Canadian Instructor Shows Brief Clip Of Debate Over Alternative Pronouns . . . University Accuses Her Of Creating “Toxic Environment”

WLU_Coat_of_ArmsWilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo,  Ontario, is the latest focal point for the growing free speech crisis on college campuses. University student Lindsay Shepherd, 22, teaches tutorials on language use for first year communications students in a class called “Canadian Communication in Context”.  She showed  brief clip featuring psychology professor Jordan Peterson who is against forced use of genderless and “made-up” pronouns.  Shepherd said that the clip spurred a lively and beneficial discussion in the class. However, one student filed a compliant and now Shepherd is facing an investigation for creating a “toxic environment” for showing the clip without publicly denouncing the views expressed in the clip.  It appears that the school’s motto, Veritas Omnia Vincit (“Truth Conquers All”), applies only to university sanctioned truth.

Shepherd was pulled before a meeting with her supervisor, the communications program coordinator, and the acting manager of the “Gendered Violence Prevention and Support” program.  Her failure was to show the view opposing new pronouns without expressly denouncing the view that we should stick with the “he” and “she” pronouns.  Her failure to do so was analogized to “neutrally playing a speech by Hitler.”  It appears that by simply presenting the opposing sides, she was “legitimizing” the views in favor of traditional pronouns.

Now Shepherd must get prior approval for lesson plans and the matter is being investigated.  Note Shepherd did not expressly agree with statements in the clip showing part of the debate between University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson and University of Toronto Sexual Diversity Studies program lecturer Nicholas Matte.  She is being investigated for not taking sides in favor of alternative pronouns.  Peterson is been a critic of Canada’s federal Bill C-16, which requires alternative genders and adds  “gender expression” and “gender identity” to the hate crime section of the Criminal Code.

The action of the university clearly violates academic freedom as well as free speech protections.  If it has any remaining residue of such values it will look into the work of this committee and not the instructor in this controversy.


What do you think?



36 thoughts on “Canadian Instructor Shows Brief Clip Of Debate Over Alternative Pronouns . . . University Accuses Her Of Creating “Toxic Environment””

  1. Freedom of speech in Canada is not absolute. Governmental limits to speech are supposed to be reasonable according to the country’s Charter, but of course, that’s subjective. Given the current environment of post-modernist identity politics and progtard activism, this kind of mayhem is expected.
    BTW, Dr. Peterson has been lecturing on the horrible Ontario Human Rights Commission and Bill C-16 for over a year now. His funding requests for the next 5 yrs were denied by a Canadian funding agency, so Rebel Media intervened and got him funding via crowdsourcing. Power to the people.

  2. This made it to BBC news. It seems the university back pedaled quickly once the word was out.

  3. I watched some of the Peterson videos. And it amazes me the patience that he has dealing in debates with crazy snowflake “adults”. It would be like arguing to a bunch of idiots who think 1+1 doesn’t equal 2.

  4. The original battleground was the American university, where, as Bruce Bawer writes in The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Politics and the Closing of the Liberal Mind,

    The point [became] simply to “prove”—repetitively, endlessly—certain facile, reductive, and invariably left-wing points about the nature of power and oppression. In this new version of the humanities, all of Western civilization is not analyzed through the use of reason or judged according to aesthetic standards that have been developed over centuries; rather, it is viewed through prisms of race, class, and gender, and is hailed or condemned in accordance with certain political checklists.

    1. Postmodernist divisional tactics; get people to think only in terms of oppressor vs. oppressed. This is neo-Marxist ideology a la Derrida and Foucault at its finest. The activists at Yale, Brown, and elsewhere are teaching students how to smear, not how to argue. Graduates will get verbally destroyed in the workplace (assuming they can find a job). Humanities and education departments in American liberal arts colleges (and some larger state universities) are complete garbage. But people are pushing back (namely the alumni and STEM professors) and university presidents are finding their spines again. Parents of K-12 students need to be vigilant to make sure their kids aren’t being indoctrinated.

      1. If a politician has nothing to offer on their own accord or merits a common refrain is to convince people they are a victim and the politicians will come to their rescue. The easy part is convincing them they are oppressed. Rescuing them, whatever that means, is the hard part. Whether they succeed or not doesn’t matter; just as long as the illusion is maintained the votes and graft will flood their coffers.

        1. Indeed. IIRC, Haidt considers a dividing line in ideology (e.g., tendency toward victimology) between people born before/after 1980. I know people born in 1970 that are true believers in the PC religion. Teenagers tend to turn off from their parents as sources of major influence and turn to their peers and teachers……we have to hope this is true for the offspring of the illiberal left.

      2. I haven’t thought a lot about how far this post modernist BS has infiltrated our culture. But my wife has noted on many occasions that is seems that the new younger hires at her place of employment quickly revert to personal attacks very quickly when the pressure is on. When I was in the college and looking into post modernism as an art student, I thought there was just no way this bizarre construct could perpetuate, and at best was just a “silly passing fad.” How wrong am I?” It seems to be analogous to sub atomic decay of our culture and country.

