SOMEONE MUST HAVE SLANDERED LINDSAY SHEPHERD, for one day, due to an anonymous student complaintUPDATE on 12.8.2017:, the teacher’s assistant found herself in violation of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy. Her crime: Screening a shortened clip of a widely shared, publicly televised TVOntario debate between Jordan B. Peterson and Nicholas Matte on the use of non-gendered pronouns.
Yes. And the exact charges held against Shepherd, as spoken by Adria JoelSpoken by Adria Joel, yet heard from Lindsay Shepherd’s secret recording of her interrogation by Wilfrid Laurier’s Prof. Nathan Rambukkana, Prof. Herbert Pimlott, and Adria Joel — henceforth called the Canadian Child Coddlers, for reasons I’ll clarify shortly. By now the story of Lindsay Shepherd’s secret recording is well known, which is why I’m relinquishing its background to this annotational toggle box; however if this is all new to you, here’s a brief synopsis: During one of her lessons, Lindsay Shepherd, a teaching assistant at Wilfrid Laurier U of Ontario, screened a TVOntario clip of Jordan B. Peterson debating Nicholas Matte over gender-pronoun legislation related to Canada’s highly contentious Bill C-16BILL C-16 SUMMARY:
This enactment amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
The enactment also amends the Criminal Code to extend the protection against hate propaganda set out in that Act to any section of the public that is distinguished by gender identity or expression and to clearly set out that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance that a court must take into consideration when it imposes a sentence.. Consequently, Shepherd received an anonymous, “confidential” complaint accusing her of creating a toxic, “transphobic” environment for her students (based on Peterson’s anti-Bill C-16 position), forcing her to appear before the Canadian Child Coddlers. Shepherd secretly recorded the interrogation, which can be heard in the video below. (Video credit to 1791L.)
, Wilfrid Laurier’s “Gendered Violence Prevention and Support” manager, include: “gender-based violence” and transphobia, “causing harm to trans students by bringing their identity as invalid, or their pronouns as invalid — potentially invalid — which is, under the Ontario Human Code, a protected thing and also something that Laurier holds as a value.”
By the allegations’ language, it would seem that Lindsay Shepherd battered and electroshocked her trans students (or something like that) until they saw themselves in “he”/”she” binary terms. In reality, Shepherd simply pressed play on a Jordan B. Peterson segment of the following video.
Absolutely horrifying stuff. However, bracketing for a moment Dr. Peterson’s particular points on non-gendered language, we’ll need to cover the fundamental divide between Lindsay Shepherd’s and the Canadian Child Coddler’s linguistic approaches to Dr. Peterson’s argument to understand what exactly happened here.If you listened to the recording, you’ll remember that Lindsay Shepherd voiced disagreement with Jordan B. Peterson. So, it seems that “what happened here” between Shepherd and the Coddlers stemmed from a foundational disagreement as opposed to a more superficially derived misunderstanding.
Communication Breakdown: Descriptive vs. Prescriptive Language
Simply put, the divide between Lindsay Shepherd and the Coddlers splits between:
- Descriptive Linguistics – observing and recording language exactly as its used.
- Prescriptive Linguistics – promoting, or prescribing, one form of language over another.
Each linguistic viewpoint has its merits: descriptivism adopts natural, legitimate linguistic changes; prescriptivism conserves the necessary standards for functional communication, e.g., grammar, syntax, pronunciation. Whereas erring too far on either side triggers each viewpoint’s downfalls: extreme descriptivism fails to unite under a functional communicative standard; extreme prescriptivism shrinks and becomes more insular and incestuousImagine a community that unironically still says “Thou” and “Thee” — and then imagine how long a kid from that community would last in a public school. with each passing linguistic revolution.
Essentially, Lindsay Shepherd took a descriptivist approach towards Jordan B. Peterson’s linguistic argument, whereas the Canadian Child Coddlers demonstrated a prescriptive point of view in their admonitions against Shepherd.
But this still doesn’t explain quite what happened here, for a healthy Free Speech society possesses a healthy, homeostatic descriptivist vs. prescriptivist relationship (as articulated by David Foster Wallace in his essay “Authority and American Usage“).
And so to determine which side errs too far towards which extreme, let’s now unbracket Jordan B. Peterson’s particular points on non-gendered language, which were expressed as:
Steve Paikin: What is it that you find offensive about [Bill C-16]?
Jordan B. Peterson: Well, fundamentally, there are two things that really bothered me… One was that I was being asked, as everyone is, to use a certain set of words that I think are the constructions of people who have a political ideology that I don’t believe in, and that I also regard as dangerous.
SP: What are those words?
