Free speech activist Lindsay Shepherd does not teach at the same WLU that I attended 1967-1971

The difference religion makes is not what you might expect. My response to “How a ‘pronoun’ class got a young Canadian academic censured ” by Harley J. Sim at MercatorNet:

Readers may wish to supplement Harley Sims’s informative article with Mark Steyn’s commentary on the tape Shepherd dared to make ( and the tape/transcript itself (

On the tape, she is heard sobbing as she is not permitted to know who her accuser(s) are or what the accusation is. Her communications profs imply that she is like a Nazi for showing her class a video excerpt from an Ontario public TV program (think NPR) in which a professor protests made-up pronouns. These inquisitors imply that she is in big legal trouble, which she isn’t – though they may really believe that the current “human rights” system is even now as harsh as it is going to become, if not checked. Throughout, they fling around gobbledygook, even though two of them are communications profs.

Flashback: From 1967 through 1971, I attended WLU, then called Waterloo Lutheran University. When, seeking government aid, the university changed its name to Wilfrid Laurier University in 1973, the initials remained the same. You want the cash, lose the “Lutheran”, sneered the local paper in retrospect in 2011. But what else did the university lose in order to get from my life back then to Lindsay Shepherd’s? As several incidents from my day show, it was a comparatively free place then:

1. Late in my undergrad career, I was asked to write a paper for a seminar that included reading Victorian pornography. My prof probably expected it was safe to ask me because I wouldn’t be interested in the stuff privately. Her reasoning for undertaking the project was that the class would not understand the decline of Victorian romanticism into the Decadent movement without making some irregularly scheduled stops along the way… But no one thought I should have gone screaming to the authorities, citing harm to my toxic snowflake-hood. That would signal that I was not suited to a career in English Language and Literature. Along those lines, I think that anyone upset by Shepherd’s video clip does not belong in Communications at a university.

2. Women’s groups came to the campus in the early 1970s, putting up posters everywhere for Free Abortion on Demand. In those days, that was a radical idea. Some students, including myself, set up a pro-life table and, predictably, budding progressives trooped up to the dean’s office to protest. He told them it was a free country.

Just like that. He told them it was a free country.

Today, there are organized harassment campaigns at many Canadian universities against students who think that unborn children should have legal protection. And the administration is Cool with that.

3. Ominously, some of the students I attended WLU with were budding progressives. One boasted that he wanted to shoot all the members of Parliament and breed humans in test tubes, raised free of the violence of typical middle-class Canadian homes. Another said he wished that he could throw one particular dean onto the road to be crushed by passing cars. Many less violent progressive opinions that tended in the same direction were offered (and tolerated) in those days. My guess is that such people now wield considerable influence in Canada in late mid-life. Not because they were allowed to speak but because “nicer” people have backed down.

So yes, the cash won out over the Lutherans and Lindsay Shepherd is living the outcome.

As Steyn notes, he and some colleagues in media secured minor victories against the system a decade ago. But the forces underlying thought control today are not defeated by only one victory. For one thing, few young academics are anywhere near as courageous as Shepherd.

It is poignant to hear Shepherd defend herself as simply helping students understand what communications issues they will encounter in society. My long-deceased profs would have said that!

Many students today do not hope to encounter any such issues; they hope to help legislate against them and stamp them out. They have been raised to believe in thought control as the key to a progressive society. They have little desire to think for themselves, possibly cannot do so, and do not understand those who can. Otherwise,

– the firestorm would be much larger

– WLU’s insincere “apologies” would be called out for what they are and real change would be demanded of all universities that hope to keep their charters


– the WLU campus inquisition, heard in all its hideous glory, would be looking for new jobs, preferably collaring wildlife in venues where they need not interact with a thinking public. (No coyote cares much if you call him a Nazi.)

But “WLU mugs Lindsay Shepherd” is a sobering tale for the Western world generally: Leaving behind the modern Christian tradition means leaving behind a much sounder basis for intellectual freedom than naturalist progressivism ever was, is, or will be.