On Tuesday, comedian Mike Ward launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to raise $93,000 as he prepares to continue his legal battle against child singer, Jérémy Gabriel.
The Human Rights Tribunal reportedly declared last week that Ward must pay $35,000 to Gabriel for making jokes about his disabilities (he was born with head, facial, ear and skull deformities, which includes deafness) and his singing abilities from 2010-2013. Ward must also pay an additional $7,000 to Gabriel’s mother, Sylvie Gabriel. Ward declared on the GoFundMe page that he refuse to pay the mother and son.
“I’m a Canadian comedian that got sued by my government for making fun of a local celebrity that sang for the Pope. I was found guilty by the Quebec Human Rights Commission, I refused to pay. Some are portraying me as a free speech hero, others as a coward that made fun of a disabled child. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.”
Ward also admitted while his joke was obviously in bad taste, he should still be able to tell jokes, no matter how offensive they are:
“Hurt feelings shouldn’t dictate what a comedian can or can not do on stage.”
Ward also revealed he has already spent $93,000 to make sure he didn’t pay the $42,000. He stated on his Facebook page he refuses to pay not only for himself but also for the young comedians of tomorrow and adding:
“Your feelings should not have an influence on the writing of a comedian.”
So far, Ward’s campaign has raised over $25,000 from 1,000 supporters. The funds will go towards legal bills, and he noted that anything extra would go in a fund to help the next comedian this kind of situation happens to.
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