Is Lindsay Shepherd still in trouble?

Most of you know know about Lindsay Shepherd, the graduate student at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) who was threatened by her advisor and her University for showing a short clip in class of Jordan Peterson’s views on using different pronouns for different genders.  Her university has apologized, as has her advisor, but it created a big kerfuffle in Canada, with most people being outraged that she was treated so poorly and harassed so mercilessly. Fortunately, the facts came out because Shepherd was savvy enough to tape her inquisition and to take it to the press. She’s since been all over the media, and that, of course, has simply emphasized that the Termite Feast has reached Wilfrid Laurier.

But is she off the hook now? Not according to columnist Christie Blatchford at the National Post, who talked to Howard Levitt, a Toronto employment attorney who’s defending Shepherd pro bono. According to Levitt—and this has been widely reportedthere was no formal complaint on record against Shepherd for her behavior in class. Here’s an interaction between Levitt and WLU’s lawyer, Rob Centa, hired by WLU to investigate the whole affair:

Levitt. . . wrote Rob Centa, the lawyer Laurier hired to conduct the investigation, last weekend, asking for the details of the complaint or complaints made against her.

In reply, Centa told him “I do not believe there is a document that contains a ‘complaint’ made about Ms. Shepherd nor is there anything I would describe as a formal complaint under any WLU policy.”

What’s disturbing, though, is that Centra claims his investigation is not about free speech or academic freedom, but about employment:

Centa also answered Levitt’s question about the terms of his mandate by saying it is an employment-related matter.

“It’s certainly ominous,” Levitt told the Post in a phone interview Wednesday. He said it sounds like the university is taking “a backend run” at her, and that he’s advising Shepherd not to meet Centa.

“I think it’s a trap,” Levitt said.

And Blatchford adds that Centa himself “says he has been ‘retained to an independent, confidential fact-finding exercise with respect to employment-related matters’ arising out of the Shepherd tutorials.”

If there wasn’t a complaint against Shepherd, then why did her inquisition take place? Blatchford adds this (“Robinson” is an associate professor at WLU and program coordinator of its “Human Rights and Human Diversity” program):

Yet with Centa saying there was no formal complaint, and the [WLU] policy saying only official complaints can generate an investigation, Robinson asks, “If there was an official complaint, why isn’t Lindsay being provided with a copy of it? And if there wasn’t … why is the university conducting an investigation of Lindsay’s tutorial at all?”

Levitt says he’s not before had a case quite like this. “This is the new age,” he said. “Political correctness is descending into all strata of society.”

Well, if someone’s employment is still under investigation, it better not be Shepherd’s—not after WLU and her advisor apologized for how she was treated. The “employment” should be that of the inquisitors: two professors as well as Adria Joel, WLU’s manager of Gendered Violence Prevention and Support.

I don’t think anybody should be fired over this, but the three inquisitors should be reprimanded and told how to act in cases like this. For if Lindsay Shepherd is fired as a teaching assistant, it would be to the eternal shame of Wilfrid Laurier University. And although it would make Shepherd even more of a free-speech hero, I think she’d prefer to keep her teaching job.

37 Comments

  1. Mark Reaume
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  2. Marc Aresteanu
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    So another 10 years of this before start realizing there’s a cabal the humanities and social sciences?… and they’re dominated by SJW/feminist/gender-activists/race-baiters who smear and lie at every turn knowing their comrades in arms will do anything to hide the truth, because they’re also terrified of being exposed as incompetent educators.

    I have personal experience in Canada (Montreal)at the uni level… it’s like this there too. Anyone who goes against the current of blaming white males for everything is essentially blacklisted and/or smeared.

    I’ll keep repeating myself. Modern western feminism needs to be called out for what it is… another MOTHERlode of bad ideas… until it becomes acceptable to oppose even the most mainstream positions, we are effectively going to be kowtowing to bullies.

    Sorry for being blunt, but I’ve been repeating myself for years watching this cancer get worse.

  3. Posted December 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think anybody should be fired over this, …

    I, for one, think that Rambukkana should not continue in academia (I believe he is not tenured?) simply because he doesn’t seem intellectually up to the job.

    His suggestion that 18-yr-olds do not have the intellectual capability to discuss and assess issues about pronouns for transgender people, unless led by the nose and instructed in the proper way of thinking, is just ridiculous.

    (Well, maybe he was speaking for himself, maybe *he* didn’t have such skills at age 18, but most 12-year-olds could sensibly discuss the topic.)

