Keeping An Anti-Gay Bigot Out Of Canada Doesn’t Violate Anyone’s Freedom Of Speech

I just got off the phone with Whitworth.

Earlier today I wrote a comment on one of his posts about how Peter LaBarbera had been allowed into the country — LaBarbera being of course the head of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality who’d originally been denied entry into Canada because immigration officials figured his talk at a Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association conference would incite hatred against homosexuals. And anyway, Steve had called because he figured my hastily drafted rant about the guy should graduate to full-on blog-post status.

As requested, I’m posting a slightly edited version of it below.

But before I do, in his call, Steve mentioned a few things about LaBarbera I hadn’t known and that made me rather angry: The dude not only openly praises from his home turf the murderous anti-gay laws in Uganda and the scandalous anti-gay laws in Russia, he’s also travelled to Jamaica to support efforts there to halt the repeal of that country’s repressive anti-gay laws.

So when LaBarbera comes a-knocking, it may not be just to engage in some kind of democratic debate, it’s probably part of his larger campaign to spread his malevolence around the globe and have it enshrined in law.

Anyway, here’s that blog comment about LaBarbera…

Even if immigration hadn’t changed their mind and he’d been kept out of the country, no one’s freedom of speech would have been infringed upon.

The religio-facists in Weyburn would still get to say whatever caustic, anti-gay crud they want. And LaBarbera would have been able to continue to spread hate and bile in his country and on the internet. Heck, he could’ve Skyped into the conference and said his piece that way.

In this case, the original decision wasn’t to silence anybody in Weyburn but rather to deny LaBarbera entry to Canada. And entering Canada is not something that every American is entitled to do.

Entry into our country isn’t a right unless you have a Canadian passport. It’s a courtesy we extend to people from other countries. And if the officials at immigration say, “You know, the toxic sludge you’re planning to spew out of your cake hole is probably going to run afoul of some legislation we have about hate speech and we really don’t want to deal with that, so here, have a return ticket,” that’s a call they’re empowered to make.

Still, had that decision stood, I think it would have been a mistake. And again, not because anyone’s freedom of speech had been interfered with — the state would have in no way used its powers improperly to silence its citizens — but rather because it would deprive people of a chance to be reminded that the hardliners in the anti-choice movement don’t just hate women and freedom, they also hate the entire LGBTQ community and anyone else who doesn’t conform to the rigid limits they’d like to see imposed upon sexual activity.

That said, if it hadn’t been for the work of Intolerance Free Weyburn and the national coverage they attracted by pushing for the ban on LaBarbera’s entry into Canada, that light would never have shone on those anti-choice cockroaches.

To sum up: what happened was some creeps in Weyburn invited a toxic hate monger into Canada (as is their right), an activist group in Weyburn pushed immigration to not allow him entry (as is their right), immigration in one airport agreed and sent him packing (as they’re empowered to do), some trolls on the internet and in the Conservative media screamed bloody murder (as is their right, as annoying as they may be), immigration changed its mind (as they’re empowered to do) and let the hate monger into the country so he could monger him some hate in Weyburn and meanwhile, the national media and the rest of the internet pointed and sneered (just as they should) at the intolerant bigots in Weyburn who want to pal around with the bastard.

So, in the end, everybody was doing their job and everything has worked out just fine.

Whitworth also mentioned something pretty wise during that phonecall that I hope he manages to work into an editorial in the next issue… I paraphrase: “The John Gormleys of the world and the right-wing internet trolls are more than happy to scream, ‘I may not agree with what you say but I’ll fight like hell to protect your right to say it,’ when it comes to defending some hate spewing toad who wants to see anyone they deem a sexual deviant jailed. But where are they when our Conservative-led government actively prevents scientists from speaking about their research?”

See, in the case of the muzzling of Canadian scientists, this is a government improperly using its power to silence Canadian citizens. That’s a violation of the freedom of speech. By definition. And yet the John Gormleys and the right-wing trolls seem powerfully unwilling to raise their banners and march about this issue.

Strange, that.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

29 thoughts on “Keeping An Anti-Gay Bigot Out Of Canada Doesn’t Violate Anyone’s Freedom Of Speech”

  1. I still believe in freedom of speech but I’m not one of the “Gormley’s of the World”.

    I’m curious to learn more facts about what this guy has actually said or done. But I’ll point out that you calling people “religio-fascists”,”toxic hate mongers” and “intolerant bigots” is kinda hate speech Lite(TM).

    You and Whitworth would be more compelling if you stuck to basic facts about the guy instead of trying to go toe to toe with him in a hating contest.

    It also seems apparent he’s gotten the better of us all through media manipulation. I’m pretty sure the border patrol doesn’t send out press releases, so that had to come from him. Being stopped and getting all the fun press means this guy’s mission is accomplished.

  2. “I’m curious to learn more facts about what this guy has actually said or done.”

    Good thing I included those three links to kickstart your research: one from Right Wing Watch, one from The Raw Story and one from the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

    “But I’ll point out that you calling people … is kinda hate speech Lite(TM). You and Whitworth would be more compelling if you stuck to basic facts…”

    Thanks for the input. And while I’m busy taking your comments very seriously you might want to look up “tone trolling.”

