Human Rights Professor Shutdown at McGill by Trans-Rights Protesters

McGill University became the latest flashpoint for the anti-free speech movement this month when trans-rights advocates shut down a speech by Robert Wintemute, a professor of human rights law at King’s College London. He is also an alumnus of McGill. The CBC reported that McGill University’s Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism (CHRLP) hosted the event, titled “Sex vs. Gender (Identity) Debate In the United Kingdom and the Divorce of LGB from T.” Students and protesters shouted down every effort by Wintemute and others to be heard. Yet, McGill has not declared any move to punish those responsible for the blocking the event despite videotapes clearly showing those responsible.According to reports, roughly 100 protesters “stormed the room … unplugged the projector and threw flour at the speaker, and the walls inside the faculty building were vandalized as well.” Wintemute is a trustee for a U.K.-based group called LBG Alliance and he has been a leader in discussing biological issues related to gender and human rights.

LBG Alliance tweeted on Wednesday that it’s “disgraceful that an eminent gay professor of human rights law was unable to discuss gay rights. Gay people still have rights, don’t we?”

That is a fair question but there was no firm answer from the law dean who reportedly expressed support for free speech but did not publicly call for accountability for those who disrupted the event. There is a difference between protesting outside of an event (which should be clearly protected) and entering an event to prevent others from being able to hear a speaker or panel.

McGill Faculty of Law Dean Robert Leckey sent an email to students about the talk. Leckey stated

“An academic institution doesn’t endorse all views held by each speaker it hosts. Board members do not endorse everything said or done by organizations they help to govern. Relatedly, advocates do not endorse everything said or done by the clients they defend vigorously. I believe firmly that, over the long term, preserving this separation is important, including for members of our LGBTQ+ communities.”

That is a fine statement with the exception that there is no report of actions taken to punish those responsible, including reported acts that would be considered assault and property damage. If there were such a statement, it was not reported in the media.

The canceling campaign at McGill is a common pattern in schools ranging from Yale to Northwestern to Georgetown.  Blocking others from speaking is not the exercise of free speech. It is the very antithesis of free speech. Nevertheless, faculty have supported such claims. CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek showed how far this trend has gone. When conservative law professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech,”  Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech. (Bilek later cancelled herself and resigned).

This dangerous trend in academia is discussed in my law review article, Jonathan Turley, “Harm and Hegemony: The Decline of Free Speech in the United States”, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

We have seen how this can turn into a type of “heckler’s veto” where speeches are cancelled in advance or terminated suddenly due to the disruption of protesters. The issue is not engaging in protest against such speakers, but to enter events for the purpose of preventing others from hearing such speakers. Universities create forums for the discussion of a diversity of opinions. Entering a classroom or event to prevent others from speaking is barring free speech. I would feel the same way about preventing such people from protests outside such events. However, the concern is not with outdoor events where all groups can be as loud and cantankerous as their voices will bear. Both sides have free speech rights to express. The issue on campus is the entrance into halls, or classrooms to prevent others from hearing speakers or opposing viewpoints by disputing events.

This has been an issue of contention with some academics who believe that free speech includes the right to silence others.  Berkeley has been the focus of much concern over the use of a heckler’s veto on our campuses as violent protesters have succeeded in silencing speakers, even including a few speakers like an ACLU official.  Both students and some faculty have maintained the position that they have a right to silence those with whom they disagree and even student newspapers have declared opposing speech to be outside of the protections of free speech.  At another University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.  In the meantime, academics and deans have said that there is no free speech protection for offensive or “disingenuous” speech.

The lack of discipline in such cases has been a long-standing problem. There is little deterrent for students or faculty who cannot abide others hearing opposing views. While some schools have shown the courage to hold students accountable, most offer little more than mild criticism.

previously discussed the incident involving a Sociology 201 class by Professor Beth Redbird. The class examined “inequality in American society with an emphasis on race, class and gender.”  Redbird came up with an interesting comparison for her students by inviting both an undocumented person and a spokesperson for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to separate classes.  Members of MEChA de Northwestern, Black Lives Matter NU, the Immigrant Justice Project, the Asian Pacific American Coalition, NU Queer Trans Intersex People of Color and Rainbow Alliance organized to stop other students from hearing from the ICE representative.  However, they could not have succeeded without the help of Northwestern administrators (including  Dean of Students Todd Adams).  The protesters were screaming “F**k ICE” outside of the hall.  Adams and the other administrators then said that the protesters screaming profanities would be allowed into the class if they promised not to disrupt the class.  They promised not to disrupt the class.  As soon as the protesters were allowed into the classroom, they prevented the ICE representative from speaking.  The ICE representatives eventually left and Redbird canceled the class to discuss the issue with the protesters that just prevented her students from hearing an opposing view.

