Before we get too far in, let me start by explaining that this story happened in the Canada. I don’t think something like this could happen in the US, because if it did, a ton of famous comics with constantly be in court or broke. However, just from the results, you can imagine what it would be like if this were a law in the US, and given the politically correct nature we currently endure, it might not be long before we find ourselves in a similar predicament.
So here’s the deal, courtesy of Tech Dirt:
Jérémy Gabriel, a singer with Treacher Collins syndrome, became famous in Quebec after he was flown to Rome to sing for the Pope in 2006, when he was 10 years old.
Ward became the subject of a complaint made to the Human Rights Tribunal in 2012 for making fun of Gabriel in his comedy show, Mike Ward’s eXpose.
The jokes go back to 2010, when Ward did a bit about “petit Jérémy.” The plaintiff argued the jokes gravely affected Gabriel’s dignity.
During the case, Gabriel’s lawyer Marie Dominique argued that there is a difference between making fun of a public figure and making fun of a child with a disability.
So what exactly did Ward say that was so “offensive” and “damaging”?
In Ward’s bit, he claimed he was happy Gabriel was “getting so much attention following the papal visit because he believed Gabriel had a terminal illness and was going to die.” Ward joked that he assumed the Pope visit was part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation but “now, five years later” and “he’s still not dead!”
“I defended him, like an idiot,” Ward joked in his routine, “and he won’t die!” Ward added that Gabriel probably wasn’t really dying but just ugly.
While these aren’t the most awful and offensive, or even funny, jokes they’re still just that — jokes.
It’s likely the court ruled in favor or Gabriel because of his age — he was 14 at the time of the routine — and it might also explain the massive amounts of money Ward is required to pay after losing the case.
Quebec’s Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that comedian Mike Ward must pay Jérémy Gabriel $35,000 for making jokes that violated his rights. Ward has been ordered to pay the former child singer with disabilities $25,000 in moral damages and $10,000 in punitive damages. He will also need to pay Sylvie Gabriel, Jérémy’s mother, a total of $5,000 for moral damages and $2,000 for punitive damages.
That’s no joke. According to reports, Ward is still telling the joke and planning to appeal.
This article originally appeared on BroBible.