Not about free speech

Waterloo Region Record - - EDITORIALS & COMMENT -

Re: In­stant celebrity a bumpy ride for Shep­herd — Dec. 2

I am dis­gusted by The Record’s cov­er­age of WLU teach­ing as­sis­tant Lind­say Shep­herd’s rise to fame, and by the let­ters gush­ing about Shep­herd’s com­mit­ment to “free­dom of speech.”

Free­dom of speech was never at stake in this de­ba­cle. The Cana­dian gov­ern­ment won’t pun­ish Shep­herd for hold­ing a de­bate about trans peo­ple’s pro­nouns in her class. She wasn’t even pun­ished by her uni­ver­sity. The pro­fes­sor re­spon­si­ble for the course (i.e. her su­per­vi­sor) merely asked her to sub­mit her les­son plans in ad­vance, which is stan­dard prac­tice.

Scroll through Shep­herd’s Twit­ter feed: Her fer­vour for “free­dom of speech” dis­ap­pears as soon as her crit­ics ex­er­cise it. She and her sup­port­ers are re­ally fight­ing for the free­dom to say what­ever they want with no con­se­quences, even if — es­pe­cially if ? — it deters marginal­ized peo­ple from speak­ing up them­selves.

Last month, the Rain­bow Com­mu­nity Coun­cil’s Out­Look Study re­vealed that 26 per cent of trans peo­ple in Water­loo Re­gion have been “hit or beaten up be­cause of their gen­der iden­tity.” Seven­ty­five per cent do not feel safe on pub­lic tran­sit; 57 per cent avoid us­ing pub­lic wash­rooms, and 25 per cent avoid emer­gency rooms when they need care.

Who is stand­ing up for them? Lau­ren Wein­berg Water­loo

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