Did OUTSpoken go too far?
The majority of the ads depicted unfavourable phrases commonly used against the LGBTQ community in large, emboldened writing, with smaller text under explaining the #eradicatehate campaign.
“We’re sorry, said Erin Anderson, one of the executives of OUTSpoken.
“We never meant to offend anyone.” While the campaign was set to generate dialogue and increase awareness about the harmful terms used everyday around campus, the campaign had a major setback when the wrong words were emphasized.
Words like “faggot,” “queer,” and “retard” were the main point of attention, and a message of eliminating hate speech was in small print under the negative phrases.
The posters aimed to promote OUTSpoken as a group on campus as well as work to positively change the environment at SAIT.
For the passerby who simply glances over, the connotation of the message was taken negatively rather than the message that the campaign had attempted to create.
The #eradicatehate campaign did hit a primary goal in creating a dialogue.
“I mean, it wasn’t the best way to go about promoting human rights, but clearly you’re asking, and I’m talking, so it made a point,” said Eric Gerchikov, a University of Lethbridge alumni who first came across the threads on Facebook.
Gerchikov was an active member of the Pride Centre at the University of Lethbridge.
“People will remember this [campaign], who cares that it was a SAIT-specific campaign, I saw it, others did too,” said Gerchikov.
As a result to the backlash, OUTSpoken extended an open invitation to create a positive trajectory for the campaign.
The campaign was not a failure. The main objective was to generate a discussion about the reality of hate speech in LGBTQ communities.
In a controversial way, OUTSpoken has achieved that goal.
Critics were doubtful of the positive versus negative outcomes of the campaign, and while OUTSpoken apologized repeatedly, the posters did serve as a catalyst to open an uncensored dialogue.
“We can’t do anything more than apologize,” said Anderson.
Negative comments weren’t the only ones seen; some went to social media praising OUTSpoken for confronting an issue in a very direct way.
The main critics were most prominently seen on Facebook. The conversation stretched from the organized OUTSpoken page, to personal pages, and finally expanded to twitter.
The comments didn’t stay within the confines of SAIT. Many of the commentators on the posts were from other provinces and had no relation to SAIT other than a mutual friend.
“Maybe the next campaign shouldn’t go for shock value—or maybe just not as much,” said Gerchikov.
The bulk of the conversation was held over Facebook, which is accessible to anyone with a profile the vast majority of SAIT students.
Before McNeil spoke up, the organizers hadn’t seen any negative backlash from the campaign released.
“It’s crazy. Say anything about them,” said Anderson.
“And now they’re all ripped down.”