More than two dozen Queen’s University students and their supporters gathered Monday evening to protest against a professor they say has been inviting speakers who promote discriminatory views.
The rally took place outside the Queen’s Law building to draw attention to Lindsay Shepherd, a graduate student and former teaching assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University, who was speaking at an event inside the building with Queen’s law professor Bruce Pardy.
Shepherd made headlines last year when she was reprimanded by Laurier faculty members after playing video clips of Jordan Peterson, that showed a debate over gender pronouns in class.
Shepherd recorded her conversation with Laurier officials, and that recording was made public. The incident ignited a debate around freedom of speech and whether university educators should be limited in what controversial subject material they introduce into their classrooms.
“I was a TA for a class called Canadian Communications in Context, and during a week on grammar, I brought up the societal debate of gender-neutral pronouns, both arguments for and against their use,” Shepherd told Global News on Monday. “It turned into some people thinking that this was hate speech because I did present both arguments as fair arguments.”
Shepherd was invited to Queen’s University by Pardy to speak about political correctness and free speech. The group of protesters who gathered outside the talk on Monday was protesting Pardy, who they say frequently hosts speakers who are allegedly anti-trans and anti-queer.
Before the protest, a flyer was released around Kingston that called the protest a “rally against white supremacist speakers in Kingston.”
“We want to inform people that white supremacy is indeed a problem here and for people to step up and fight white supremacy,” said Sofie Vlaad, lead spokesperson at the protest.
Global News asked protesters what they had to say about Shepherd’s right to freedom of speech.
“Racism is always bad so if you want to use your freedom of speech to espouse racism then you should really do some self-reflection,” Vlaad added.
In response to the protesters at Queen’s, Shepherd told Global News she was confused about the subject of the protest, since she was invited to Queen’s to talk about other subjects.
“This was about free speech, and the Laurier situation, no white supremacy was involved in that,” said Shepherd. “I guess they’re talking about how I’m white. I kind of looked at it just like a comedic event.”
Protesters continued their march around the Queen’s Law building until late evening when Shepherd’s session came to an end.
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