Lindsay Shepherd is suing Wilfrid Laurier University for causing her emotional distress and making her unemployable by criticizing her use of a Jordan Peterson clip in a classroom. I can sort of see both sides in that argument: it is stressful for a TA to receive a rebuke for their teaching style, and the faculty committee was a bit heavy handed. But on the other hand, the faculty also have a responsibility to regulate what’s taught in lab and discussion sections, so they were well within their rights to tell her that was inappropriate.
It’s a stretch to claim it affects her future employment, though, because it was Lindsay Shepherd herself who recorded and released the contents of a private meeting. If these faculty were contacting prospective employers and telling them “don’t hire her, she likes Peterson”, that would be a different thing…did they do that? No? Then what’s made her unemployable is her release of the recording.
But OK, this does sound like something that should be settled in court.
What doesn’t, though, is that now Jordan Peterson is suing Wilfrid Laurier for defamation…for statements made in private, that were made public by Lindsay Shepherd. He is not suing Shepherd.
Comments in the meeting included a comparison of Peterson’s speech to Hitler, and a comparison of his opinion to that of an anti-trans, anti-gay, anti-women white supremacist. They also called him “academically suspect” and said he exhibited “charlatanism,” according to the unproven Statement of Claim.
Despite the fact that the meeting was private, Peterson and his lawyers allege the faculty should have known the content of the meeting could have lasting consequences.
“Although the individual Defendants did not personally disseminate and broadcast it further… they could have reasonably anticipated that … [Shepherd] would inform others of what had occurred,” the statement reads.
I don’t get it. I’ve said that Peterson is a charlatan, both publicly and privately. Is everyone on the planet who has pointed out that he is an incompetent fraud now liable to be sued? Is this how Peterson’s version of free speech works?