    • Marc Aresteanu
      Posted December 10, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      We’d have to essentially fire at least half of the people working in the humanities and the social sciences at this point. It’s been run over by ideologues with corrupted epistemologies.

      The Hard Sciences at least have reality to deal with, putting them back in line. The main factor putting people back in line in the other departments seems to be coherence with the progressive socialpolitical narrative, which isn’t coherent with reality as far as I can tell.

      The infection runs deep.

      • Posted December 10, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        How about nuking humanities departments from orbit? Or would that be an over-reaction?

        • Marc Aresteanu
          Posted December 10, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

          Honestly. I’ve been saying the whole thing needs to be restarted for a while. It’s a fucking joke, at least the departments at my uni I was in.

          Glad to see more people are catching up. If people are wondering the source of the regressive Left, it’s mostly this.

          I’m just bothered that I lost friends and a shit ton of opportunities for calling it out early. But here we are… tis life.

          As for what to actually do… I don’t know. I’ve relegated myself to researching and writing on my own time and working as a waiter on the side. I just wish people like Jerry or Sam Harris or even Jonathan Haidt would be as vocal as someone like Jordan Peterson on the subject. We need level-headed people (Jordan doesn’t fit the bill for me) calling this out. Of course, that’s up to them since it’s a huge risk, not to mention a guaranteed distraction from their real interests.

          But the problem is this war is a bottom-up one… it’s all numbers and social stigma. So, I urge people to simply take one for the team and be honest every now and then. Don’t simply bend over to simplistic moral platitudes when there’s an ideological push behind it (Motte & Bailey fallacy).

          So I’ll keep urging Jerry to recognize how bad it is and how much mainstream feminism is behind this growing trend. Don’t know if the university departments can actually be internally fixed… if anything it would be slow I think… so slow that it’s not worth even going if you actually care about truth and being a productive member of society.

          So who knows… but at the very least, the mainstream left away from academia needs to wake up and realize they’re being fed BS to confirm their biases and it’ll backfire in the long run (as we’re witnessing now).

        • S.K.Graham
          Posted December 10, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

          It’s the only way to be sure.

  4. Posted December 10, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m embarrassed to be a lefty over this. So sad.

    • Richard Sanderson
      Posted December 10, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Even more so when you see certain people on the left, including “Mister Serious Skeptic”, Thomas Smith, genuinely ask WHY Lindsay Shepherd recorded the interview…..

      Well, Thomas. If you are summoned to a meeting, and the email gives you an indication that SocJus people in positions of power are wanting a “chat” with you, getting your recorder ready is the first thing on any sensible person’s mind. Then again, this is the “skeptic” who thinks Evergreen was a hoax.

      Regressives don’t like the idea of their dogma being challenged. That is why they are playing dirty and trying to bully and intimidate Lindsay, and are getting the regressive media to carefully shape the narrative. Hence that Steve Paikin programme where regressive, Critical Theory, postmodernist professors claim THEY are the victims, and Lindsay is an oppressor, because, you know, “white privilege” or something.

      In summary, some on the left have about as much brain power and common sense as right wing racists.

      • Marc Aresteanu
        Posted December 10, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        I hope we can all agree people like Thomas Smith are detestable self-serving ideologues.

        Now all we need is take the same approach with women and minorities who engage in similar rhetoric. That, I fear… won’t happen… at least not by reasonable people who won’t descend into racist or sexist diatribes.

        I’m part of a heterodox group, and it seems like no self-described liberal has the balls to disagree with self-appointed representatives of victim groups who happen to share the same phenotype.

        We need to simply stop treating “I’m a black woman therefore I am an authority on all things concerning black women” as a viable argument.

        Given my experience… we are a long ways away from that.

        • Charles Sawicki
          Posted December 10, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

          Good point. Using your “identity” to suppress open discussion is simply racism .

  5. Craw
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I disagree about firing. If Rambukkana and Pimlot lied about a complaint as a pretext to interrogate her then they should be fired.i think they should be fired anyway tbh.

    • Richard Sanderson
      Posted December 10, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. When Lindsay queried about who complained, or how many, during the interview, her interrogators were rather vague…..

      I did have suspicions that no official complaint was put in, and rather, one of the professors involved caught wind of the lecture, or perhaps peered into the class at the moment Peterson was on the screen, and initiated proceedings from there.

