Quebec’s Human Rights Tribunal has leveled a $35,000 fine against a comedian for a joke he told from 2010 through 2013.
A judge ruled Wednesday that Mike Ward must pay $35,000 for a joke he made about disabled singer Jeremy Gabriel, in addition to $7,000 in moral and punitive damages to Mr. Gabriel’s mother.
“I didn’t know there was a Human Rights Tribunal until I got sued,” Mr. Ward said Wednesday, Canada’s National Post reported. “One day the caller ID read: Human Rights Tribunal. When I answered the woman said, ‘Mr. Ward, we’re calling you about one of your jokes. We think you know the one.’ “
The target of Mr. Gabriel’s joke suffers from Treacher Collins Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the development of bones in the face. The comedian would tell crowds that when he went online to see what was wrong with the teenage singer — he wanted to know why the boy was not dead — it turned out he was just “ugly.”
“I fear for myself and all those with unpopular opinions in Canada. What is deemed hate speech and offensive is subjective, and when subjectivity is used to measure one’s guilt or innocence, it is the wolves voting the fate of sheep,” Mr. Ward said.
Mr. Gabriel, who once performed for Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, gave a press conference on Thursday.
“[Mr. Ward] used me to make jokes about my death. I would say everything in his jokes was discriminatory. I don’t think I have to give examples, I think you just have to watch the sketch to understand that.”