Wente: If Ms. Shepherd's kangaroo court experience doesn't change things then nothing will

Wente: If Ms. Shepherd’s kangaroo court experience doesn’t change things then nothing will

The Culture
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If you want to understand the intellectual corruption that is eating away at our universities, listen to an audio recording made by a graduate student named Lindsay Shepherd. She is a 22-year-old teaching assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario. Every senior administrator and every governor at every campus in the country should listen to it and ask themselves how far the rot has spread.

Ms. Shepherd is doing a master’s degree in cultural analysis and social theory. Two weeks ago, she was summoned for a reprimand after a student, or students, complained about offensive material she had introduced in class. She decided to record the meeting on her computer instead of taking notes. Afterward, she took her story to the media, where it hit the headlines. She didn’t think about releasing the recording until Global News learned that it existed and asked her for it. It broadcast an abridged version, which went viral. The reaction was widespread shock. Now, the university has a full-blown crisis on its hands.

“I would hate to be them right now,” Ms. Shepherd told me Sunday night. “But they deserve it.”

In the meeting, Ms. Shepherd is confronted by three superiors who bully her, ignore her version of the story and attempt to intimidate her with veiled accusations. At times, she is reduced to tears. The power imbalance is extreme. The resemblance to a Maoist struggle session – where party zealots gang up on a wrong-thinker and try to force her to confess the error of her ways – is painful.

During the interrogation, Ms. Shepherd is told repeatedly that she is guilty of spreading transphobia – in violation of the university’s policy and also, most likely, of Ontario’s human-rights code. At one point her supervisor, Nathan Rambukkana, compares her actions to endorsing white supremacy. “This is like neutrally playing a speech by Hitler,” he tells her.

What did Ms. Shepherd do? She played a three-minute video clip from a TV program that had been broadcast on TVO. It featured a debate over transgender pronouns. The role of Hitler was played by Jordan Peterson, the notorious University of Toronto professor who has thrown the entire academic world into conniption fits with his alleged hate thoughts. Among other things, Prof. Peterson argues that Ontario’s human-rights code could compel people to use non-gendered artificial pronouns – a position that Ms. Shepherd’s superiors at WLU evidently share.

This article continues at [Globe and Mail] Wilfrid Laurier graduate student delivers a wake-up call


  1. A good column by Ms Wente.

    I have just one quibble. She describes Dr Peterson as being notorious, for which the definition is “famous or well known, typically for some bad quality or deed.” While Dr Peterson is certainly “famous or well known”, in my opinion it is definitely not “for some bad quality or deed”. She could have said simply “famous” or “well known” or, in my opinion, “esteemed” but, apparently, had to let us know that she really doesn’t approve of Dr Peterson.

    With respect to the pronoun thing, while I think that whole idea is ridiculous, you may note that I referred to Wente as “Ms”, not “Miss” or “Mrs”. This would have been unthinkable for me when this ambiguous honorific was first introduced, yet now I use it regularly, as, it seems to me, does a very large part of the population. And this was accomplished without any compulsion whatsoever. Seems to me that there might be a lesson here for the pronoun folks.

    Finally, on the whole gender issue. When I was in high school (admittedly a very long time ago), gender was a grammatical category assigned to nouns that determined the form of other words such as articles, pronouns, adjectives and verbs. French had two—masculine and feminine—and Latin had three—masculine, feminine and neuter. There were not, thank goodness, ten, fifteen or twenty ‘genders’! One wonders what will happen with these languages. Well, one need not wonder too much as it is already happening: see: ‘Sexist’ inclusive writing row riles France, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42073148

    1. Dr. Peterson is only notorious in the eyes of the leftist/socialist/Marxist folks out there who are finally being, and I might add, justifiably, targeted for their imbalanced views. Peterson is dangerous in their view, and even some “conservatives” have described him as “alt-right”. He’s NOT alt-right, and anyone who describes him as such needs to inspect their ad hominem vocabulary. While we may not agree on all points, Dr. Jordan Peterson joins the ranks of Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant as the champions of free speech in Canada. We should not take their positions lightly.

      I suspect, Jim, that we come from the same era, where the formalities of gender were respectful and voluntary. Ms, in a sense, came out of the feminist movement, and yet even they did not make the kinds of unreasonable legal demands made by today’s “71 gender pronoun” advocates. Back in the day, (on a tough school-ground) my safe space was the ability to develop a vocabulary that allowed me to defend my position verbally, using logic, reason and persuasion, not by fist or law/rules. Even my worst “enemies” on that school-ground, I count as friends today. Imposed vocabulary is Marxism. We are continually marching toward being micro-managed and ultimately it will mean the gulag for some like Jordan Peterson if we don’t wake up.

  2. I might add that Lindsay Shepherd has come under criticism for recording “secretly” her interrogation by the Sir Wilfred Laurier tribunal review. Actually, folks who claim that this is nefarious need to read up on what is known as “third party consent” laws. Lindsay Shepherd was a participant in a lawful party to this conversation (interrogation). She was neither eavesdropping nor surveilling! She was a participant! Tribunal – WORDS DO MATTER!!!! The 43 minute interrogation is something to listen to in the whole, (on YouTube) because it truly reveals what leftist liberal/Marxists believe that what is taking place in Universities today is completely justified. It is an eye-opener to hear Lindsay being lectured by these “holier-than-thou” Marxists. It is also the reason why Dr. Jordan Peterson warns parents not to send their children to programs of the humanities in universities today. Lindsay is completely justified in recording that abusive interrogation and kudos to her for defending her position, legally. (Check out McGill Law Journal, The Right to Privacy in Verbal Communication: The Legality of Unauthorised Participant Recording – J.G. Colombo.)

    It is obvious that this tribunal is almost completely ignorant of what “critical thinking” truly is. Talk about “bullying”! Unfortunately, parents are fully unaware of what is happening in universities today. Let me make it clear. I am for advanced education, just as long as it is not Marxist in ideology. Jordan Peterson is fully aware and is in the thick of it at University of Toronto and is not convinced that it is good for your children.

    If Sir Wilfred Laurier tries to pursue this line of legal defense, they will get a shocking induction into the realities of the real legal system. They potentially could open themselves up to being the defendant in a legal battle over damages to the reputation of Lindsay Shepherd. She’s already indicated that this action by the University could impact her future employ-ability. Watch this one closely. Lindsay strikes me as being a gracious person, but she’s no doormat! Would have been interesting for her to have had her lawyer with her in this interrogation. The tribunal had no compulsion “not to lie” especially over their epistemological view relating to global warming and used that as a “beating stick” to coerce Lindsay into thinking her views might be isolated and incorrect. At the end of the interrogation, Lindsay is banned from playing any Jordan Peterson videos or “anything of the like”. Talk about censorship! Even though written apologies have come from the university, the damage has been done to Lindsay. But will liberal/Marxists be held accountable? I somehow have my doubts. They should “can” the whole lot of liberal profs at Laurier and hire a crew of “Lindsays” and see how interesting the courses they offer can really be. Stay tuned!

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