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LaBarbera arrested in Canada

Timothy Kincaid

April 15th, 2014


Much to Peter LaBarbera’s disappointment, Canada allowed him to enter the country. It didn’t stop those who are part of the anti-gay industry to rant about how The Peter was languishing in jail, despairing but resilient, but his brief detainment for review just didn’t have quite the impact he was hoping for.

However, the police in Regina, Saskatchewan, obliged The Peter in arresting him and finally awarding him the martyrs crown that he so desperately sought. (CBC)

U.S. anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera and a Saskatchewan man were arrested on the University of Regina campus on Monday and will be charged with mischief, police said.

At one point, with news cameras rolling, an unidentified university official approached Whatcott, 46, and LaBarbera, 51, and asked them to leave. During that encounter, Whatcott said he had attempted to get permission to set up an information table and, since he was denied, proceeded to set up a table anyway.

“I’m not leaving,” Whatcott told the official, “You guys are intolerant and should be ashamed of yourselves for shutting down our message without even considering it.”

A short while later, several Regina police officers arrived and Whatcott and LaBarbera were handcuffed and taken off campus.

I’m not sure what other option the police had; clearly The Peter and Whatcott were violating an legal request to leave. However, I think the university would have been wiser to let him stand there with his smutty pictures and his vile positions and ignore him.

And the school could probably have done without the following statement, which appears to have been made without the slightest registration of the inherent irony.

“We are a diverse campus, we are a welcoming campus,” Tom Chase, one of the vice presidents of the university said. “We celebrate that diversity and our staff felt that the material and some of the things they had with them simply contravened that policy and we asked them to leave.”

The school is certainly within its rights to deny a public spectacle. But it’s an unfortunate decision when an institution of learning chooses to define “diversity” in such a way as to limit viewpoint or restrict perspective.

LaBarbera will now be questioned by border officials and is scheduled to appear in court on mischief charges on May 26.

UPDATE:

It appears that the t shirt The Peter is wearing says:

NO to HATE CRIMES Against CHRISTIANS who Disagree with HOMOSEXUALITY

and has the picture of Mary Stachowicz, who was murdered in 2002 by a deranged young gay man whom she had been harassing. Because martyrdom.

Comments

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Priya Lynn
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Yes, diversity means you exclude people who would unjustly exclude others. If Peter and his partner in crime hadn’t sought to oppress gays they’d have been welcome at the U of R.

Its not at all true that tolerant people need to tolerate intolerance. No one is obligated to tolerate wrongdoers.

Priya Lynn
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Allowing someone to come into your living room and condemn innocent gays destroys diversity.

Timothy Kincaid
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

“No one is obligated to tolerate wrongdoers.”

I believe I’ve read those exact words – or something very similar – this week. They may have said “sin” instead of “wrongdoers”. I think it was either Laurie Higgins or Bill Donohue.

Priya Lynn
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

That’s a false equivalence. Anything that does not harm other is objectively moral. That which harms others (oppressing gays and denying them equal rights) is objectively immoral.

There aren’t two equally valid positions on this.

Priya Lynn
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

I’ll put my logic of what defines morality up against theirs any day in a debate. No one can make a sound case that I’m wrong and the bigots are right.

Nathaniel
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

PL, I believe the point was not that you don’t stand on higher moral ground, but that the very rules you use to condemn our opponents can and have been used in the past to persecute us. I’ve got to admit, when I first heard of this story, I was delighted. I had hoped that, in trying to prove his moral superiority, LaBarbera had violated some objectively agreeable law. I’m a little disappointed he didn’t, but only for the sake of my own schadenfreude. For people like LaBarbera, being ignored is far worse punishment than being thrown in jail (I’m reminded of Queen Mab in one of those miniseries about Merlin and King Arthur). If some aspect of LaBarbera’s presentation, like his misinformation, were the reason for the rejection by the school, I personally might have found that more acceptable. But, it is a little disconcerting to see “tolerance” given as the reason for the rejection and ultimate arrest. Tolerance doesn’t mean we can’t refute a person when they are wrong, but it does mean we have to be willing to share the same space.

