Earle, volunteer master of ceremonies at Zesty's restaurant's open-mic comedy night, called Pardy and her two friends "dykes," among other things, and made explicit suggestions about their sexual practices apparently because he thought they were being disruptive.
But the Ontario funny man's lawyer says Pardy's wounded feelings aside, Earle's expletive-laced attacks are outside the jurisdiction of British Columbia's Human Rights Commission and the commission proceedings that began Monday could have a chilling effect on artistic expression.
"It's absolutely a comedy show," said James Millar outside the hearing. "That's a smackdown of a heckler."
Millar withdrew from a the human rights tribunal on its first day. The tribunal is hearing Pardy's complaint that Earle's comments about the group's sexual orientation were discriminatory under a section of the B.C. Human Rights Code covering service in businesses.
Millar was protesting a decision by tribunal adjudicator Murray Geiger-Adams to hear evidence in the case before deciding whether the tribunal actually had jurisdiction over the issue.
That decision, Millar told Geiger-Adams, made the hearing essentially illegal.
"As a lawyer, I'm in a situation where I'm saying this tribunal is proceeding against the rule of law," Millar told the hearing.
Earle, who lives in Georgetown, Ont., and did not attend the hearing for financial and family reasons, agreed with Millar's decision, the lawyer said.
Millar's walkout sets the stage potentially for the case to go back to the B.C. Supreme Court, which quashed the commission's first bid to hold a full hearing, citing questionable jurisdiction.
Millar had been expecting to get the adjudicator's written reasons for proceeding without deciding on jurisdiction so he could go back to court.
But he didn't get them and without them, Millar said he's in limbo.
Millar contends Earle's rants against the women were protected under Section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms covering freedom of expression.
"Section 2(b) trumps anything in the B.C. Human Rights Code," he told the hearing.
While the commission is not empowered to enforce the charter, Millar said, it remains bound by it.
Extending the code's provisions on services to cover Earle's remarks could have wide implications for free expression, Millar told reporters later.
"They're saying essentially that artistic expression should follow the same rules as somebody slinging hamburgers at McDonald's or some other outlet," he said.
"This decision in terms of their jurisdiction would impact the Internet, impact Google, YouTube, performing arts, artistic expression of any kind."
The hearing went ahead without Millar and Earle - who'd earlier been denied permission to testify over the telephone.
Zesty's owner, Salam Ismail, remained but with his brother Sam, who's not a lawyer, speaking for him. Salam was named in the complaint because Pardy sees Earle as an employee, albeit unpaid, for whom Ismail was responsible.
Devyn Cousineau, Pardy's lawyer, told the hearing Pardy, a 32-year-old airport meteorological technician, has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress since the May 2007 incident.
Pardy testified she went to Zesty's to meet her then girlfriend and another woman for late-evening drinks on the restaurant's patio.
She was halfway through her second beer when the waitress said the patio was closing and they should go inside. Pardy said she had no idea a comedy show was about to start.
Pardy said the group was trying to sort out their drinks order with two waitresses when Earle started targeting them after her girlfriend had kissed her on the cheek.
"Don't mind the inconsiderate dyke table that just walked in," she recalled Earle saying.
Pardy denied Earle's claim the table was heckling the comedians, adding some came over later to apologize.
"It's just not the way I conduct myself in public," she said.
"I wasn't in any way challenging him. I was shocked and embarrassed. He was angry and condescending."
But things got worse, she said. Earle came off the stage after one of Pardy's friends told him he was being ignorant. He leaned over Pardy in what she felt was a threatening manner, so she threw a glass of water in his face.
Instead of shocking Earle into backing off as Pardy hoped, she said he continued with his graphic taunts at her.
"I was humiliated and I was shocked and embarrassed," she said. "I was shaking, sweating, my ears were ringing. I felt like I'd been assaulted."
Before the night was over, Pardy had a couple more encounters with Earle, resulting in a second glass of water in his face and Earle later whipping the sunglasses from her head and breaking them.
Pardy said she didn't leave because she'd hoped the restaurant's manager would do something.
In a telephone call and face-to-face meeting with Ismail the next day, Pardy said he played down the incident, blamed her for helping cause it and reneged on a promise to pay for her broken sunglasses.
The case is going ahead the week after U.S. conservative firebrand Ann Coulter cancelled an appearance at the University of Ottawa after being warned not to violate Canada's hate-speech laws. She's threatening to go the Canadian Human Rights Commission, claiming discrimination.
Canadian right-winger Ezra Levant has also criticized human rights tribunals over what he sees as attempts to muzzle his views.
I have no comment on the original case besides "ugh, disgusting" but the name of Earle's lawyer intrigued me. I've mentioned in comments before that I went to high school with a girl whose surname was Millar, and she was this incredibly obnoxious right-winger- believed in bootstraps and restricting abortion so that it wasn't available to "twelve-year-old sluts." It wouldn't surprise me if they were related.