      We’ll see. But I suspect Rambukkana and his fellow Marxists (they’re ALWAYS Marxists) will be protected by the faculty, and Lindsay will be forced out and blackballed. She is already under pressure.

    • Simon
      Posted December 10, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      If Rambukanna and Pimlot believe that Peterson is Alt-Right, or that Gamergate was all about misogyny then they so steeped in ideological bullshit that they shouldn’t be allowed near students.

    • Harrison
      Posted December 11, 2017 at 5:51 am | Permalink

      Absolutely this. I fully expect her lawyer to have a field day with the “lack of a formal complaint.” Let’s hope justice prevails in the courts which seems to be one of the few arenas where it even stands a chance anymore.

  6. pck
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Since the TA is an extension of the Prof’s teaching it’s disgusting how they squarely put all the blame on the TA instead of acknowledging how they neglected their duty to supervise the TA’s teaching. The TA quite obviously hasn’t been trained properly and made a mistake, but that’s the prof’s or universities responsibility.

    • Craw
      Posted December 10, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      She erred in being intellectually honest in her treatment of dissent?

    • mikeyc
      Posted December 10, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Point out for us the mistake she made. Take your time. I’ll make popcorn.

      • Filippo
        Posted December 10, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        sub

      • pck
        Posted December 11, 2017 at 5:06 am | Permalink

        The mistake was showing this video without providing the right context to a group of undergrads who can’t be expected at this point to accurately assess the content of it. About the same as showing a creationist debate to an intro evolution class to show that there are other opinions, but more offensive I suppose.

        • Juergen Jansen
          Posted December 11, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          Shepherd got harassed to the point of tears for showing a clip from a TV show. Nobody in that clip even criticized trans people; the question discussed was: should the government *force* Canadians to use trans pronouns?

          Matte, the trans activist in that clip, declared that “it’s not correct that there is such a thing as biological sex.” Peterson, his opponent, explained his position that when government uses its power to force people to use trans speech, in this case trans-pronouns like “zir” and “xe”, it does so illegitimately.

          The graduates who, in your words, “can’t be expected at this point to accurately assess the content of it” are expected to vote and considered old enough to fight and die for their country.

    • Posted December 11, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      When I was a TA at UBC, I was told I would be “covered” if I accidentally did something out of line.

      Mind you, introducing new material like a video would likely have been regarded as overstepping my purview and hence “less coverable”.

      • pck
        Posted December 11, 2017 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        Exactly, TAs should be covered and not thrown under the bus.

  7. Edward Hessler
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I’m very grateful for you keeping us up-to-date.

    I cringed when I watched her interview/inquisition. I also admired her polite grit. It is clear who should be reprimanded as harshly as possible. It is not Ms. Shepherd. These are not teachers but tellers who have no understanding of inquiry. Lindsay Shepherd is a teacher who students deserve to have and she is one that universities/colleges should do everything to retain and nurture.

  8. Posted December 10, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  9. Jake Sevins
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m wondering if the “employment” inquiry has to do with her secret recording of her inquisition. That may have been illegal.

    Lindsay said she used to lean left but is feeling set upon by her erstwhile allies and now seems to be moving right. I find this really sad: there are reasonable people on the left (like the host of this blog) who don’t share the views of these regressives.

    Finally: I saw the article claiming that Lindsay was just using “white woman tears” to oppress her (faculty of color) advisor. This same author said she views Peterson as akin to a holocaust denier. I’m waiting for her to claim that the holocaust was just a bunch of privileged whites using “Jewish tears” to oppress the Nazis. Sounds like something Iran would say.

    SMH

  10. BJ
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    So, I guess when the school’s President said she hired an investigator to look into the issue through the lens of free speech and academic freedom, that was a cover-up for investigatin Lindsey instead. And when Lindsey’s inquisitors said there were complaints filed against her, they were covering for the fact that they wished there were complaints against her and so decided to lie about it as pretext for their struggle session.

    Some universities have now zoomed past building authoritarian systems of punishment to rein in students who commit thought crimes against regressivism, to flat-out lying in order to punish such students.

    • Simon
      Posted December 10, 2017 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Maclatchy’s first apology was damage control, nothing else. She looked like someone with a gun to her head. It beggars belief that faculty could be as comfortable doing what they did if they were going against the prevailing climate. She has since started tap dancing and effectively walking back on her free speech is paramount line. She is uttering the usual waffle about the feelz of students needing to be considered. Obviously one trans person is crucified on a student canteen wall for every word of Jordan Peterson’s heard on campus. At least that’s the impression that the Rainbow Centre snowflakes are trying to give.