Rob
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

They asked for permission to set up a table, it was denied, therefore they were trspassing. I’m wondering Timothy, in your logic, when did trespassing become a viewpoint or a perspective?

Paul Douglas
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Its a peculiarly american value that the most egregious extremists should have the same rights to expound their venom at the public table as everybody else. Must be dreadful to live in Germany or Canada where you cannot get away with that stuff.

Ben in Oakland
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Timothy, though I agree with you in theory– and would have loved to see an outrageous drag Queen ruining Petie’s and his male friend’s act with laughter– I think there is something else to consider.

Who wants THIS kind of trash on their property? Why should they have to tolerate it? Can anyone just go on a college campus and start soliciting money or promoting political agendas? does the administration have nothing to say about it? Would we have to tolerate antisemetic or antichrisitan or anti woman bigots from just going to the college campus of their choice and setting up shop?

Ben
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

So first you think you know better than the Canadian government, despite knowing nothing more than LaBarbara’s tweets, and now you know better than entire university and their policies, plus the local police.

Do you have any background whatsoever to disagree with these committee lead policies designed to protect the disenfranchised besides your conservative gut reaction apposing anything you perceive as curtailing the rights of white men to do whatever they feel like short of literal murder?

Priya Lynn
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Nathaniel said “PL, I believe the point was not that you don’t stand on higher moral ground, but that the very rules you use to condemn our opponents can and have been used in the past to persecute us”.

No, that’s not true. I advocate using logic and reason to decide public policy. They advocate using the writings of bronze age bigots pretending to be a god to determine public policy.

Your country had this debate a long time ago: “Should people be required to follow a particular religion?”.

The answer was no, religion is a personal choice and you can follow whatever one you want but you have no right to make others live according to your religious dictates. If Peter thinks gayness and same sex marriage are bad things he is perfectly within his rights never to have a same sex romantic relationship or to refuse to enter into a same sex marriage. He does not have the right to tell anyone else they can’t.

This logic has been upheld in your country time and time again over the centuries – reason, secular reason decides laws, not religion. That’s the reason gay rights has won court case after court case after court case. When there is a rational, equal debate our side has a huge advantage.

If Peter wants to debate this he’s welcome to do so on his blog, or this blog, or my blog. He doesn’t have the right to condemn innocent gays at a university that has a policy of diversity to create a safe space for a long persecuted minority. I’ve attempted to debate Peter on a variety of forums and his initial willingness to do so disappeared when it fairly quickly became apparent to him he couldn’t make a logical case for his position.

He has all the freedom he needs to promote his viewpoint at a place where people can either choose to engage him or ignore him.

StraightGrandmother
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

We don’t HAVE to tolerate Hatred. And make space in our schools for Haters.

Let him go stand on a public streetcorner, city sidewalk.

Nathaniel
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

PL, this is a problem I encounter often with atheist friends. They claim to have logic and reason on their side, and dismiss any evidence that lies outside of what they can observe. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it is a sort of blindness. In particular, it blinds one to the fact that their opponent is doing the exact same thing. LaBarbera thinks he has reason and logic on his side, he thinks he has the higher moral ground, and he thinks that being silenced by his opponents supports those two assumptions. Even a person whose most basic premise is religious in nature can support their conclusions with secular reasoning, and they will see no difference between themselves and those starting with a secularly-based premise. Indeed all premises ultimately must be based on certain, unprovable assumptions that behave very much like religious belief (no matter how much to the contrary the holder protests). You say we have the right to shut LaBarbera down wherever we want since his effort is to take away rights. But he has convinced himself that we are out to take away his rights. Indeed, he has convinced himself that he must either deny us our rights, or he will forfeit his own. We know that to be false, but situations like this only reinforce that conclusion. And by supporting shutting him down, we prove that his conclusion is not so false. Do I want to go to my university’s public square and see images of dead fetuses, or hear “preachers” declare that girls in pants and boys with earrings are going to hell? No. But I also don’t want to hear of my university denying atheist or LGBT groups the right to declare their beliefs in this public forum. And I sincerely believe that unless my opponents can say what they want, when and where they want*, there is no principle, then, that will protect my right to do the same, no matter how righteous my cause.