The comments of the Northwestern students were predictable after being told by faculty that some offensive speech should be treated as a form of assault.  SESP sophomore April Navarro rejected that faculty should be allowed to invite such speakers to their classrooms for a “good, nice conversation with ICE.” She insisted such speakers needed to be silenced because they “terrorize communities” and profit from detainee labor. Here is the face of the new generation of censors being shaped by speech-intolerant academics:

“We’re not interested in having those types of conversations that would be like, ‘Oh, let’s listen to their side of it’ because that’s making them passive rule-followers rather than active proponents of violence. We’re not engaging in those kinds of things; it legitimizes ICE’s violence, it makes Northwestern complicit in this. There’s an unequal power balance that happens when you deal with state apparatuses.”

These students were identified in interviews by name. They had no fear of any consequence in stopping a professor from teaching a class at Northwestern. They were right. The official response to students shutting down a class to silence an opposing view resulted in a statement that the actions of the students were “disappointing that the speakers were not allowed to speak.”

McGill should be commended for seeking to have a discussion of these issues and later defending diversity of thought on campus. However, those words mean nothing if the school does not back up free speech principles with real measures of accountability for students and faculty alike.



43 thoughts on “Human Rights Professor Shutdown at McGill by Trans-Rights Protesters”

  1. ‘These students were identified in interviews by name.’

    Reminds of the Tik Tok going around of the kid explaining in great detail how he intends to commit fraud, the AI tools he will use to commit fraud, and encouraging others to do the same fraud. With his name attached. These kids are little cave men, and likely a generation away from being *actually* feral. We are going to have to be prepared for it, because it is going to happen. Even a leftist will not be able to escape so many things collapsing.

  2. Why is college tuition so high? The government provides such easy loans and grants, and the institutions respond accordingly by hiking tuition far faster than inflation. What do they do with all that money, besides building multi-million dollar athletic facilities with a tenuous connection to academics? They hire ever more administrators and pay them obscene salaries. Hence we get . . . administrative bloat.

    What useful actions do these layers upon layers of administrators take? NONE. They’re weak-kneed sissies too shallow and craven to stand up to spoiled-brat bully heckler students who are little-baby-fascists-in-the-making. Then, having been treated with kid gloves every time they throw a hissy fit, the little baby brats turn into grown-up monsters, go into government, private corporations, and non-profit organizations, and foist abject poisons like ESG and CRT on the rest of us trying to make an honest living.

    As for the overpaid cowardly idiot administrators at the root of all this, I thumb my nose in their general direction.

  3. The issue on campus is the entrance into halls, or classrooms to prevent others from hearing speakers or opposing viewpoints by disputing events.

    When people burn books, they prevent anyone from reading the books and hearing the speech it contains. When protesters shut down a speaker, they do the same thing. These students are the moral equivalent of book burners. They deprive all people, including themselves, of the opportunity to deal with ideas. They prefer political slogans and brute force. Sound familiar? It happened in the 1930s you know where.

    1. @Old Man…

      What? I can’t hear you… I have my fingers in my ears and I’m shouting you down because I have my rights to free speech and I don’t want you to express your opinion because I don’t agree with it.

      Oh wait, that was Canada where they don’t have a 1st Amendment. (My bad)

      My point was that today’s kids think that its ok to shout down people.
      That if they don’t agree with you they have the right to protest and to stop you from being heard even if what you say may be a valid point.

      I blame the liberal left public school educators

  4. This is foolishness. This kind of behavior, no matter what their cause, is unacceptable. It happens Only because the administration allows it to happen. They are cowards that refuse to do what is necessary to enforce discipline and maintain order. My position on these matters in changed.
    These schools are institutions of higher education. Their primary purpose is the education of students. Anyone, student or staff, that interferes with the educational process should be expelled immediately and escorted off campus. Ask yourself, Why don’t these things happen at our military academy’s. The answer; simple, it is not allowed. Discipline is swift, as it should be in every college in America.

  5. It is totalitarian for anyone to prevent someone else from hearing an invited speaker. The protestors enjoy free speech, but they seek to deny that right to others. That’s an aspect of fascism.

    If you don’t want to hear someone who’s been invited to speak, then don’t attend. You do not have the right to prevent others from listening.

    This stems from a sense of entitlement.

  6. We shall see how Jordan Peterson’s fight to keep his license plays out. It takes real bravery to face down a woke mob in positions of government and regulatory authority.

    He has maintained that forced speech is contrary to free speech, and that it is irresponsible to force therapists to agree with a patient regardless of the therapist’s informed medical opinion.