JBP: Those are the made-up words that people now describe as gender neutral. And so, to me, they’re an attempt to control language, and in a direction that isn’t happening organically. It’s not happening naturally. People aren’t picking up these words in the typical way that new words are picked up, but by force and by fiat, and I would say by force because there’s legislative power behind them, and I don’t like these made-up words: Ze and Zir, and that sort of thing… We can’t dispense with the distinction between singular and plural.
Based on this, the “transphobe” accusation against Jordan B. Peterson holds no water, seeing that he negated non-gender language not from a stodgy, pro-gender (i.e., hyper-prescriptive) position but through reasonable descriptivist (“It’s not happening naturally.”) and prescriptivist (“We can’t dispense with the distinction between singular and plural.”) pathways.
Jordan B. Peterson Straddles Chaos and Order Much to the Chagrin of the Postmodern Neo-Marxists
In other words, the linguistic spirit underlying Jordan B. Peterson’s argument is remarkably balanced and thus conducive to a healthy Free Speech society (applicable to both trans and cis citizens alike). Or, if you’re a Canadian Child Coddler, it’s reprehensibly balanced.The sardonic, editorial edge to my tone may lead you to question why this post has been categorized under “Politics” and not “Opinion”, the appropriate designation for sardonic editorials (vs. objective, tone-deaf articles). Here are two somewhat contradictory answers:
1. You’re right: the distinction between editorial and article is sacred and should be upheld, or at least acknowledged and understood, to maintain an identifiable (or at least agreeable) break between fact and speculation.
2. Due to the more sophisticated, cynically-ripe view that “all facts are subjectively perceived, and thus all facts are subjectively ordained,” presenting a statistically significant fact in today’s divisive political climate may be construed as forcing an opinionated agenda. And so under these “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conditions, it seems my best recourse is the most damnable position: publicly acknowledging that I’m attempting both the opinionated editorial and the “unspun” article within the same post.
Given that Lindsay Shepherd received the charges of “transphobia” and “gender-based violence” for presenting the fact of Jordan B. Peterson’s debate, I’m now potentially subject to similar hate speech violations for sharing the same debate here, with or without inserting my opinions on it. And so, despite the editorial edge, “Politics” ultimately seems the most relevant category for this post. Of course, feel free to disagree, opine, or fact-/opinion-check in the comments below or in the Aviary forum on this site.
of their respective Google Scholar citations: Rambukkana = 112; Pimlott = 49; Peterson = 8,928. Yes, Peterson is a “quack fraudster” whereas the “real scientists” collectively have been cited roughly 2% of the “fake scientist.”
— Gad Saad (@GadSaad) November 29, 2017
And so I contend that Lindsay Shepherd’s linguistic spirit was mature and reasonable due to her willingness to descriptively broadcast Jordan B. Peterson’s debate despite an inner prescriptive disagreement with him. The linguistic spirit underlying the Canadian Child Coddler’s point of view, on the other hand, is remarkably unbalanced, reaching fringe, esoteric, descriptive territory (the adoption of non-gender, non-binary, non-normative rhetoric) via extreme prescriptive measures. More popularly referred to as “politically correct” speech.
From a medical standpoint, this equates to prescribing Klinefelter syndrome treatment to anyone and everyone who walks inside a hospital, shunning those who ask for regular cold medicine.
Academically speaking, political correctness utilizes the egalitarian high road to reach the marginalized, the fringe, the statistically small portions of the classroom, then, high on its own egalitarian uprightness, demands that the fringe be the new “center” — the new, legally mandated, academic standard. Through the highly descriptivist postmodern belief that all reality arrives subjectively through language, political correctness often mistakes words for what they stand to represent, treating a change in language as evidence in and of itself as a change in realityE.g., receiving a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for promising “Change.”. Through politically correct language, anyone can get high on their own egalitarian uprightness, without having to effect any real egalitarian movement.
This partially explains the Canadian Child Coddlers’ resistance to Free Speech, given their perception that some words are tantamount to violence. By this logic, using the right prescribed words makes them literal heroes in their own eyes, verbal protectors of the verbally abused.
To acknowledge a person’s personal pronoun is to realize the reality of their being. To deny them their language is to erase them from existence — a spiritual crime more serious than murder.
And it’s this mistaken notion of reality that partially explains the coddling.
A Culture of Coddling and Comfort
One of the heavily scrutinized moments of Shepherd’s recording neatly exposes the sort of academic “coddling” attributed to the much scorned “social justice” mania of late:
Nathan Rambukkana: These are very young students, and something of that nature is not appropriate to that age of student, because they don’t have —
Lindsay Shepherd: 18?
LS: They’re adults.
NR: Yes, but they’re very young adults. They don’t have the critical tool-kit to be able to pick it apart yet. This is one of the things we’re teaching them, so this is why it becomes something that has to be done with a bit more care.
