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

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

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