proceed “until the jurisdictional issue had been resolved”. But the tribunal went ahead anyway.

In May 2011, it ruled in favour of Lorna Pardy, awarded her $15,000 to be paid by Earle for “injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect” and $7,500 to be paid by Zesty’s club owner Salam Ishmail. It also reportedly banned Earle from performing in British Columbia.

Tribunal member Murray Geiger-Adams said Earle repeated vulgar language in public and attacked Pardy’s “identity and dignity as a woman and a lesbian”. Earle’s lawyer argued that his client’s speech should be protected under “freedom of expression”.

The court ruling was:

“Mr Earle submitted that it was his job to engage disruptive patrons to quiet them. However, the Tribunal found no evidence of any rational connection between this and attacking a patron’s sex or sexual orientation on or off the stage… There were measures available to accomplish the purpose of ending any disruption of the show well short of attacking Ms Pardy’s sex and sexual orientation.

“None of the witnesses testified that Mr. Earle was telling ‘jokes’ and there was no evidence that he was using comedy to expose the stereotypes of others.

‘The discrimination had a significant physical and psychological effect on Ms Pardy, which was supported by unchallenged medical evidence. This was aggravated and prolonged by public statements made by Mr. Earle about her, which falsely portrayed her as a drunken heckler and instigator.”

Guy Earle’s reaction was: “I’m shaking over here… What a bloody joke. $15,000 for being misquoted and I NEVER thought I would have to correct/defend my words in a free country!”

In July this year, Earle’s lawyer brought the case back to British Columbia’s Supreme Court for “judicial review” on the basis (among other things) that Earle had been accused of breaking Section 8 of the Human Rights Code, which forbids anyone to “discriminate against a person or class of persons regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public,” but that a comedian’s performance is not the “provision of a service” but an artistic expression.

There has been no decision yet.

(Guy Earle contacted me and corrected some mis-quotes in this blog HERE.)

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Return from North Korea to China, land of individual freedom & Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves’ new movie “Man of Tai Chi” shooting in Beijing

During the night, on the long train trip back to Beijing from Pyongyang, I mention that, since an accident in 1991 in which I was hit by a truck, I have not been able to read books. I can write books, but I cannot read them.

Our English travel agent guide tells me he was recently mugged in the street in Bristol. “They hit me on the back of the head with a baseball bat,” he told me. And roughed me up a bit at the front, too. I have had difficulty reading – and slight speech problems – since then. It’s very frightening when it affects your mind.”

I develop a slight toothache.

As soon as we crossed the bridge over the Yalu River which divides North Korea from China, two smiling strangers (everyone was smiling) separately observed to me how strange it was to feel that entering China was returning to ‘freedom’.

A woman I did not know said to me, smiling: “It’s like a weight has been lifted.”

Somewhere between a station signposted Tanggu and Tianjin city, I noticed there were satellite TV dishes on some of the old, single-storey peasant homes. Not Party buildings, not notable buildings, not in any way rich homes. And occasional clusters of buildings had solar panels on their roofs; possibly communal buildings; impossible to tell.

Then, for mile after mile after mile, a gigantic new elevated road/train track was being built. Make that plural. Over mile upon mile upon continuous mile, new highways, new tower blocks were being built. It is as if the country is building a new city like Milton Keynes every week or a new London Docklands nationwide every few days.

So very different to when I was last here in 1984, 1985 and 1986.

The irony with China is that, in the Cultural Revolution – the Chinese call it the ‘Ten Year Chaos’ – of 1966-1976, the Red Guards wanted to destroy the past, to start from the ‘now’ and build a new society. That now has happened. The irony is that it is not the future they envisaged; it is the future they feared.

Would this giant leap forward have been possible in a country without the unstoppable anti-democratic will and irresistible totalitarian power to push it through? Who knows? But it is an interesting thought/dilemma.

As we arrived at Beijing railway station, someone told me they had seen on BBC World TV that the North Korean satellite launched last week had exploded shortly after launch. Back in North Korea, of course, they will ‘know’ that Satellite 3 was a glorious success and will ‘know’ the giant leaps which their country makes continue to be the envy of the world.

If you live in a self-contained village isolated from all outside knowledge – or, indeed, in The Village in The Prisoner TV series – you know only what you know. There are no known unknowns, only unknown unknowns.

Living standards and social/technological advances are comparative. The North Koreans can see for themselves – they ‘know’ – that their society has advanced in leaps and bounds – from the electricity pylons of the 1980s to – now – mobile telephones and three satellites in space. And they have seen the tributes brought to their leaders by the admiring leaders of other countries.

China – with 7.5% growth per year – is living the advance a stagnant North Korea falsely believes it is making.

In the afternoon, in Beijing, I go into a Bank of China branch. It is in a suburb of the city. The door guard and staff look shocked that a Westerner has wandered into their branch.

I get a ticket to go to the cashier. A recorded message on the loudspeaker tells me when my number – Number 46 – is ready to be dealt with and which cashier to go to. The recorded message is in Chinese… then in English. Like the road signs, the metro signs and many shop signs. It is not just for my benefit. Each customer announcement is made in Chinese… then English.

At the cashier’s desk, facing me, is a little electronic device with three buttons marked in Chinese and in English. By pressing the appropriate button, unseen by the cashier, I can say if her service has been Satisfactory or Average or Dissatisfied.

Welcome to capitalism. Welcome to China 2012.

About half an hour later, near the Novotel and the New World Centre shopping complex, I pass a woman with one eye, begging. Welcome to capitalism. Welcome to China 2012.

Close to a nearby metro entrance, an old grey-haired woman is lying flat on her back, immobile, on the pavement. Beside her, by her head, a middle-aged man, possibly her son, kneels, rocking backwards and forwards, bobbing his head on the pavement, as if in silent Buddhist prayer. A large sheet of paper with Chinese lettering explains their situation. Passers-by drop Yuan notes into a box.