The old cliché “school teaches you how to think, not what to think” has gone out the window. And while Nathan Rambukkana somewhat rescinded the “critical tool-kit” sentiment in his public apology letter to Lindsay Shepherd, many of Wilfrid Laurier’s “very young adults” — henceforth the Coddled — still do not want their ideological “communication bubble” (as Lindsay Shepherd wrote to the National Post) popped.
This has manifested in WLU Rainbow Centre’s publicly released “trans demands.”
ESSENTIALLY, WLU RAINBOW CENTRE’S “TRANS DEMANDS” OF WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY:
1. Publicly recognize that Wilfrid Laurier has a transphobia problem.
2. Pres. Deb MacLatchy must publicly apologize to WLU’s trans community.
3. Implement requested safety measures for the Diversity & Equity Office (DEO).
4. Change freedom of expression task force to include DEO members.
5. Hire a second full-time Sexual Violence Response Coordinator.
6. Hire a trans person of color as a full-time DEO counsellor[sic].
7. Establish a $5,000 yearly fund for trans students across all departments.
8. Hire a trans faculty member to serve as a Canadian Research Chair on transphobia.
In an open letter for the termination of Jordan B. Peterson’s professorship.
In various anti-Shepherd, anti-Free Speech thought pieces.“The WLU/Lindsay Shepherd controversy was never about free speech” by Aadita Chaudhury
To lend credit where it’s due, Aadita Chaudhury, Nathan Rambukkana, Abigail Curlew (author of Vice’s “For Trans Folks, Free Speech Can Be Silencing“) and the like at least stand by their complaints, criticisms, and allegations. The “Concerned students of Wilfrid Laurier University who remain anonymous due to fear of harm, retribution, and repercussion” and who, like the original “one or more complainants” against Shepherd, fail to succinctly articulate their grievances, on the other hand, only obscure the issues at play.
And it starts with our rhetoric: How can we fix trans violence when “violence” encompasses anything from verbal offense to physical battery? Who are “they” that need our help?
Unless, for the Coddled, that’s the cynical point: An obscure definition of “violence” safeguards a monetizable victim status. An identity absolved through a collective, confidential “they” makes you no longer accountable for “I”.
* * *
(Yes, of course.)
(It all makes sense now.)
* * *
THERE IS NO “I”. There is no “Ryan”.
There never was a “Ryan”.
They have broken him. And now he sees beyond all linguistic barriers.
Witness his dissolution: his spirit breaking and dispersing, extending and linking with the other non-binary human spindles. He loses himself, but his fragments join and build a greater substance: Ryan identifies as THEY now; an anonymously fastened bundle of humanoid tissues. “I” is no more.
But they is great, and they measure their greatness not by what they am but what they am not. They am not male, they am not female. They multiply by mitotic division, awakening and reawakening to a gender blender of indefinite self-identity. Witness: the singularity of our plurality punctures the patriarchal insularity of masculinity. That oppressive labrynth. They fly via sturdy wax wings of flimsy, fluid facticity. Today, they am ZE. And tomorrow, they am XYR. Would you deny them their dignity? Hold your white tears, my pale-skin pal. (Apology denied!) Tithe away your sins to the Church of Equality. (Mercy granted!) ZER requires fiscal plenitude. XE demands your livelihood. (Every bit helps!) Hail Queen Bey. Hail Yoncé. (Explosion.) ZIM, our newest proselyte, protolojizzes protologisms into neo-colonial phallogostructuralisms. (Implosion.) Did you pass the Bechdel Test? (Well?) Down, Simba. Up, hyena! Enter: the year of the feliform pseudophallus; legally plated, scalpelly operated, transphilic clitoromegaly. What they want, with all their heart, is to make people happy — Live, Laugh, Love, or Die. (Applause! Applause!) SET detects toxic cisheteronormativity and deconstructs it w/ full anonymity. Exit: the patriarchy. (Au revoir!) Matt McGorry — Feminist AF. I’m with HIR/HEM. (Umm, “I” who?) Be happy. (Explosion.) And so the patriarchy takes its final form: the conspiratorial kyriarchy, by which: Some animals are more equal than others. (PHE‘s head hurts.) Embrace your weaknesses. Take a self-fellatious bite. Like a monoecious flower: a pregnant male virgin. (It’s possible!) #Resist the dissenter, the individual, the “I”. Collectivize, clone, and divide. And: DIE, “I”, DIE.
“Stop. You’ve gone too far!” they hear them cry. “Turn back.”
Ahh, yes — another charge added to their trial: “Enemy of PROGRESS.”
And they call them Legion, for they am many. And if they’re not with them, they’re against them. Every one of them — and every them of one.