        1. slohrss29, your guess is as good as mine. I was trained in STEM and have been surrounded by scientists all my working life. Never got a whiff of this BS until the last several years. None of my current friends have science backgrounds, and they don’t do politics or philosophy or anything else, and if I brought up postmodernism they wouldn’t know what I was talking about. I recall a few years ago trying to read a book by Lauren Berlant called Cruel Optimism. I don’t recall how I got turned onto that particular tome. The word salad Berlant actually put down in print was so bad I almost threw the book across the room. I literally could not get past the first few pages of the first chapter. Then I started digging up info on her and everyone I could find like her. English and social science departments at Ivy League colleges are particularly infested with these types. Professors like Berlant (who teaches at U of Chicago) and her peers do research in areas like critical theory, affect theory, gender theory, etc. To me, it’s all rubbish. WRT your wife’s experience, I imagine the younger hires were educated in an ideological bubble and never heard a contrary opinion on anything until after graduation–they’re not taught how to defend their own ideas, hence the personal attacks.

  5. This sensationalism is turning Turley’s blog into one of those tabloids that Trump uses to back up his positions. One or even a few universities in the US or Canada or Great Britain, among the thousands, pulls a stupid move like this and the lemmings all surface and head for the finger pointing cliff. It’s a slow period for real news. It is important to surface this nonsense so as to mitigate the effects, as is the case with any issue that drifts to the extreme. What is illustrative of our present, real, and serious condition is how so many see this as more than a few quasi intellectuals engaged in perverse self gratification. Yeah, Canada is smug and because of this has nothing to be smug about. smug, nothing, every, Trump fodder.

    1. Turley’s important focus is on free speech issues. This is a cautionary tale and well worth discussing.

      However, I agree that too frequently Turley blogs about trivia.

      1. Why do you describe this story as sensational?

        Prairie Rose,
        issac’s tell is always his attempt to redirect the argument towards President Trump and/or the GOP. His reflexive defense towards anything that portrays his party or the progressive left as the totalitarians they are proving to be demonstrates a complete blindness towards how these free speech issues undermine the fundamental freedoms of everyone.

        1. Olly,
          I was hoping he would respond to explain his thinking so I could understand his perspective better. At that point we could have a conversation about the extent of this issue, any ramifications on culture and free speech, etc.

          1. I was hoping he would respond to explain his thinking so I could understand his perspective better.

            Prairie Rose,
            It would be out of character for him to explain his thinking on a post that included a rant against President Trump. Dropping Trump into his comment is supposed to somehow be a self-evident truth. An individual with his uncommon intellect is not accustomed to explaining to the lemmings something so obvious…well, at least obvious to him.

            But then again he could prove me wrong. I’ll wait.

        2. Olly,…
          To be fair, Isaac did not bring up Trump right away…..he typed c. a dozen words in his comment before the name “Trump” came up.😊

          1. That’s a fair point Tom. I can’t stand horseradish. For me, when issac invokes Trump in his word salad, it’s like dropping in horseradish. It makes the entire post inedible.

            1. Olly – I long ago gave up on reading issac for intelligent comment, now it is for entertainment value only. 😉

          2. Trump, Trump,Trump, Trump,Trump, Trump, Baked Beans, Trump, Trump,Trump, Trump, Racist, Trump, Trump, Trump, Oppression, Trump, Trump and Trump

            Oh, did you mean spam?

  6. It’s time to eliminate all himmers, hizzers, heeshees, and theytheirs as singulars. By now it should be clear this is nothing but ridiculous, politically-correct she it!

  7. So much for our benevolent northern neighbors. I hate to break it to them, but it is indeed possible to play an *actual* speech by Hitler neutrally, if one isn’t certifiably insane and lost all sense of objectivity and personal perspective. What the heck has happened up there? This is shameful.

  8. I’m a Canadian and this story shows Canadians have 0 to be smug on these issues of political correctness and forced conformity of thought. It’s a shame what things have come to in North American college education, and especially in the humanities.

  9. The American Founders provided rights and freedoms which are natural and God-given. Those freedoms and rights are God-given, global and universal. Freedom is unlimited while government is severely limited.

    Hate crime laws deny the God-given freedoms of thought, speech, press, religion, assembly, etc., and can only exist in a repressive dictatorship as government has no authority to compel whom we love or hate. Murder is rarely a “love” crime.

    The dictatorship of the despotic, redistributionist collectivists in Canada must be nullified, voided and terminated with extreme prejudice. Freedom must be restored in Canada.

  10. I assume that Canada has something similar to the AAUP. The instructor could obtain assistance there.

  11. “the acting manager of the “Gendered Violence Prevention and Support” program.”
    This is at the heart of the matter: Bureaucrats with chips on their shoulder who preside over star chambers, prosecuting anyone under dubious charges in order to justify their useless position. One remedy I propose is the remove these areas of study since they offer nearly nothing of value in preparing students for the job market (other than perpetuating these white elephants) and they summon trouble for the college.

    The only considerable worry I have is that these students will find they have difficulty acclimating to the workforce life and turn to politics, poisoning America with their rhetoric and racism.

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