  7. Does anyone have the right to force someone else to verbally agree with that person’s opinion? That is at the core of the trans movement. A man believes that he’s really a woman. Anyone who disagree must be punished, fired, and in Canada, lose their license and face criminal charges.

    Men who claim to be women want to compete in women’s sports. Mediocre male athletes break women’s sports records. What message does that send to biological girls and women?

    Men can claim to be women, and gain entry to women’s changing rooms and showers. Women who complain about men showing their genitals to young girls (see Wi Spa controversy over the registered sex offender), get harassed as “transphobic”. Women who do not want male genitalia in their changing rooms, bathrooms, showers, and battered women’s shelters are told to be quiet, and keep sweet. Women are not allowed to voice their opinion, because men who say they are women might get offended. Women must not offend men who say they are women, or else face punishment.

    My gender is not a state of mind.

    People who were medically transitioned are now suing. The current paradigm is automatic affirmation. This shunts children who identify as trans on the conveyor belt to castration, sterilization, and double mastectomies. Children are deemed too immature to make major decisions for themselves…unless it’s changing their gender. Of course they are suing as the years go by, and they are left with mutilated bodies. They blame the adults whose job it was to tell them no, question their decisions, and provide counseling on accepting their bodies or dealing with loneliness.

    This is a fad, and once it ends, I predict that many of those who today passionately defend the trans movement will claim they had nothing to do with it. Chemically and surgically castrating children, and removing healthy breasts of teenagers, is a bad thing. One day, people will wake up and remember that.

    1. @Karen

      Like I said: in the future, a great many ‘liberals’ are going to be very embarrassed they paid attention to literally nothing since Gulf War I. If they had any decency, they’d be ashamed.

      Honestly: these days I wonder if their social media-mush brains are advanced enough to even grasp the concepts involved when their tik tok cred is more important to them than a column like this one. Never seen a game of ‘mommy and daddy are bad!’ played out to such an extent, by otherwise functional, and definitely old enough to know better, adults. Heaven help the kids raised by them.

  8. McGill is a disgusting cesspool of leftist fascism. I went to McGill in ‘82 and at the time the Aga Kahn had funded the Center for Islamic Studies…the beginning of the end..the socialist bent welcomed the Islamofascist intolerance which is curious, as the Quebec ‘OFFICE DE LA LANGUE FRANCAIS IS SUCH A XENOPHOBIC, NAZI EFFORT’…pushing a French narrative when what they speak is not French …I went to law school there and what they speak and the purity of the French language is laughable…En tout cas, Downtown Montreal is now like downtown Beirut ..there is no tolerance and if Quebec were to slide into the ocean, I for one would be buying drinks for all…

      1. Ask yourself some questions.

        Who controlled the media in Nazi Germany?
        In the US it is the left.

        Who wanted centralized power and larger government in Nazi Germany?
        In the US it is the left.

        Who rioted in Nazi Germany? You know the answer, the brownshirts.
        Who rioted almost 500 times burning, looting, and killing in the US? The left.

        If you have alternative answers present them rather than making statements that are meaningless.

          1. But in this country they are known as left-wing, socialists, Antifa, etc.

            You must have been taught the names of all the birds. What has that left you with? You know only their names provided to them. You know nothing about the birds. It is the same with our discussion. You know names but you lack knowledge of what those names mean.

            Try putting policy and names together and see what you come up with.

            [I note my last post didn’t have my name, but I am the same person.]

              1. Yes most know of the brownshirts, even the young, but the improperly educated ones only know the names like they know the names of birds. That seems to be you as I provided you with how leftism and Nazism function. You don’t seem to be able to talk about function, and can only repeat names. That is fine. There is no need for you to be educated.


                1. “Fascism is a far-right, authoritarian, ultra-nationalist political ideology and movement,[1][2][3] characterized by a dictatorial leader, centralized autocracy, militarism, forcible suppression of opposition, belief in a natural social hierarchy, subordination of individual interests for the perceived good of the nation and race, and strong regimentation of society and the economy”

                  1. Outside of American politics, the use of right and left changes. Those terms are not reliable. What is reliable is policy, something you haven’t shown yourself to be knowledgeable about.

                    You were provided a few features to demonstrate the left is close to fascism, national socialism and communism. Try dealing with substance.

                    The National Socialists got their name from the socialists.

                    Read the books written by Giovani Gentile who is the father of Italian fascism. One of the books is written under Mussolini’s name. He was a socialist. The Nazi Party broke away from the socialists and there was a power struggle, but that doesn’t mean that the Nazi’s didn’t have similar collectivist ideas. Those ideas are common in leftists policies.