*subject to immediate concerns of public safety.

Steve
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Another peculiar American insanity. Thinking that everyone is entitled to their own reality, that everything is up for debate and that everyone can make up their own truth. In reality, there is such a thing as objective truth about some things.

Christopher
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Universities have the tricky caveat of also being home to young people, who you could argue deserve a space that is free of speech *explicitly* condemning them as people.

So yeah, it would have been wise in a number of ways to let The Peter do his thing, but the campus has to consider its resident students.

Priya Lynn
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Nathaniel said “Indeed all premises ultimately must be based on certain, unprovable assumptions that behave very much like religious belief (no matter how much to the contrary the holder protests).”.

Nonsense. There is no evidence to support the existance of a god and the premises christianity places for the existence of its god are an impossibility. I can’t say for certain that there isn’t some sort of god, but I can say for certain that a just, loving god that has done the things the bible claims cannot exist anymore than a square circle exists. My premises are based on facts, evidence, and science, religious premises are based on the insane idea that believing despite a lack of evidence is some sort of virtue. There are certain standards for what is and what is not evidence and if you can’t convince your atheist friends you’ve got some its likely because you don’t – what’s in your mind doesn’t count as evidence. Present me with solid evidence that a god exists and I’ll be happy to say I was wrong.

Nahaniel said “You say we have the right to shut LaBarbera down wherever we want since his effort is to take away rights”.

I never said any such thing. If Peter wants to try to make the case that he is harmed by gays being allowed to marry he can petition the courts for redress and I’ll fully support his right to do so. Then we’ll have a formal debate based on logic, reason, and evidence and see who wins.

Nathaniel said “Do I want to go to my university’s public square and see images of dead fetuses, or hear “preachers” declare that girls in pants and boys with earrings are going to hell? No. But I also don’t want to hear of my university denying atheist or LGBT groups the right to declare their beliefs in this public forum.”.

Peter has a right to promote his viewpoints in his own forum, he does not have a right to have a university provide him with a forum to promote his viewpoints. It’d be a different story if the university told him he couldn’t be a student there because his Americans for “Truth” website is bigoted but that’s not what happened here.

If you don’t want to see atheists and LGBT people be denied a forum at a university I suggest you contact Liberty University right now and start campaigning to get them to allow those voices.

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

I’ll take that American “insanity” called the First Amendment any day over the speech codes, hate speech laws etc. that infects other less enlightened countries than the USA.

When it comes to freedom of expression the US Constitution has it exactly right.

Priya Lynn
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Nathaniel said “PL, this is a problem I encounter often with atheist friends. They claim to have logic and reason on their side, and dismiss any evidence that lies outside of what they can observe. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it is a sort of blindness. In particular, it blinds one to the fact that their opponent is doing the exact same thing. LaBarbera thinks he has reason and logic on his side”.

No, he obviously doesn’t think he has logic and reason on his side. If he did he wouldn’t initially engage me in debate on the subject and then just as we start getting into serious discussion run away and avoid debate like the plague. He knows deep down inside he can’t make a logical case to support his position and that’s why he avoids substantive debate on the topic.

Priya Lynn
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

“I’ll take that American “insanity” called the First Amendment any day over the speech codes, hate speech laws etc. that infects other less enlightened countries than the USA. “.

Lol, enlightened! This about a country that compared with Canada has a lower life expectance, higher infant mortality, higher crime rate, lower education rate, higher disparity between the rich and poor, higher levels of racism, and gays and lesbians denied equal rights. Yeah, you’re real “enlightened” all right, no doubt your “greatness” is due to allowing people to call for gays to be put to death.

