Anti-gay bigot extraordinaire Peter LaBarbera is making a bid for martyrdom, getting himself arrested at the University of Regina in Canada for handing out anti-gay literature. He had previously been briefly detained while crossing the border, but was allowed to enter to give a lecture.
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.
LaBarbera, who is with a group called Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, and Bill Whatcott were distributing anti-gay literature on the campus.
Before their arrival, the university issued a news release saying the pair would be monitored to ensure they did not engage in any activity that would promote hatred.
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.
They knew they were going to be arrested and I think he did it specifically for that purpose. There’s a lot of money to be made on the Christian rubber chicken circuit as a martyr. Still, I have a serious problem with the arrest. I am on record as being strongly against hate speech laws and I have just as much of a problem with the Canadian government using vague criminal charges like “mischief” as I am American law enforcement arrested people for “disorderly conduct” — whatever the hell either of those things might be.
I am a passionate activist for LGBT equality but I’m also a passionate advocate for freedom of speech and I see no contradiction between those things. And I’m not alone. Christopher Hitchens, whose birthday would have been last week, gave what I think may be his finest speech in a debate over Canada’s hate speech laws.