A comedian went to the Canadian Supreme Court over a joke he made ten years ago.
It was in 2010 when Mike Ward from Canada made jokes about 13-year-old Jeremy Gabriel, who has Treacher Collins syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by deformities of the cheekbones, ears, eyes, and chin.
In a segment in which he made comments about many celebrities, Ward reportedly mocked Gabriel’s physical appearance and called him ‘ugly,’ according to the Montreal Gazette.
The singer said he was bullied because of the remarks and he even tried to commit suicide.
In an interview with Montreal Gazette, Gabriel said: “This person, and his persistence, caused a lot of pain and consequences.
“When you’re 13 years old, just figuring out your own identity, just going into high school, and you are receiving that amount of bullying, that amount of negative attention, you don’t think it’s possible to go on.”
In 2016, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the comedian’s routines included discrimination against the teen.
Ward was ordered to pay CA$35,000 to Gabriel and CA$7,000 to the singer’s mother. The comedian was not happy with the decision and called the ruling ‘stupid.’
Ward took the matter to the Quebec Court of Appeals, which also ruled in favor of Gabriel.
After losing the appeal, Ward said in a statement: “Comedy is not a crime. In a ‘free’ country, it shouldn’t be up to a judge to decide what constitutes a joke on stage.”
Gabriel welcomed the comedian’s refusal to drop the matter. “I think it’s good news,” the told the newspaper in 2019.
“I salute the courage of Mr. Ward for sticking to his principles, but it’s important that this debate moves to a larger stage.
“At the Supreme Court level, it will involve all Canadians, and it will help people to have a better understanding of these types of cases.”
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