Priya Lynn
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Well, I’m out of here. Nathaniel, I invite you to email me at priya dot lynn at sasktel dot net and show me this evidence outside of what I can observe that proves your god exists.

Jim Burroway
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

It may seem fanatical Americans’ worship of free speech. Some historical perspective may help. At one time, it was conservatives and the establishment status quo that sought to sqwuash free speech, but Berkeley students changed that in 1964.

http://www.calisphere.universityofcalifornia.edu/themed_collections/subtopic6b.html

http://www.uic.edu/orgs/cwluherstory/jofreeman/sixtiesprotest/berkeley.htm

That opened the gates to the rest of the 1960s and beyond. Ironic that it began because unpopular ideas were being disseminated at a card table on university property.

Steve
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Enlightened? Hahahahaha. Aside from the extremely dysfunctional society as PL pointed out (and there are more metrics), this is a country that has a far higher religiosity than any other western country and a far higher rate of religious extremism in general. The religious points of view that are mainstream in many parts of the US are considered fringe in other countries. The US also the country where half the people believe the Earth is 6000 years old and where there is still a controversy about teaching evolution in school. Or having birth control covered by health insurance.

Btw, I wasn’t referring to the American free speech fetish as insanity here, but the idea that everyone is entitled to their own reality.

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Unless you believe freedom of expression means the fundamental right to express views that others consider vile and utterly reprehensible then all you really believe is a state-enforced orthodoxy that allows only the most anodyne ideas and views to be articulated.

There are no thought crimes in the US, unlike Canada and Europe where a politically incorrect twitter post can get you jailed or fined.

The solution to arguments and speech you do not like is better arguments and better speech not silencing individuals with the power of state, the cowardly bullying approach.

Long live the First Amendment!

I have no idea where your other non-sequiters came from.

Ryan
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

It is not “ironic” to refuse to let LaBarbera set up a table due to the University’s policies supporting diversity. It is the proper enforcement of those policies. Tolerating intolerance=intolerance.
I really don’t understand what’s happening to this site. First Rob goes after a university for refusing to give Robert Lopez money to speak and then Tim equates banning gay people from speaking on campus with banning people who want to ban gay people from speaking at all.
Are we as a society really not supposed to have any standards of decency or behavior at all? Literally anyone–ANYONE–who wants to can go to a college campus and start publicly expressing their point of view, no matter how vile and shitty they are and the school has zero say in the matter? Are there no objective truths at all? Why? Why on earth would that be okay? Right about here is where I’d use the David Duke or Westboro Church or Nazi sympathizer analogy but I’m afraid of what the response would be.

Ben
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Eagerly looking forward to the link showing where someone in Canada was jailed and or fined for a tweet.

I won’t hold my breath while waiting because I value my health.

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

There you go:

http://christiannews.net/2012/10/23/canadian-high-court-upholds-pastors-right-to-oppose-homosexuality-criticizes-hate-crimes-law/

http://christiannews.net/2013/02/28/canadian-supreme-court-rules-biblical-speech-opposing-homosexual-behavior-is-a-hate-crime/

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/mar/27/student-jailed-fabrice-muamba-tweets

The Canadian hate speech codes have recently been reversed, prior to that point individuals could be fines for thought crimes, very uncivilized. Thankfully Canada has decided to bring itself closer to the US ideal.

Oh and by the way, before you go down that path I am an extremely devout and pious atheist… for me its Voltaire and all that.

Ryan
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

@john, This is not a first amendment issue. Sigh. Why do people consistently get this wrong?

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Are we as a society really not supposed to have any standards of decency or behavior at all? Literally anyone–ANYONE–who wants to can go to a college campus and start publicly expressing their point of view, no matter how vile and shitty they are and the school has zero say in the matter? Are there no objective truths at all? Why? Why on earth would that be okay? Right about here is where I’d use the David Duke or Westboro Church or Nazi sympathizer analogy but I’m afraid of what the response would be.

