Support Lindsay Shepherd, TA at Wilfrid Laurier. Academic freedom depends on our support.
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Who is Lindsay Shepherd?
Lindsay is a student who's doing a 12 month Master of the Arts at Wilfrid Laurier university. Her MA is specified as "Cultural Analysis & Social Theory".
The English Communications class that Lindsay taught was CS101, "Canadian Communication in Context".
CS101 was the class where "one or many" students spoke a complaint about her.
But the "one or many" only went to the university's Rainbow Centre.
The "one person or the group" spoke their complaint to the Rainbow Centre, and the manager of the Rainbow Centre (Toby Finlay) was the one who next informed (1) Nathan Rambukkana, (2) Herbert Pimlott & (3) Adria Joel to call a disciplinary meeting of Lindsay.
CS101 was meant to teach the following to 1st year Communications students:
"An Intro to key issues in Canadian mass communications from a variety of perspectives, including such topics as social history of mass media in Canada, public policy and politics, and popular culture."
Canadian Communication in Context, or CS101, was meant to teach English grammar and beyond it.
Lindsay's job as teaching assistant required her to introduce a classroom discussion about (1) Canadian public policy, (2) politics and (3) popular culture whenever those three concerned themselves with the English language.
An example that Lindsay tried to teach was the Jordan Peterson & Nicholas Matte debate from public television, which was TVOntario.
Link to the transcript is here: https://tvo.org/transcript/2396103/video/programs/the-agenda-with-steve-paikin/genders-rights-and-freedom-of-speech
Link to the full video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kasiov0ytEc
The Peterson/Matte debate on The Agenda was a sample of the contentions that Canadians are right now discussing as their criticism of Bill C-16.
What is Bill C-16?
Bill C-16 is a radical law because it makes pronouns compulsory for all Canadians to speak & write whenever a transgender person wants someone to describe "them" by "their" chosen pronoun. An example would be: "They" or "them" as a pronoun.
Bill C-16, as a language law, will extend protection against hate speech toward "gender identity" and "gender expression".
Bill C-16 will add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Bill C-16 would, in all, amend both the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.
This legislation is summarily radical because laws about words & propaganda within a democracy only prohibit words being used as slurs.
So a "language law" for a democracy consistently prohibits words from being used as "hate speech" rather than enforcing an entire population to use certain words as "gender pronouns".
Bill C-16, however, has already been done in communist & fascist countries. Think of "comrade" being legally required for all communists to speak & write while in public schools, and so on. North Korea would be an example of where people are compelled to use specific words.
An example would be from the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/north-korea-defectors/?utm_term=.fc2ae0727679
It published on November 17th, 2017, the stories from Koreans who had escaped from North Korea.
One story was very telling. It was by "a university student, 대학생, who escaped in 2013":
We had ideological education for 90 minutes every day. There was revolutionary history, lessons about Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un. Of course, they taught us about why we needed nuclear weapons, and they would tell us that we needed to make sacrifices in our daily lives so they could build these weapons and protect our country, keep the nation safe. I was so sick and tired of hearing about all this revolutionary history, I was so sick of calling everyone “comrade.” I didn’t care about any of that stuff.
As well, Jared Brown, the lead lawyer for Brown Litigation spoke the same misgivings about enforcement of words as pronouns on May 17th, 2017 at the Senate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1vkExyp1vA
Jared Brown reasoned his own misgivings at the Senate’s third & last review of Bill C-16.
Bill C-16 was wrongly applied in Wilfrid Laurier University.
Bill C-16 was wrongly assumed by “one or many” students to mean that a discussion about English pronouns must be censored. Someone from CS101 made a complaint to the Rainbow Centre about seeing a TVOntario clip of Jordan Peterson.
Lindsay Shepherd was next asked to a meeting with her supervising professor (1) Nathan Rambukkana, (2) Communication Studies coordinator Herbert Pimlott, and (3) acting manager Adria Joel of the Equity & Diversity department.
All three reprimanded Lindsay because they believed she was teaching Transphobia.
However, Lindsay had secretly recorded her meeting with Nathan Rambukkana, Herbert Pimlott, and Adria Joel: https://youtu.be/DvdTiVbvvaA
Wilfrid Laurier President Deborah MacLatchy next apologized to Lindsay:
Herbert Pimlott & Adria Joel didn’t apologize.
Nathan Rambukkana only published an “open letter”:
The “open letter” is here:
Deborah MacLatchy finally concluded that Lindsay didn’t commit *hate speech* within the classroom of CS101.
Michele Kramer, president of the Wilfrid Laurier Faculty Association, made a public statement that the faculty association “condemns violent speech“: http://www.wlufa.ca/2017/12/12/wlufa-statement-on-recent-events-at-wlu/
To myself, this statement was very questionable because Herbert Pimlott is also a Vice President of the faculty association.
So, the faculty association wants to define any “discussion” as “violence” when this speech is heard and righteous anger is felt toward it?
This is a pro-censorship problem. Any debate could be defined as violence because it only takes a few people to feel upset when hearing a “discussion” and to then define that speech as violence to silence it.
Greg Bird (or Uccello) had also run a petition that argued the safety of genderqueer & trans people on Wilfrid Laurier’s campus were threatened with violence.
In conjunction, Toby Finlay (the Rainbow Centre’s administrator) also repeatedly called any conversation about Lindsay as acts of violence.
Meanwhile, Deborah MacLatchy hired Robert Centa as a lawyer to represent the university during its inquiry. Howard Levitt also contacted Lindsay and became her lawyer. He did this as pro bono for her.
Howard Levitt discovered from Rob Centa that only a spoken complaint was made to the Rainbow Centre.
Specifically the complaint was spoken to Toby Finlay, whose own gender pronoun is “they” and “them”.
It was this “them” who contacted Rambukkana, Pimlott and Joel to call a meeting with Lindsay so that she would be scolded.
During their tribunal, Herbert Pimlott, Nathan Rambukkana & Adria Joel intended to censor her.
All three ignored academic freedom because Lindsay is a teaching assistant.
Lindsay knew the trio were wrong. So she contacted the National Post and other media. Christie Blatchford from the Post immediately replied. Blatchford next published, “Thought police strike again as Wilfrid Laurier grad student is chastised for showing Jordan Peterson video“: http://nationalpost.com/opinion/christie-blatchford-thought-police-strike-again-as-wilfrid-laurier-grad-student-is-chastised-for-showing-jordan-peterson-video
Other media soon followed and published their reporting of Lindsay’s experience of a kangaroo court at Wilfrid Laurier University.
In all, I and many more people were troubled when we listened to Lindsay’s supervisors attempt their re-education of her by invoking the “Ontario Human Rights Act, Bill C-16 and Wilfrid Laurier’s Gendered Violence Prevention & Support policy“.
Their appeal and deferral to the above sounded exactly like a secular bureaucrat or religious official invoking the dogma of a political manifesto or a holy book.
Secular politics, political values or religious dogma that forbid academic freedom, objectivity, learning to debate, etc., have no place in a university. Values that are righteous and totalitarian have no place in a university. To myself, the intellectual freedom of the TA and students within the classroom must be supported.
Finally, Wilfrid Laurier is no longer a university to many of us. How can this place be a university when the Humanities & Social Sciences in it drivel Social Justice as a righteous doctrine that could never be questioned because it could never make gross mistakes?
Wilfrid Laurier University must assure that both the TA & students will have intellectual freedom in the university classroom. Heterodoxy & Debate must be supported.
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