  3. When someone trains followers and lobbies countries to persecute minorities as LaBarbera has done, it’s accurate to call them toxic hatemongers, bigots and religio-fascists. It would be misleading to use toned-down language. We’ve thrown out some links but frankly the best link to get a sense of what we’re dealing with here is Labarbera’s own.

    He works to hurt people, Reader. He leads an organization that’s been classified as a hate group. He does very, very, very, very, very bad things.

  4. Just wanted to say thanks for introducing the “tone troll” to my vocabulary. I knew what that was, just never knew what it was called.

  5. Call me naïve or idealistic, but I strongly believe that the best response to shitty speech is better speech. LaBarbera is a simple dickhead, but if we can’t defeat dickheads like LaBarbera on level ground, what hope do we have against complex dickheads like Wall or Harper?

    As for Gormley, he’s no troll. I believe he’s wrong about just about everything, but he’s honestly wrong. His is no calculated position: I’ve heard him call out his audience for their knee-jerk racism.

    It’s wrong for Harper to silence government scientists, but it’s also wrong to try to silence dickheads like LaBarbera, Ezra Levant or Lord Monckton.

    I know Steve’s a bulldog — and I love him for it — but I’m honestly shocked that you, Paul, would suggest that denial of entrance to Canada for the politically inconvenient is a justifiable move.

  6. One of the top ironies of our day: Acting like you have no control over information, knowledge, or research. Recently I spent weeks wondering when my friend’s event was being held, then after 2 weeks waiting for the deadline to approach I realized, “For, I am not brain-damaged, perchance I shall Google,” and suddenly my curiosity was no more. Google doesn;t work for everything but for the basics, yes, it’s there.

  7. Of course, as usual, when someone like Reader questions your actions, resort to the good old argumentum ad hominem.

  8. Not sure if anyone is aware, but our brilliant premier, the Overlord, Mr. Brad Wall, has cordially invited – and is in fact, celebrating – this Anti-Gay speaker to the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan. Yes, that is correct. On OUR tax dollar, nonetheless!!! Can you believe this?????? Let the guy speak wherever he wants, but don’t put it on our fucking dime!!!!!!

    For anyone that wants to let your premier know what you think of this, be sure to attend U of R on Monday, April 14 between 1 and 4pm, and U of S on Tuesday, April 15 between 1 and 4pm. Disgusting.

  9. Chad, the Facebook page Province of Saskatchewan is in no way tied to the government. It says right on the page. It just a bunch of pompous dirtbags that are supporting another pompous dirtbag. We can only hope he is booed till he leaves. I can’t imagine there will be to many young ppl willing to put up with his B.S.

  10. Can’t argue with Barb on that.
    I had to listen to the Gormley Show podcast where he had both Chris Brooks of Interlerance Free Weyburn and Peter LaBarbera on separately. I believe Gormley kept the topic balanced. He agreed with Chris that you can’t expect prayer to change a gay or lesbian into someone they are not. I agree with that entirely.

    Peter focused more on the left’s attempts to prevent him from speaking. It doesn’t matter how he words it, they’ll do anything to to muzzle it. Gormley agreed with that part as long as it doesn’t lead to intolerance and racism.
    I partly agree with that, but I can’t accept Peter’s Christian beliefs that homosexuality is a sin. If that’s truly the case, then how do you prevent this type of sin in the first place. YOU CAN’T! DUH!

  11. MB: I’d like to point out that it is homosexual behaviour and the advocacy surrounding it that some Christians object to; ditto some Muslims, observant/Orthodox Jews, and Hindus. That’s different from having a homosexual orientation, but not acting on it. There is no sin in just being. I know that that’s a foreign concept for a lot of people, but it adds another dimension to the discussion.

    And, “intolerance” is what you were shooting for above.

  12. Barb – Yes…meant Intolerance. not Interlerance. Thanks.
    My grandparents on my mom’s side were strict Catholics and condoned homosexuality behaviour as per their beliefs. I loved them for being caring and loving grandparents, but I couldn’t accept their belief in that. They didn’t feel comfortable about discussing it. They always told me homosexuality was a sin. So, I never bothered differentiating the interpretation.

  13. Only bigots object to “homosexual behaviour”, Barb. We’re not talking about bad taste in music or politics. We’re talking about inborn biology, regardless of what idiots, assholes and liars say. Your “depends on whose ox is being gored” comment suggests to me that you don’t take the issue of LGBT violence very seriously. You’re better than that. Tread carefully.

  14. Brad: That is not your all-time sharpest comment. Everyone here is happy that the awful man was allowed into Canada. That said, hate speech is not free speech. LaBarbera is an activist working to harm LGBT people and criminalize LGBT relationships. That’s a fact. He is absolutely in the same category as a white supremacist or an Islamic extremist. Banning him would be legit. I’m glad they didn’t. It gave Saskatchewan the chance to prove it can handle this turd.

