If the Court of Appeal judgment in the Mike Ward case is allowed to stand, discrimination will mean everything and nothing, and law as a guide to human conduct will have failed us. The courts must be more discriminating in their judgment when they deal with cases of alleged discrimination.
That said, there’s a larger context into which the Mike Ward case fits: society will no longer tolerate bullying. The Me Too movement appears to have had a coattail effect beyond the legitimate concern of sexual coercion by people in positions of power. In the world of classical music, the cloak of superstardom hasn’t shielded musical conductors from being held accountable for misconduct towards orchestra members. With the firings of Don Cherry, Mike Babcock and Bill Peters, the professional hockey world has set the most recent example.
The Mike Ward judgment may or may not be legally sound, but it, too, is an expression of intolerance towards bullying. No amount of comedic license changes the fact that Mike Ward’s Jeremy Gabriel act was an act of bullying. People who found it funny need to get their act together.