AFTAH’s LaBarbera Searched and Detained Again by Canadian Customs Agents – Russian Documentary ‘Sodom’ Confiscated as Potential ‘Hate Propaganda’
LaBarbera allowed provisional entry into Canada for ‘Mischief’ trial Oct. 30 stemming from April protest at public university
REGINA, Saskatchewan, Canada– Customs agents detained this writer (AFTAH president Peter LaBarbera) and did an intense search of my phone, laptop and belongings–as I arrived at Calgary International Airport late last night on the first leg of a trip to Regina, Saskatchewan for my trial on “mischief” charges October 30.
The mischief charges were filed against me and Canadian pro-family activist Bill Whatcott after Whatcott, and then me, refused on free speech grounds to abandon a peaceful protest April 12 against abortion and sodomy at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, a public university. [See AFTAH article HERE and LifeSiteNews article HERE on how I was almost refused entry into Canada on the basis of AFTAH’s alleged “hate.”]
The Calgary Border Services agents confiscated a DVD copy of a new Russian documentary called “Sodom” as potential “hate propaganda” in violation of Canadian law banning material or people who could potentially “incite hate” based on “sexual orientation.”
Ironically, “Sodom”–which I have yet to watch–is available and easily accessible in Canada (and worldwide) on YouTube. Whatcott told me that he had already shared the documentary with his network of Canadian supporters across the country. “Sodom” features an interview with American pro-family leader Scott Lively of Defend the Family International. Lively, who received AFTAH’s American Truth-Teller Award on 2011, is currently running for governor as an independent in Massachusetts.
If the Russian film is deemed “hate propaganda” by the government’s “Prohibited Importation Unit” in Ottawa, it will be destroyed, two border agents informed me. If “Sodom” does not meet that designation, it will be mailed back to my home in Illinois.
Either way, the seizure of the film would make it impossible for me to view and/or present it to others in Canada–were it not easily accessible to everybody with a web connection on YouTube. Such is the folly of state censorship in an Internet age.
Customs hearing today
Despite my two-and-a-half hour detainment in Calgary, agents ordered me to attend another hearing today (Tuesday) with Immigration officials in Regina at 11:00 A.M.–for “further examination” on my “admissibility” into Canada. Nevertheless, Border Services agents told me that I would be able to attend my “Mischief” trial in Regina on Thursday and that I am “innocent until proven guilty” under Canadian law.
A border agent named Shane Paul (I called him “Paul” because that was on his uniform and I presumed that was his first name) asked me questions about a small speaking engagement I was to have with Whatcott and others this (Tuesday) evening. I was unsure of the location of the meeting, as the venue has been changed three times already–because skittish Canadians pulled out from hosting the event fearing leftist protests. You can read about one cancellation in the Regina Leader-Post HERE (Note: not included in the story is Whatcott’s assertion that the prospective host, Greg Kulak, was not telling the truth when he claimed NOT to know the nature of the event.)
As an American, let me say that it is remarkable how far official political correctness – enforced and encouraged by sometimes fanatical left-wing activists and abetted by an anti-conservative media – has not only shut down conservative speech in Canada but succeeded in punishing people who run afoul of various liberal ideologies—not limited to pro-homosexualism. For example, the Canadian owners of a conservative website, “Free Dominion” shut it down after 13 years of operation in January after losing a defamation lawsuit to “human rights” legal activist Richard Warman. They were fined a total of $107,000 and ordered not to print anything negative about the leftist Warman—effectively censoring them as a public forum [See LifeSite article HERE].
In the two years that I have worked closely with Bill Whatcott, I have seen the extraordinary harassment and soft (and hard) tyranny he has had to endure in his quest to get out biblical truth and facts about homosexuality and abortion. Whatcott, who distributes tens of thousands of fliers door-to-door every year, was found guilty of Canada’s “Hate Propaganda” law by Canada’s highest court. Earlier this year, he was denied service by a computer shop in Weybourn because the owner did not like Bill’s views; Whatcott sued under the “human rights” laws and won, and–in a demonstration of Christian grace–did not push for a big fine but asked for a mere $200 from the man who denied him service.
