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Canada, verdict against the wave: “Free satire even against the disabled”

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Can satire and disability live together without limit? Some time ago Paralympic champion Pepe Vio responded with a pledge. “It is normal for me to take my hand off and give it to others. Irony helps me live better. The theme of the inability to satirical key was held in the world of cartoonists, comedians and cinema, think of the successful French comedian Quasi Amisi. The Canadian Supreme Court has also established itself on the line of tolerance, releasing a comedian who mocked a young singer who suffered from a serious physical illness on one of his shows. After nearly eleven years of legal battles, the sentence made headlines in the Canadian media. Mike Ward, a Quebec comedian since 2010, is known for his disrespectful and often hurtful style. During the show, Ward joked about his appearance and went so far as to say that he would happily drown him out. The situation was unpleasant, but the audience continued to laugh. Over the next few days Ward said, “I don’t know how far I can go with those lines. At one point I told myself, you go too far and they will stop laughing. But no, they did not.

Predictably Gabriel filed a lawsuit against the comedian, and the Quebec Human Rights Court ruled against Ward for pushing the boundaries of freedom of expression and discriminating on the basis of disability. The comedian appealed, but he lost before the appellate court, which awarded him $ 25,000 in damages. The court recognized the risk of freedom of speech in its judgment, but stressed that its “purpose is not to censor creativity or artists’ opinions” but that “comedians, like any citizen, are responsible for the consequences of their words when they exceed certain limits.” .

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Ward, dissatisfied with the verdict, appealed to the Supreme Court in 2019, arguing that it was a matter of freedom of speech, explaining that “the judge should not decide what is funny on stage.” On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled with a competitive sentence (5 to 4), but overturned earlier judgments. In short, satire and humor do not violate the Charter of Human Rights. The verdict said that Gabriel was targeted not because of his disability, but because of his reputation, and that some comments “although shameful and taste bad, did not incite the public to treat him as inhumane”. For the five judges, Pettit Jeremy may have felt an uncomfortable feeling during Ward’s show, but nothing more than that. Instead, the other four explained that the young singer had “suffered terrible public humiliation.” The debate is open.

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