The protection afforded by the US Constitution and The Bill of Rights is not geographically contingent, so yes, in public institutions of higher learning US Federal law dictates viewpoint neutrality.

You have two choices when you encounter in public opinions and ideas you consider beyond the pale. Engage in dialog or just ignore. These are the civilized approaches. The uncivilized approach is to silence those articulating the ideas with the power of the state.

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

If others in that area were permitted to set up their little stands and LaBarber was prevented from doing the same. Then it is a freedom of expression issue.

If the above happened here on a public university campus it would be a civil rights violation.

But then Canada has no First Amendment…my point exactly.

Ryan
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

No, john. You’re wrong. A college campus is not required to allow anyone to trespass on their property and start spewing whatever they want, whenever they want. Not even in America. Hell, even in most other public places there are restrictions on when and where you can start speaking. Porno Pete hasn’t been “silenced” by anyone.

Lymis
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

I find myself skeptical that his choice of t-shirt doesn’t indicate that this entire incident was intentional on his part.

Timothy Kincaid
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

A publicly funded university in the US could restrict LaBarbara to certain times and places of presentation. They could not, as did this Canadian university, refuse him a permit to speak based on his religious or political viewpoints.

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Tim, a public university in the US could only restrict LaBarbara if they applied the same restrictions to everyone else and even then the restriction would have to pass constitutional muster. The university is required by Federal law to be viewpoint neutral.

NancyP
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

U.S. public universities can and do restrict “free speech” to particular venues, times, and qualified individuals (university students and staff vs. outsiders), and as a blanket matter, prohibit commercial speech unless authorized by the university. There is no free speech right for a non-university pamphleteer to sell his self-published books in the middle of a high-traffic campus path at lunchtime. If he wants to sell something, he needs to get in line at the U public safety office with the rest of the sales types requesting access. There is no free speech right for anyone to occupy a foot traffic choke point with a literature table and harangue the passersby. Universities can and do specify appropriate free speech areas suitable for table set-up. Universities can and do require that students and staff have privileged access over outsiders competing for table set-up space, gratis speaking venues (classrooms and meeting rooms), and other resources. Universities can and do have the right to move or shut down proven seriously disruptive “free speech” (involving fights specifically instigated by the speaker), in the interests of public safety.

All that said, the best bet would have been to cordon off Petey to a low-traffic area of campus and let him freeze his tush off while being ignored by busy students.

Richard Rush
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

As an American, I am troubled by the fanatically absolutist dogmatic approach to “freedom of speech” as though all aspects of it are out-of-bounds for discussion, debate, and questioning.

When does speech become harassment, bullying, persecution, a cause of suffering, threatening, and/or incitement of others to commit violence? In the U.S. it seems that little or none of those effects matter because freedom of speech is blindly sacrosanct.

Much, or perhaps most, of the negative effects result from how, when, and where speech is disseminated. And this is the area I find most troubling ~ the force-feeding of speech. For example, I’ve been to a number of gay events officially sanctioned on closed-off city streets where True Christians™ were force-feeding their anti-gay speech, not only with their signs, but also with bullhorns to disrupt the events. This should not be allowed. Period. Furthermore, when walking down a public street at anytime, I should not have to be subjected to street preachers or anyone else with bullhorns.

You may have the right to your speech, but others should have the right to reject the force-feeding of it.

Jim Burroway
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

As an American, I am troubled by the fanatically absolutist dogmatic approach to “freedom of speech” as though all aspects of it are out-of-bounds for discussion, debate, and questioning.

I have trouble understanding what you’re saying. The very nature of free speech is that no aspects are “out-of-bounds for discussion, debate, and questioning.” We do it all the time.

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

You are wrong Nancy, First of all any restrictions placed on freedom of expression in public areas on US institutions of higher learning must pass constitutional scrutiny. A US university or college is not free to re-write the Constitution and carte blanche restrict freedom of expression in those areas or restrict access to the general public.

