Lindsay Shepherd, the Wilfrid Laurier University teaching assistant at the center of Canada’s most recent free-speech controversy, says that she no longer identifies herself as a leftist.
Late last year, the outspoken 23-year-old was reprimanded by her faculty over a clip featuring University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson in her tutorials on critical thinking at Wilfrid Laurier. She stood her ground, forcing the institution to apologize for their mistreatment of her.
Her actions led to an onslaught of accusations condemning her over “transphobia” and “bigotry,” turning her into a pariah on the left for her continued refusal to toe the progressive line.
Following the controversy, Shepherd and her group, the Laurier Society for Open Inquiry, invited right-wing commentator and former Rebel Media reporter Faith Goldy to speak at the school to talk about immigration and border control in Canada.
Shepherd says that every professor that the group invited to debate Goldy declined their invitations, prompting her to write a piece in Macleans. She stated: “One must wonder: if her arguments are so intellectually void and unreasonable, as critics claim, why was no one willing to take on her supposedly bunk arguments about white identity? Wouldn’t it be an easy win?”
Her invitation of the right-wing personality led to a new wave of attacks on her character, and many of her critics accused her of bringing neo-Nazism to Wilfrid Laurier University. Goldy’s speech at the event was disrupted by protesters who pulled the fire alarm, preventing the speech from ever happening.
Despite Shepherd’s own reservations and criticisms of Goldy, who once appeared on a neo-Nazi podcast and recited slogans associated with white nationalism, Shepherd makes it clear that she does not support Goldy’s views and simply wants to explore the otherwise “taboo topic,” which—as she correctly argues—should be openly and freely engaged with and deconstructed.
“This simple process is one of the very basic conditions of a liberal democracy,” Shepherd wrote. “Instead, censorious campus activists silenced a much-needed discussion.”
Shepherd now finds herself at the center of a leftist-driven harassment campaign painting her as a white supremacist, spreading pictures of her alongside Goldy and another individual connected to the alt-right movement during their visit to Wilfrid Laurier.
In response, Shepherd isn’t backing down, and instead released a video late Friday explaining how she has now come to the realization that she is no longer a leftist.
I’ve come to the realization that I am no longer a leftist. Here’s why.
“I naturally saw myself as being a leftist,” Shepherd explains. “I was pro-environment. I believed in climate change. I was pro-gay marriage. I took the bus everywhere. I didn’t take the car.”
Shepherd, who still holds fast to these views, says that she naturally saw herself as part of the left without really thinking about it. “I kind of stuck to that and still believe that throughout the whole controversy at Wilfrid Laurier University.”
“It’s more recently, actually, specifically the fallout from the Faith Goldy event as part of my club that I realized I am not a leftist,” Shepherd continues. “I realized finally, and I’m tuning in now but people have been well aware of this before I’ve announced it now, but what is the left?”
“They’re pro-censorship. They’re victimhood culture. They’re all about moral righteousness. They’re taught that claiming to be offended results in a moral victory and Jonathan Rauch wrote this in his book ‘Kindly Inquisitors’ that there is this victimhood mentality—they don’t believe in personal responsibility,” says Shepherd.
Jonathan Rauch wrote his book ‘Kindly Inquisitors’ over 20 years ago, but it is now more relevant than ever. I’ve spoken to many profs who say they endorse free speech, but that ‘provocateurs’ like Milo Yiannopoulos shouldn’t have platforms. Rauch’s point is short but bang-on.
“They’re completely intolerant of diversity of thought. Intolerant,” she adds. “They’re humorless people. They want to make society boring. And they want to make it so that no one can do so much as make a joke. If you are not on their side one-hundred percent, they will slander you mercilessly. And it’d be funny if it weren’t such a dirty trick.”
Shepherd highlights an example of how leftists released a photo of her standing beside Goldy and another individual at a crosswalk, with claims that she has now absorbed their ideology, which is white nationalism. Shepherd, who makes it clear that she is not a white nationalist, points out that the left has made it forbidden to speak about certain issues like being white from any neutral perspective.
Shepherd says that her detractors on the left are spreading the image for the sake of spreading the lie accusing her of being a white nationalist.
“It’s controlling. It’s trying to control the narrative. It’s trying to make it so that if you talk about being white it must mean that you must have a white nationalist agenda, which is obviously not the case, but again they’re trying to control the narrative,” she says.
Shepherd, who says that she no longer wants to be a part of the “disgusting leftist culture” that has led to lies and slander being told about her, says that she is sometimes brought up as an example of a leftist who advocates for free speech.
“I just want to clear the air that it does not describe me anymore.”
Photograph via Macleans.
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