Welcome to China 2012.

At dusk, walking back to my own hotel from a metro station on one of Beijing’s busy, modern ring roads – a 45 minute walk – I see some movie trucks belonging to the China Film Group – dressing rooms, a director’s trailer, equipment vans.

Further along, down a side street, they are shooting second unit photography for a movie called Man of Tai Chi – actor Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut – in an area of grey, old-style, single-storey streets just a 15 second walk off the busy ring road.

In Pyongyang, the North Korean film studios had clearly been doing nothing. But they wanted – they liked – to pretend they have a thriving film industry.

In China, they do.

But they also block Facebook, Twitter and, indeed, this very blog you are reading.

Welcome to China 2012.


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Beijing – Waltzing in the headlights of a fast-coming future in the new Tokyo

The future is bright and dazzling in Beijing - the new Tokyo.

I am sitting in my hotel room on the 13th (top) floor of a 4-star hotel in Beijing.

I was in Beijing in 1984, 1985 and 1986.

My memory of Beijing in 1984 is of almost everyone wearing green or blue Mao suits – a uniformity of dull colours. The next year, some lighter pastel colours were creeping in and I stumbled on a fashion shoot by the lake in Beihai Park where the glamorous model was wearing a mini skirt.

Back then, I remember a rather dusty, occasionally misty city with Dickensian factory chimneys, streets swamped with tsunamis of bicycles and building sites each with hundreds of workers instead of machines. This was not – and is not – a country with a labour shortage.

Today, on the 45-60 minute drive to the city centre from the giant fuck-off-and-die airport (built for the 2008 Olympics), we passed through a new city with giant, often very well-designed buildings and loads of cars on busy four and five lane carriageways.

Then we hit Tiananmen Square with its new monument to distract and disguise where the demonstrators were in 1989. It now also has an apparently permanent visible police presence plus parked police cars and vans.

Once past Tiananmen Square, we hit the more crowded, narrow streets with jumbled shops and narrow, greyish, busy alleyways I remembered.

The TV in my hotel seems to cater mostly for Chinese, not English-speaking, businessmen – a not insignificant point. And the BBC World news channel is reporting that Sony has announced a whacking $6 billion loss.

The Japanese are on their way out.

The Chinese are on their way up.

More surprisingly, the BBC still has a TV reporter inside North Korea. Why has this man not been thrown out of the country? He is still telling and showing the truth about what life is like there. He was invited in to show the glorious start to the celebrations of the 100th birthday of the Great Leader Kim Il-sung – and to report on the ‘fact’ that the North Koreans’ upcoming rocket launch is to put a satellite into space, not to test an ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Fat chance. He is making it clear North Korea is a fantasy land of literally incredible facades.

The North Koreans have said their rocket will be launched “by 16th April”. As the late Kim Il-sung’s 100th birthday is on the 15th April, guessing which day it will actually be launched does not seem like, err, rocket science.

Back on the TV in Beijing, BBC World is reporting that someone called (as far as I can figure phonetically) Nee-lu-yang, disabled and on crutches after being beaten up by the police, has been sentenced to three years imprisonment – and her husband to two years – for “provoking trouble” by campaigning against the eviction of people from their homes to make way for new building developments by the Chinese authorities.

In China, rapid modernisation comes at a price which would be unacceptably high in the UK.

I took a walk out tonight and, over the course of an hour, I passed nine people walking their pet dogs. In the mid 1980s, a friend of mine went into Canton free market a meat-eater and came out a vegetarian: “It was the live dogs and cats and owls that did it,” she told me. “All in small cages, ready for eating. It was the owls that really got to me, with their big eyes staring out at me.”

Now dogs are kept by some as pets. The sign of an increasingly moneyed society and probably the sign of an increasingly something else society which I can’t put my finger on.

People were still doing that deep, throaty Chinese spitting in the street back in 1984.

Things have advanced at an amazing rate.

And yet… And yet…

There is still that protester disabled and on crutches after being beaten up by the police, sentenced to three years imprisonment for “provoking trouble”.

Some might argue that 2012 in China is more like Nineteen Eighty-Four than it was in 1984. But with a glittering veneer.

On my walk tonight, in a darkened open space about 20 feet from one of Beijing’s busy ring roads, I heard the faint sound of traditional Chinese music and saw about thirty people of various ages dancing in slow motion. Some were waltzing; some appeared to be practising slow-motion line-dancing.

Perhaps this is a new 2012 version of tai-chi.

In 1968, Country Joe and The Fish recorded a song called Waltzing in the Moonlight. In Beijing, they are waltzing in the headlights of a fast-coming future.

China is the new Japan… with Japan, like Atlantis, cut down to size by the Gods with a national catastrophe.

It only took water to overwhelm Atlantis.

Japan, a more advanced civilisation, had visited on it by the Gods the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. Japan has stumbled if not yet been humbled..

The road signs in Beijing – and many local shop signs – are in both Chinese and English. The government is preparing for and has already entered an international future.

And yet… And yet…

The girl in this 4-star hotel’s Business Centre not only does not speak English, she does not know how to print off text from the computer she supervises onto the printer sitting beside it.

And the BBC World channel reports that the wife of prominent Chinese politician Bo Xilai has been arrested on suspicion of killing a British businessman last year. No motive is given; the businessman seems to have been a friend of the anti-corruption Mr Bo and his wife; and the Chinese leadership is changing this year.

Now, presumably, Mr Bo has been knocked out of the running.

Don’t mess with the Chinese.


Here is the sound of Country Joe and The Fish Waltzing in the Moonlight

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