Provided those restrictions pass constitutional muster then viewpoint neutrality is legally required. Restrictions based on religious or political viewpoints are forbidden. You need to check out the website for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). They litigate in this area and deal with petty little university administrators who think they can do an end run round US civil rights law to censor and bully individuals articulating viewpoints they disagree with.

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Richard, you have no right to not be offended by ideas and forms of expression you encounter in the public arena, none whatsoever.

Timothy Kincaid
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

John,

Tim, a public university in the US could only restrict LaBarbara if they applied the same restrictions to everyone else and even then the restriction would have to pass constitutional muster.

Yes. Thank you for the clarification.

Rob Tisinai
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

When does speech become harassment, bullying, persecution, a cause of suffering, threatening, and/or incitement of others to commit violence? In the U.S. it seems that little or none of those effects matter because freedom of speech is blindly sacrosanct.

Richard, that’s not accurate.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_free_speech_exceptions

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Tim, this is the first website I check when I fire up the pc with my first of two cups of coffee in the morning. Thanks to you and all the others who do the work here!

Atriokke
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Paul said, “Its a peculiarly american value that the most egregious extremists should have the same rights to expound their venom at the public table as everybody else. Must be dreadful to live in Germany or Canada where you cannot get away with that stuff.”

Yes must be, because the world only got better by allowing what was deemed the most egregious extremist to voice their venom. You see, the world hasn’t always shared your view. Pat yourself on the back as you realize that your position would NOT have gotten society further. Rather, it would’ve been the wall that prevented it. I prefer to idealize that ppl can talk their way into a better society rather than one that can somehow be silenced into one. Two ppl can ignore and debate ideas they don’t agree with, but in silence they can never agree or agree to disagree with ideas that they don’t already agree with.

Priya said, “He has all the freedom he needs to promote his viewpoint at a place where people can either choose to engage him or ignore him.”

And a public place in the university where he was going to set up a booth ppl can not choose to engage him or ignore him ? ( I dont think he was planning on using the tornado warning megaphones to broadcast his message). I can not think of a better place to voice differing opinions than a university which (imo) is the embodiment of the exchange of ideas. A place where questioning the unquestionable is a principle it upholds.

Steve said, “Another peculiar American insanity. Thinking that everyone is entitled to their own reality, that everything is up for debate and that everyone can make up their own truth. In reality, there is such a thing as objective truth about some things.”

As opposed to asserting that none or some realities can not be questioned because some arbitrary objective truths are deemed eternal? If everyone could uphold objective truths for what they are, the world would be a Utopia. However, in our reality we need to realize that others may never accept or want to share them, no matter how adamant or correct you are about them. Moreover, if a majority/leaders uphold objective truths that are really NOT objective truths, censorship will cause these mistaken truths to be eternal. Solidifying current realities into perpetual ones leaves no room to find flaws and thus, are unable to correct any.

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Rob, These exceptions to freedom of expression most often occur when they intersect and start to conflict with other rights, the classic example being shouting fire in a crowded theater. Here you are potentially putting others in danger and interfering with the theater owner’s rights to use his property as he wishes.

As far as the expression of ideas causing deep offense or anger in others is concerned the First Amendment’s response is “tough, yuck it up and move one” and that’s completely correct.

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

I cannot recommend this book too highly, just been re-issued and am reading it. An absolutely essential and impassioned defense of freedom of inquiry in all areas of human knowledge and a rebuttal to current and deeply troubling authoritarian trends in contemporary culture:

http://www.amazon.com/Kindly-Inquisitors-Attacks-Thought-Expanded-ebook/dp/B00FLO0F78/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397612333&sr=1-1&keywords=the+kindly+inquisitors

Rob
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

John said “… the classic example being shouting fire in a crowded theatre. Here you are potentially putting others in danger…”

So where is the line? Do LaBarbera’s lies not have the potential of putting others in danger? Is that the acid test?

You talk of the “civility” of engaging or ignoring, but have you noticed that the U.S, and indeed this very blog has become less and less civil?

