Freedom of Speech vs. Hate Speech?

There is this comedian in Quebec, by the name of Mike Ward, who is contesting a fine levied against him by a human rights commission.  The whole case on the surface appears to be about freedom of speech, but I think it has much more to do with the hatred many of us disabled face in our day to day lives.

Read the newspaper’s update on the comedian’s appeal, especially what the lawyer is saying, then, read my “letter to the editor” that appears after the article link. What do you think?

My letter:

People say the cruelest and stupidest things to me and my disabled friends. Just one example is: “If I were disabled like you, I’d kill myself”.

This is very similar to Mr. Ward’s “jokes” about Jeremy.  In private, hate speech like this is just plain wrong, but sadly, not illegal.  But when hate speech is used as part of a paid public performance, it should never be “free”, especially when directed at children.

As well, it is absolutely ridiculous for any lawyer to claim that Jeremy became fair game for public humiliation because he “put his handicap into play”.   What does that even mean, to put one’s handicap into play?  It’s not like we have a choice to tuck it away in our pockets.  (Now, wouldn’t that be nice?)

It could not get any sillier than if they said:  “The handicapped kid deserved to be publicly humiliated, because he sang while he was handicapped”.  With that logic, everyone who gets robbed is at fault because they own stuff.

Like a bullies in a playground Mr. Ward and his lawyer are trying to send a cruel message:  “You can be a disabled child, or you can have talent, but never both at the same time.  Know your place you uppity crippled kids, or we will publicly humiliate you.”

Jeremy was a minor when he dared to show his talents, dared to be better, and he’s the one accused of using his disability to achieve success?

The fact is: It is Mr. Ward who put Jeremy’s disability “into play” for a cheap laugh, and to make a buck.  Another fact is:  Mike’s “jokes” about Jeremy had a lot more to do with hatred than humor, and I pray the appeal judge agrees.

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One Response to Freedom of Speech vs. Hate Speech?

  1. Bonnie says:

    Hear hear! This whole thing is ridiculous. “Freedom of speech” does not equal “the freedom to be cruel to those we perceive as being beneath us”. Mike Ward and Julius Grey should be ashamed of themselves.

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