      Shepherd is being given the cold shoulder by her fellow students, which is sad, but not unexpected. If I were her I wouldn’t want to stay on.

      Rambukanna and co know that they have been caught admitting to ideologically indoctrinating students and their response is the usual self-righteous BS. The scorn they are getting is reframed as targeted harassment initiated by Shepherd’s exposing of them.

      During the procedings one of the inquisitors mentioned that Laurier was under attack by white supremacists, or something like that. I strongly suspect that in reality someone put up an “OK to be White” poster on campus.

      • Juergen Jansen
        Posted December 11, 2017 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        I strongly suspect that in reality someone put up an “OK to be White” poster on campus.

        Almost. Someone put up an “OK to listen to Peterson” poster in the Cafeteria. Apparently this is “violence”.

  11. Posted December 10, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    The more I hear from Lindsay Shepard,the more I am impressed by her intelligence, reason, composure, and maturity. (She’s only 22!)

    I wish her all the best, and expect she will do just fine in whatever direction she points her exceptional talents.

  12. nicky
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    I disagree about the firing. I’d say that inquisition (hard to call it anything else) should have no place in academia.
    Stronger, I’d not shed a tear if all the ‘— studies’ faculties were to be closed. They are a waste of money and have little to do with science. They should have no place in institutions (universities) that are dedicated to science

  13. Jon Gallant
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    The younger campers will not remember, but once upon a time—during my childhood, in fact—a number of professors were fired from academic posts for membership in the Communist Party. The firings were justified to the general public in terms of “loyalty”, because of the CP’s close association with a certain foreign adversary. Many of our liberal ideological ancestors (such as my actual parents) passionately denounced the firings as “McCarthyism”, and that is how that period has been inscribed in current folklore. It is also how I used to think about it until fairly recently, when newer academic developments led me to second thoughts.

    Back then, the policy of firing of Communist professors was endorsed by Sidney Hook, an NYU Marx scholar and a social democrat, on the following grounds. He argued that Communist Party discipline required members to be so ideologically blinkered that they could not carry out disinterested scholarship. He further argued that CP members could not be true to their Marxist-Leninist principles and refrain from using the university classroom as a device for indoctrinating students.

    Well, we now have mobs, legions, of academics who openly announce precisely what Sidney Hook charged AGAINST Communist professors 65 years ago. The irony is that Hook’s argument was not entirely justified then, but an up-dated version of it certainly would apply today. In the old days, adherence to Marxism-Leninism was at least somewhat unconventional, so such individuals had to have some independence of mind. And many profound and original writers, such as Richard Wright, Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, were Communists before they were ex-Communists.

    Today, a new academic bourgeoisie in the Humanities and Social Studies consists of opportunists and poseurs who spout a bowdlerized Leninism mixed with postmodernism as a career move, promote each other, sometimes conduct a bogus mimicry of scholarship, and who miss no opportunity to indoctrinate or to bully their students.

  14. nicky
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 3:42 am | Permalink

    I still think nobody should be fired because they are communist. Particularly not if in STM fields (one could argue about E).
    If in humanities, they should make clear that their courses are ideologically loaded, that should suffice. Same for POMO. In fact, I have nothing against the ‘mild’ form of POMO-ism, i.e. recognising that our thoughts and opinions might be influenced by our backgrounds.
    Note that eg. the Hitch had a Marxist background, nothing wrong with that IMMO. He clearly grew out of that.
    Reminds us of the well-known quip: “If you are not a communist at 20 you have no heart, if you still are at 30 you have no brain.”

  15. Juergen Jansen
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Good article with many well-made points – with this exception:

    I don’t think anybody should be fired over this, but the three inquisitors should be reprimanded and told how to act in cases like this.

    I disagree. The lecturers and the admin in particular have shown that they put their worldview over teaching skills, impartiality and, in fact, decency. If the unversity retains them, it deserves to see its applications plummet, the subsequent loss in funding and layoffs.

  16. lun
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Two students in Canada, at the same time, have faced disciplinary procedures for saying things others found offensive: Lindsey Shepherd and Masuma Khan. Yet only one has been given publisicty as a free speech martyr. I wonder why;

    • Mark Reaume
      Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Because we got to hear the inquisition of Lindsey Shepherd. Seeing or hearing the account has a bigger impact than just reading about it. That’s just the way it is.


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