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.
A MESSAGE TO OUR READERS The coronavirus pandemic is a moment of reckoning for our community. We’re all hurting. It’s no different at Prairie Dog, where COVID-19 has wiped out advertisements for events, businesses and restaurants as Regina and Saskatchewan hunker down in quarantine. As an ad-supported newspaper already struggling in a destabilized media landscape, this is devastating. We’re hoping you, our loyal readers, can help fill in the gap so Prairie Dog can not only continue to exist but even expand our coverage — both in print and online. Please consider donating, either one-time or, even better, on a monthly basis.
We believe Prairie Dog‘s unique voice is needed, now more than ever. For 27 years, this newspaper has been a critical part of Regina’s social, cultural and democratic infrastructure. Don’t let us fade away. There’s only one Prairie Dog. If it’s destroyed, it’s never coming back.