                    Now you can continue to act like a parrot or you can discuss what how the different ideologies are similar or different.

                    Here is your definition explained:

                    “Fascism is a far-right”

                    Meaningless term.


                    Look at the left. It is authoritarian.

                    “ultra-nationalist political ideology”

                    Nationalism is a different subject and can occur anywhere.

                    ” and movement,[1][2][3] characterized by a dictatorial leader,”

                    That is common on the left.

                    ” centralized autocracy”

                    That is the left. Individualism is the opposite and occurs on what you call the right in this country.


                    Different subject matter and can be common to all.

                    “forcible suppression of opposition”

                    Haven’t you noticed the left locking up of J 6, extreme censorship, mothers being called terrorists, etc.?

                    “belief in a natural social hierarchy,”

                    “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.”

                    An all powerful government is leftist. The opposite is individualism where the individual gives the government rights, not visa versa.

                    “subordination of individual interests for the perceived good of the nation and race”

                    You should have learned this from Twitter whether it be their suppression of news regarding CRT, Covid or anything else. How many times did you hear for the good of the nation, yet the ideas being suppressed were from some of the most brilliant scientists we have.

                    “and strong regimentation of society and the economy”

                    That is leftism which doesn’t permit dissension.

                  2. Their political ideologies might differ, but their methodology was/is the same. Bullying thugs who intimidate and harass.

        1. Their political ideologies might differ, but their methodology was/is the same. Bullying thugs who intimidate and harass.

      2. No, they were not. The official name of the Nazi Party was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. They were socialist, i.e, left-wing facist.

      3. Their political ideologies might differ, but their methodology was/is the same. Bullying thugs who intimidate and harass.

      4. @george227

        You have such a nice bridge. Maybe we can hang out together underneath it sometime and scare passersby.

  9. We are one or two generations away from being in some seriously deep doo doo with these ignorant kids. Somebody needs to step up at these institutions, and soon. 🫤

    1. That’s not our problem, it is what greed and ignorance have done to our climate. I will not get into Steady States of interrelated complex systems here, but the permafrost is melting, discharging tremendous amounts of Methane, a greenhouse gas much more deadly than Carbon Dioxide.

      1. Really, that is your major concern? Perhaps Bill Gates is correct and we have too many people for the planet to support. Just who would you like to eliminate? Green ideas are not really offering workable solutions as long as at least half the globe is not concerned about the degredation of the environment or population control. Lecture the Chinese, the Southeast Asians and the residents of India first, then get back to me.

  10. Professor, I am surprised you didn’t mention the recent situation at Cornell University where Ann Coulter, a Cornell alumna and conservative pundit, was invited to speak by a women’s group. A coordinated series of left-wing students (we presume they were students) shouted her down over and over until it became obvious that the University had lost control of the event and Ms. Coulter left the premises. As with McGill, the university “apologized” for that behavior in a mealy-mouthed statement but there has been zero accountability for the perps, even though the entire event was captured on video. Likely never will be.

  11. Reported that “roughly 100 protesters “stormed the room … unplugged the projector and threw flour at the speaker, and the walls inside the faculty building were vandalized as well.” etc, etc.

    These kinds of “protests” are happening all over the place, and by the way, this is not protesting, this is sophomoric suppression of speech, assault and vandalism all rolled up into outright persecution. These stupid lunatics are running the asylums all over the world these days, and until rational people get their fill of these wackos and put a sudden, unequivocal and forceful (if necessary) stop to their utter nonsense they will continue their insanity, roll over everyone, and stupid people will control society & culture and rule over you.

  12. Also his talk subject was interesting. You do seem to see more and more separation of the LBG community, which I think is perfectly legitimate, from the insanity that is the trans community which, I feel has no legitimacy at all, morally , legally, or medically. Of course I don’t make my living talking in front of insane students either..
    On another note, big news from Texas where are six (6) state funded medical schools are being sued for discriminating against white and Asian males. An individual with a biology degree from UT-Austin, with a grade point average of 3.96/4 and MCATS of 511 out of 528, was rejected by all 6 schools. The student used the states open information law to get scores of all accepted students for 2021-2022 which showed markedly lower gpa’s and mcats of women and minorities that were accepted. Looks like the Supreme courts decision on the Harvard admission criteria and such could give rise to many new lawsuits. Time for this insanity to also stop. Read the production on the Internet of the DIE program of Indiana University Med School and see what you think. Chilling to say the least.

    1. Pleased to see GEB is using the DIE acronym in the place of the PC one. Keep belling the cat.

  13. I’m a McGill alumnus. Shameful behavior on the part of the University administration to hide in a corner, trembling in fear of the psychopathic mob.

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