Timothy Kincaid
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Thank you, John

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Rob, I think you commit the error of saying only those with “correct” opinions have a right to freedom of expression. But freedom of expression includes the right to be very, very wrong. Also if you start restricting opinion to officially sanctioned viewpoints then you almost inevitably end up with an orthodoxy, which of course if you want to be enforced results in a new inquisition since dissenters will need to be “re-educated” to the correct viewpoint.

As to civility, well no, I expect in any healthy exchange of ideas and outlooks there will be hurt feelings and passion, that is the hallmark of healthy debate and in any case only through frank criticism can there be any real progress. Actually I am intrinsically suspicious of uniformity of opinion, its just an echo chamber really. Actually one of the reasons I like this site as opposed to JMG.

Please read the above book, it really is required reading as far as I’m concerned. Plus Jonathon writes like a dream!

Rob Tisinai
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Rob, here’s a good place to start.
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Inciting,+Provocative,+or+Offensive+Speech

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

The reason I’m passionate over this issue is I’m an American by choice not by birth.

I was born in the UK, the birthplace of Milton, Locke, Hume, Mill, and Hitchens all staunch defenders of free inquiry and freedom of expression, concepts embodied in the US Constitution but regrettably in sad repair in Europe and Canada where old intolerances have simply been replaced by new ones.

Priya Lynn
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Paul said, “Its a peculiarly american value that the most egregious extremists should have the same rights to expound their venom at the public table as everybody else. Must be dreadful to live in Germany or Canada where you cannot get away with that stuff.”

Atrioke said “Yes must be, because the world only got better by allowing what was deemed the most egregious extremist to voice their venom. You see, the world hasn’t always shared your view. Pat yourself on the back as you realize that your position would NOT have gotten society further. Rather, it would’ve been the wall that prevented it. “.

Your assertion is proven false by the existance of all the great socities such as Canada that didn’t allow the most egregious extremest venom to voice their venom. Amongst western industrialized nations the U.S. is in worse shape on almost every measure of societal well being.

Americans love their romantic myth about unlimited free speech (which they don’t actually have anyway) for evil people being necessary to a good and free society, but it is just that, a myth.

Neil
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

This looks to me as if the whole purpose of La Barbera going to Canada was to stage an arrest. Even the right-to-life groups in Saskatchewan were puzzled about his involvement.

This reminds me of the case of David Parker. He arranged to go to a school to complain about some gay positive books in their library and when he was done he refused to leave as an act of civil disobedience. He too was arrested for trespassing.

As much as I understand these anti-vilification laws are well meaning, I don’t really see that they serve much purpose. The crowd in attendance at the university appeared to be there for the spectacle of watching a couple of fools demonstrate their idiocy. Surely anyone slightly amenable to their views would soon slink off in embarrassment with the thought that they might be associated with a La Barbera or Whatcott.

Like the Phelps clan, these buffoons do us a great service. Better to let their silly notions fizzle like a damp squib that give the the spark and oxygen of publicity their pseudo-martyrdom might create.

Rob
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Thanks for the link Rob, and john, well, good for you. I for one, am glad to be Canadian by birth and by choice.

Btw, in Canada, the whole LaBarbera story is getting…. crickets. Just another American wingnut.

I’m curious though john, on your take on the anti-gay law in Uganda. Isn’t that simply a consequence of the free speech exercised by the Evangelicals who travelled there? To quote you… “Tough, yuck it up and move on.”

Priya Lynn
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

The pro-bigot people keep telling us what a catastrophe it’ll be for society if a country doesn’t have the identical free speech laws to the United States and the most “disasturous” example of that they can come up with is an anti-gay bigot getting fined $7500 for promoting hatred against gays. Give me an actual example of that backfiring on good people or admit you’re crying wolf.

john
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Hey Rob don’t get me wrong met many great Canadians and would love to visit sometime, plus you can’t be all that bad, after all Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Rush are all Canadians! Plus some show which I used to watch on PBS when I first arrived here called Red and Green show, (memory may be defective here) thought it was hilarious.

