author: spencer shuba | contributor
By definition, freedom of speech is the right to express any opinion without censorship or restraint. Without it, our world would reflect the dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. We would not even be allowed to create our own works of art in any form of media; of course, there are those who use this freedom as a shield to spread hate through slander and deception.
On Oct. 18, the University of Regina got itself a visit by Bill Whatcott, a controversial activist who uses his freedom of speech to spread distasteful messages about homosexuals. He claims to have spent the entire day handing out “gospel condoms,” spreading the “good word” of the Lord to any passersby. What I witnessed, on the other hand, was him sitting down for almost every full hour, hoping in vain that someone would stop. It’s a shame he didn’t receive any positive high-fives and conversations, unlike the group of protestors, myself included. Instead of using a cheap cardboard display, which would only enhance the impression of being homeless, we chose to stand around his table with signs, which promoted love to others, no matter their sexual orientation. There were moments where Whatcott would attempt to engage with the protestors, but they did not falter. One example I remember was when he attempted to take a photo of a female protestor and her sign to post it on his Facebook page, but knowing full well to not engage with him, she simply turned away. At the end of the day, he simply packed up and he was gone.
I find it odd how the University of Regina would allow a person like Bill Whatcott the ability to spread hate through the guise of “beliefs” and “freedom of speech.” Even the University’s own president, Vianne Timmons, does not support his views of hatred and fear mongering, yet they allow it because of his right of free speech. If one were to look closely at his display, he uses very graphic images as “evidence” of homosexuality. One particular image that stood out was a decapitated head of a newborn fetus in a pair of rubber gloves. The obvious question would be why such an image would have anything to do with homosexuality and why he would have such an image saved.
If he can make such claims toward the LGBTQ+ community, then I can do the same toward him, since I have equal freedom of speech rights that he has. For example, if one were to look through his Twitter account, they would find that he is a Donald Trump supporter. Using my freedom of speech, I can make the claim that he supported Trump’s words of grabbing women by their vaginas. I also can look at his online forum and bear witness to his posts to nobody but himself and his wife. With that discovery, I have the right to claim that his website is an echo chamber, only finding personal satisfaction of hearing himself talk, since his life offers none to begin with. Of course, these examples could be viewed as lies, but if he can spread his messages of hate through deception, why can’t I do the same in this piece?
In conclusion, Bill Whatcott has the right to free speech, but so do I. The LGBTQ+ community has the right to spread love to combat his hate, and there is nothing he can do to stop it. Anyone has the same freedom of speech as he does. As an activist, he is already inviting others to join in his vain crusade against homosexuality, to censor their rights. As a man who always uses freedom of speech to gain the right to say what he wants, it’s hypocritical for him to try and push the agenda of making the lives of the LGBTQ+ community illegal in Canada.