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Lindsay Shepherd is a teaching assistant for a communications course at Wilfrid Laurier, a Canadian university whose motto translates to “Truth conquers all.” She showed her class a debate that involved Jordan Peterson and others regarding gendered pronouns that had previously aired on Canadian television. She presented the video without comment, although she later revealed that she disagrees with Prof. Peterson’s position on the issue. However, a “gendered violence” complaint from her class was lodged, triggering a review, and Ms. Shepherd was reprimanded.
Her transgression? According to her supervising professor, Prof. Rambukkana, Ms. Shepherd failed to take sides prior to showing the videotape, and that “created a toxic climate for some of the students.” Rambukkana also stated, “This is like neutrally playing a speech by Hitler,” representing just one of several references to Nazi Germany made by himself and other authority figures at the meeting.
We know all this because Ms. Shepherd recorded the meeting in which she was reprimanded, and it became public.
It seems the Canadians have passed a law making it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their gender identity. This is being used, at least by some, as justification to deny speech to individuals they decree in violation of their interpretation of the law. A university official at the meeting insisted that by introducing students to Peterson’s opinions, which were (still) fit for the public airwaves, and (still) far more common than not, Ms. Shepherd caused harm to transgendered students by “bringing their identity as invalid.” When Ms. Shepherd insisted she “remained very neutral,” her supervisor retorted, “that’s kind of the problem.” “In a university all perspectives are valid,” insisted Ms. Shepherd. “That’s not necessarily true, Lindsay,” replied Rambukkana.
The president of the university has apologized to Ms. Shepherd, although Ms. Shepherd herself questions whether that would have occurred had she not recorded her disciplinary session. According to this Heterodox Academy article, Prof. Rambukkana “went beyond the minimum necessary” and gave Ms. Shepherd “the honor of actually listening to her arguments. He questioned whether it is appropriate for him to teach from a partisan social justice perspective, or whether it might be better for professors to be less heavy-handed and more open to ‘diversity of thought.'”
An epiphany? My instinct is that this is merely a tactical retreat. Professor Bret Weinstein, late of Evergreen State College, the site of an eruption of social justice thuggery earlier this year, might very well agree. In an unrelated interview, he said: “The number of classes in a university that are immune to this extremely broken way of thinking is ever smaller. And I think we can even see from here the day in which it will be no classes that are immune because every class is going to be subject to some set of rules that is built around this very naive notion of privilege and white supremacy and all of that. So that day is coming.”
Professor Weinstein, a leftist himself, pointed to the heart of the issue. “Each of these definitions can’t be pinned down. You can’t figure out what they mean be equity. On the other hand, if you start asking questions about equity you’re going to run afoul of a booby-trap that’s gonna have you portrayed as a white supremacist,” he said.
In the future, everyone will be Hitler, when and where convenient.