Recently, Whatcott tried to submit a simple ad for his event tonight (where I am to speak) to the Regina Leader-Post newspaper. The ad’s innocuous headline was “Bringing the Light of Christ to Our Culture”–but that did not matter; it was refused anyway. He could have another “human rights” victory in store if he sues the liberal paper for anti-religious discrimination. (Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms ostensibly protects religious freedom.) But even if the ad had run, Whatcott would have been chased out of the venue for the event.
With such relentless leftist pressure led by a few fanatics like Warman, it is only the rare, brave soul like Whatcott who fights on for Truth in Canada, while so many others fall away in fear. (Note that in the Chicago area, AFTAH, too, has been chased out of venues after the leftist activists with the Gay Liberation Network wielded their spurious “hate group” accusation against us.)
Searching my phone, laptop, books and papers–again
Anyway, I cooperated fully with the Border Services “investigation” of me at the Calgary airport, as I did in April at the Regina International Airport. Agent Paul and another Agent with the last name of Meehan went through—as in April—my:
- Books (including Dr. Michael Brown’s “Can You Be Gay and Christian?”; his book, “Something Queer Happened to America”; Robert Reilly’s “Making Gay OK”; and Frank Turek’s “Correct, Not Politically Corrrect: How Same-Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone”)
- Tracts: I brought a bunch of ex-“gay” Stephen Bennett’s tracet “I WAS ‘Gay’”; and
When Shane asked me about Westboro Baptist Church (with its “God Hates Fags” message), I told him that AFTAH has always condemned Westboro, as has every other pro-family group I have worked with.
At one point in the search, I asked Shane if he had children. He asked me as if offended: “Why do you ask that?” and then said, “I’m gay.” I told him I met nothing by it and that I ask a lot of people that question. I told him my five children are a tremendous blessing and he said he may want to adopt children some day.
Once Shane’s gayness was out in the open, it was almost easier to have a conversation about my work and the larger homosexual issue. I told him that disagreement with homosexuality does not equal “hate,” despite the best efforts of LGBT activists to conflate the two. He and Meehan laughed when I told them that I couldn’t be a “homophobe” because if I truly “feared” homosexuals, I could not do AFTAH’s work, which requires me to be around many homosexuals.
Despite the awkwardness of the situation, It helped this time, compared to my April airport search in Regina, that Shane and Meehan, the two fellows handling my entry at Calgary, were actually interested in my explanation of what I and AFTAH do. They appreciated my defense of civility in the “gay” debate and I think Shane was satisfied that I didn’t hate him or homosexuals in general. I thanked him for his professionalism.
Shane asked me if anything i would present on Wednesday could be construed as “hateful.” I told him no, but explained that they’re is a lively debate going on in the culture about what constitutes “hate” on this question. I explained, and he agreed, that we could have a civil discussion about homosexuality and yet agree to disagree.
Paul discovered in my belongings the Human Right Campaign report, “Exporting Hate,” with its highly unflattering graphics of me and Michael Brown, and Mat Staver. (Others are targeted in the “Hate” booklet, but I only taken copies of the pages with the shadowy images of myself, Brown and Staver.)
He asked me about this quotation accurately attributed to me by the HRC “Export of Hate” hit-piece:
“Kids would ‘be better off in a single-parent household [compared to a homosexual-led household]…because you’re not modeling homosexual behavior. When you have two men raising a young child, that child grows up learning, basically, dysfunction and a sexual perversion as normality.” (Alan Colmes Show, 1/7/14)
Shane seemed especially concerned about my use of the word “perversion” and suggested in so many words that there is no religious (biblical) case for that word. I explained that historically the word has been used in association with homosexuality and that we also make the case that Natural Law opposes homosexuality.
Stay tuned for updates. Please pray for my meeting with Immigration officials today, and for our meeting (if it happens) this evening—and lastly, for Bill’s and my trial Thursday in Regina on the ridiculous “Mischief” charge leveled against us for defending life and sexual morality at—of all places—a public university.
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