Gotta turn in here as well, will answer later though on the Uganda issue!

Aaron Logan
April 15th, 2014 | LINK

Canada does not have a “1st amendment” to its constitution. However, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the first part of the Constitution and section 2 reads:
“2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.”

Any law must pass the Oakes test:
1. There must be a pressing and substantial objective
2. The means must be proportional
3.1. The means must be rationally connected to the objective
3.2. There must be minimal impairment of rights
3.3. There must be proportionality between the infringement and objective

Is this equivalent to “strict scrutiny”? in any event, there are no lesser levels of scrutiny for constitionality in Canada, like the American “rational basis”.

So far, hate speech laws have passed strict constituional muster.
See: http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/12876/1/document.do

john not mccain
April 16th, 2014 | LINK

I’m sure Kincaid would have no problem if I spray painted “die, faggot, die” on the side of his car. After all, my free speech rights are more important than his property rights.

Jim Burroway
April 16th, 2014 | LINK

I see the strawmen are out all over the place.

Richard Rush
April 16th, 2014 | LINK

The relentless propagation of extreme hate speech is vigorously protected, but damage to property in the course of that speech is vigorously prosecuted ~ because the deep human emotional and physical suffering caused by that speech is not only trivial compared to property damage, but most importantly, is trivial compared to the anguish suffered by bigots if they are denied unfettered freedom-of-speech.

PS: It would be interesting to do a poll of True Christian™ bigots, the great exploiters of free speech rights, to see how many of them would champion the installation of blasphemy laws.

Lynnette Carey
April 16th, 2014 | LINK

Being of the “lesbian” persuasion in this commentary, I thought perhaps I would put in two cents worth of an opinion.
Diverse: to be different from one another; composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities.
What exactly does that mean? It means that we all have different thought patterns, different messages, different lives.
If we ask others to address us with grace, dignity, respect, whatever it is, then we need to show the same.
How many of us have been called “immoral?”
How many of us have been put on the chopping block because of the message we give?
Perhaps, just perhaps, we need to allow the naysayers their opinion as well.
Why do I think that way? Because then we are truly diverse. Then we become truly accepting.
The guy hasn’t killed anyone really, except perhaps his spirit, but is that up to us to decide? Are we not as “radical” in our thinking? Just asking.

Priya Lynn
April 16th, 2014 | LINK

Lynette, you can accept the naysayers into your diverse group without allowing them to condemn and “other” gays and lesbians.

David Malcolm
April 16th, 2014 | LINK

Here’s the thing. Canadians are less dumb than Americans. We can say that we support diversity without thinking that it means mindlessly encouraging idiocy.

Until your country can figure out that you don’t have the right to bare arms against schools full of Children, “ya’ll” should stop criticizing the nuanced nature of Canadian society.

Atriokke
April 16th, 2014 | LINK

Priya said, “Your assertion is proven false by the existance of all the great socities such as Canada that didn’t allow the most egregious extremest venom to voice their venom.”

It would be false if you can somehow prove it to be false in the past, seeing as how the assertion is rooted in the past.

The underlying argument is that freedom of speech is a means to be able to get from egregious venom to The New Normal. I have yet to understand what alternative means you are proposing to do this WITHOUT free speech.

Phrasing it another way: If you are wrong, how do you get to right if when it is wrong you can never get to right BECAUSE you eliminated the means to get to it? Seems like censorship attempts to eternally enshrine what is right at the cost of potentially eternally enshrining wrong (that is deemed right at the time). The shrine erected is an echo chamber that, barring free speech from entering, can no longer get the wrong to right.

Closer to home, I’m certain that gay rights weren’t always acceptable in Canada, did gay rights become acceptable by censoring every pro-gay speech when it was repulsive?

Steve
April 16th, 2014 | LINK

Newsflash: Canada does have free speech

Contrary to the American myopia, free speech doesn’t have to be absolute in order to protect people and help create a healthy society.

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