    And yes, I’m genuinely getting mad at some of you guys. Smarten up.

  15. When British MP and “leftlib”bon vivant” George Galloway was denied entry to Canada, it was supposedly for either being a terrorist or supporting terrorists by having a hand in providing sustenance to oppressed Palistinians who are being collectively punished by Israel for the crimes of a few of their number. At that time, Galloway issued statements, his supporters from within and outside Canada did a lot of complaining in much the same way as in the case of Labarbera, and yet the authorities refused to relent (as is their right). What we should be asking is who was it that changed their minds in this case? Did John Gormley make a call? Were the outraged religeo-fascists convincing? Or did a certain well known right wing reactionary in Ottawa pick up the hotline (as was likely done to the opposite effect re George Galloway) and an order issued to allow this teabagging republiCon entry to our country?

  16. MB, I think you confused “condoned” with “condemned”.

    Stephen: my ox remark was aimed at the double standard being applied to freedom of speech; I think that Brad expressed shock at an instance of it, above. READ carefully.

  17. CBC is reporting that LaBarbera and Bill Whatcott were arrested for trespassing at the University of Regina while trying to put up posters of a “graphic nature”.

  18. Stephen: my point is if this guy deserves all your hate, then tell us (through facts) why. I’m aware there’s a world of information out there, but I’m here to read which facts you are using to come to your position of hate. You have merely published your hate, without outlining your “why”.

    Paul: Why are you responding with name calling and verbal escalation? You used to be more reasonable and mature, so I’m hoping you’re just having a bad day or year, and that in time you’ll veer back to being the old Paul.

    All I said did was point out you used hate speech to denounce hate speech. Rather than just degrade you for it, I offered a constructive idea for next time, which was to stick to the facts and don’t undermine yourself by committing the behavior you seek to critique.

    Calling me a tone troll for that is inaccurate and unjustified.

  19. A meld of Brad & Barb opinions would seem the most pragmatic.

    When we talk of answering bad speech with better speech, my interpretation of “better speech” would be to show the value of tolerance by being, well, tolerant.

    Saying that a hater is a hateful hatemonger who hates hatefully seems fully hypocritical and just seems to up the ante on intolerance.

    That’s why in general my default is to allow anyone to say what they want, and if it’s dumb and hateful, they’ll make that more than apparent themselves, and they don’t need us piling in.

    Of course where I get uncomfortable is with advocacy. Someone says Jews run the world, my default would be to let them say it, and let the folly of what they are saying speak for itself. But when that person starts saying now let’s do something about it in the form of violence or oppression or marginalization, my bias towards tolerance starts to break down.

    I think that’s somewhat applicable to LaBarbera. Let him say he doesn’t like gay behavior or gay people, but don’t let him call for violence. I like being free to say I don’t like rednecks or Saskteaparty people, so how can I say LaBarbera shouldn’t be allowed to voice who he dislikes?

    Of course LaBarbera continues to manipulate us all. Today he apparently provoked the university by trespassing, and in being arrested, he gets another day of free assistance pushing his message to the forefront. I end up wondering if it would have been better overall if we just let him set up his table and sit there alone.

  20. Yeah, let him sit there with his disgusting pictures, psychologically damaging/threatening the university students who may have had to experience or have an abortion (rape, incest, unwanted , whatever the case). Real classy, Reader. There’s a reason there are graphic advisory’s on movies and video games, but if it’s real life one can display whatever disgusting signage they want to?! He wasn’t just trespassing, he was peddling hate propaganda on very large signs, and that is NOT OKAY. No one advocates for abortion, but we should all advocate a woman’s right to choose for herself, and when it comes down to it yeah an aborted fetus is just a parasitic group of cells…but no one needs brutalized images of that shoved in their face–not too mention we are all writing finals and do not need that distraction.

    Also, by letting him sit there it tells him we are willing to tolerate this “debate” , when it should have been dealt with years ago. We should have progressed by now, but following this and all the hateful, non-understanding comments (UofR confession page/ CBC) it is clear Saskatchewan has only stepped backwards, led carefully by Brad Wall. This fiasco and the Indians/ Cowboys aftermath make me ashamed to attend the UofR.

  21. Why are you ashamed in this particular instance? The university acted promptly to remove the unauthorised displays and the folks putting them up.

    “No one advocates for abortion” — manifestly untrue. Perhaps a cooler head might have led to a better choice of words.

    There’s nothing like the topic of freedom of expression for bringing out the totalitarian in people you’d think are liberally educated.

  22. Here’s the latest police information on the arrest of Whatcott and LaBarbera on mischief charges:

    Both men [have] agreed to their release conditions and the court date of May 26. But at the request of, and under the authority of, the Canadian Border Services Agency, 51 year-old Peter LaBARBERA was not released last night on an Officer Undertaking. He was instead held until this morning to be interviewed by CBSA. I am told there are some decisions to follow re: Mr. LaBARBERA’s status in this country, but I don’t have that information yet.

  23. Looks like CBSA was on the mark in their initial attempt at refusing entry to someone who deliberately came to Canada with an intention to break Canadian laws.

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