Heckle putdown winds up in court

Human rights case over 'dyke' comment

Court proceedings have begun for a comedian accused of breaching a heckler’s human rights for branding her a ‘dyke’.

Lorna Pardy took action against Canadian funnyman Guy Earle, pictured, after an aggressive stand-off two years ago, in which the comic allegedly made explicit suggestions about her sexual practices because he thought she was being disruptive.

But Earle’s lawyer says a comedian putting down a heckler is different from someone ‘slinging hamburgers at McDonald’s’, so shouldn’t be subject to the same rules.

The lawyer, James Millar, walked out of the British Columbia human rights tribunal on its first day yesterday in protest at the way it was being conducted. His move could force the case to go up to the province’s supreme court.

Pardy claims Earle’s comments about her sexual orientation were discriminatory under a section of local human rights legislation covering service in businesses.

She took action after a set-to with Earle at an open mic night at Zesty's restaurant in Vancouver three years ago. The restaurant’s owner is also named in the action as an employer responsible for Earle, even though he wasn’t paid.

‘Shocked and embarrassed’ Pardy, 32, has been suffering post-traumatic stress following the incident, according to her lawyer.

The row started when the meteorological technician, her girlfriend and another woman moved into the room where the comedy was being performed midway through the show.

Earle is said to have considered them disruptive and told the audience: ‘Don't mind the inconsiderate dyke table that just walked in’

Pardy denies that her group were heckling, and said that things escalated when her group told Earle he was being ignorant. He allegedly leaned over Pardy in a threatening manner, so she threw a glass of water in his face.

She said: ‘I was humiliated... I felt like I’d been assaulted.’

Passions ran high throughout the night, according to the Canadian Press, with another glass of water being thrown in Earle’s face, and the comic whipping the sunglasses from Pardy’s head and breaking them.

Published: 30 Mar 2010

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