Zero Squared #136: Lindsay Shepherd and Free Speech

This episode of the Zero Books podcast is a conversation with the Lindsay Shepherd. Shepherd hit the Zeitgeist recently when she was reprimanded for showing her class an excerpt from a debate on gender pronouns that originally aired on the television program the Agenda. The program featured professor Jordan Peterson, who is scheduled to be a guest on this podcast next month, and Shepherd was told that by showing the clip from the program she’d committed an act of violence against transgendered students either in her class or on campus.

We’ve moved the Inside Zero Books podcast from the Zero Books blog to Patreon. This will make it easier to get the member’s only podcast on podcatchers. It also means that we’ll be repeating the first year of Inside Zero Books daily on our Patreon account. If you missed Inside Zero Books podcast the first time, or if you just want to hear the old episodes again, they’ll be available.

If you haven’t already you might pick up Anselm Jappe’s The Writing on the Wall or Stuart Walton’s Neglected or Misunderstood: Introducing Theodor Adorno. Reading Angela Nagle’s Kill All Normies would also be a great way to bring in the New Year.

Good stuff, thanks. It was a little awkward when you caught yourself sounding a bit too patronizing, to then dip back into that at the end. I don’t think the “the enemies of your enemies aren’t necessarily your friends, beware!” line of reasoning is really worth pushing as a moral, but maybe instead as a potential avenue for discussion.

28 Dec 2017, 11:22pm
by Daniel Mannix


Very good interview and iterviewee–rarely have I heard a liberal interviewer be so evenhanded. Lindsay makes good points about how messed up her teachers are–it does appear to be endemic on campus.

Good interview. You might be another Dave Rubin. He’s not “anti” social justice by any stretch. He’s “anti” the compulsion to uncritical thinking that motivates otherwise reasonable people to heatedly assert that people like Ms. Shepherd, Dr. Peterson, and himself are Nazis, white supremacists, transphobic…and that any statements to the contrary are necessarily hateful. Like you said, people on the Left seem to have taken upon themselves to provide daily fodder for that “industry” – which btw seems to be run by mostly sympathetic, and actually left-leaning, and generally thoughtful critics of the now frankly bizarre hard Left, which seems to thrive lately on keeping conflicts unexamined. Again, good interview.

29 Dec 2017, 9:08am
by douglaslain


I believe that Dave Rubin is not even handed but has a conservative bias. I have my own leftist bias and try to make that explicity.

Whenever I see a supposed global crisis justified on the basis of literally a handful of examples, ones that garner massive international media attention, my spidey sense starts a tingling. Anecdotally, I have taught in the social sciences at several Canadian institutions for going on ten years and have never encountered any attempts at censorship or anything like this, despite engaging routinely with controversial issues. Nor have I heard of any colleagues encountering anything similar. I worry that, in effect, you might also be furthering the anti-SJW industry, Doug….

29 Dec 2017, 9:07am
by douglaslain


The idea is to intervene into the anti-SJW industry. To address it and its audience without being of it. Tricky business.

As to the question of the statistical significance of these instances of censorship in the name of diversity or inclusion, I haven’t seen any studies on the question but I have heard rumor of at least one study that demonstrated the censorship was statisically significant. Have you heard of any studies on the question?

29 Dec 2017, 4:09pm
by Daniel Mannix


This “SJW ridicule industry” has legs because one only has to go on Youtube to see how absurd SJW really is–and by the way–use of the word “warrior” is certainly cultural appropriation.

Good interview. You mention the anti-SJW “industry” and it appears to be with some degree of contempt.

I hope you’ll elaborate on this with JBP, because I’m not sure if you mean just the conservatives and alt-right, or if you include various others like the youtube “skeptics” who often share many leftist views, and academics like Jonathan Haidt and Steven Pinker, the “New Atheists” like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, as well as those who’ve been cast out of academia by SJWs like the Christakases and Weinstein, the list goes on. There is a strong and growing faction of left leaning, liberal-minded critics of the social justice movement who also fit the label of anti-SJW. Considering this Shephard situation supports their narratives as well, is it wrong for this “industry” to thrive on such compelling evidence?

“Tricky business” indeed…

The host has it quite backwards. The Trump supporters in Berkeley came armed to protect themselves from the masked Antifa thug-cowards. This was when the infamous Eric Clanton, erstwhile ethics professor, nearly killed a “far-right” Trump supporter by bashing him in the head (while he was kneeling no less) with a bike lock. Clanton has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and is awaiting trial. Please refrain from repeating the mainstream media ignorance about Antifa. They are communist thugs and losers.

10 Jan 2018, 6:52pm
by Lapisetanima


It is more than possible that the right is using the free speech argument opportunistically, that it isn’t a core value, and that they shouldn’t be trusted. There seems to be a kind of safety catch or bulkhead in our system. The losers are *always* the ones who stand up for and demand free speech; the ones in charge are always the ones leaning against it. This goes back to America’s beginnings with the marginalized puritan and Catholic minorities, then to the racist post bellum south. Consider how hard the mainstream progressives leaned against free speech in the first world war and first red scare eras.

Once the losers have lost, their final plea is always “at least just let us talk,” or maybe “fine, you have your way now, but just let us do thing our way, over here, away from everyone else.”

The broader society usually listens to this plea. Then time goes on, then something else changes, and society moves on. Consider the time between the 14th amendment and the civil rights movements of the 50s and 60s.

The right has been on the loosing end for several decades, despite achieving considerable rearguard victories and partial reversals. But after gay marriage and the debacles of Bush II and ongoing debacles of Trump, they are nearly prostrate, and on top of that, almost surely a progressive or progressive sympathiser will soon be president again. Their final plea will be just for free speech, and a desire to just have a few things their own way (some bakeries, etc).

Should we honor the old safety catches, or has the time nearly come for a fuller victory for the left?


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