In the course of trying to write an article about the Lindsay Shepherd affair I found that it was close to impossible to quote anything Dr Herbert Pimlott said when he was trying to justify not teaching both sides of a debate.
I ended up having to transcribe one of his speeches – which is below. Please bear in mind that this person is supposed to be an Associate Professor of Communications Studies.
We all use a lot of ums and hesitate in other ways when talking naturally, so of course I’m not using this against him, but the rambling disorganisation and lack of focus on the topic at hand is breathtaking – not to mention his obvious political bias. If anyone can explain how this is relevant to transgender pronouns please pop your answer on the back of a postcard.
Hats off to Ms Shepherd for managing not to interrupt.
He makes another similar speech before this – if anyone has the strength / time to transcribe I’ll happily add the text here.
Please do NOT attempt to contact or harass any of the people on the tape or staff / students at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Um one of, well one of, yeah one of the things I mean um again I, I, what I see is I I have n-not a problem with the idea of debate at any point. What concerns me with what I know of having… been here now 16 years um, is… uh, and I don’t know the first years have changed and they (this is a first year class, right?) yes 101. Um, but what I have found is that, um one of the things is a, a notion of confirmation bias, uh, you’ve heard that phrase? [Shepherd: Uhuh]. Cos you did comms studies at SFU. But one of the things is that a lot of the students that are coming in already hold very strong, you know, very strong opinions. Um, whether or not these are opinions backed up with evidence… And my concern…if, if, if, you know for, again, I’m just adopting the, a schol… position of a scholar in, in the situation here is to say well we have these students that come in… they have very strong uh in my experience they’ve always have, and I’m teaching them in second year even, they, they have very strong opinions about x, y and z which is… you know that’s fine, but if they’re going to be challenged about those opinions it’s a much… um… it’s a much… um… greater deal to do that…it’s… the… like, like the world that Jordan Peterson, Ezra Levant, Rebel, Media and… and that have constructed I find quite… in, in, you, am, am, am, quite… ahh ahh… amusing in a way, or bemusing, because it’s almost like… the left has won and controls everything and you’re going to be imprisoned if you, you know you don’t adopt cultural Marxist / politically correct, the new term cultural Marxism… I mean I find it practically ludicrous that this is the case given the political economic realities in Canada, Ontario, Kitchen Waterloo, this institution, precarious work etc… so I just find it ludicrous that um, people like Ezra Levant and Jordan Peterson believe that, I mean I, maybe they believe in those black helicopters that the conspiracy theorists in the States used to talk about coming to control world government, ok. That to me is where a lot of that sort of thinking goes. I do know that there’s people that bring in those ideas in the classes I teach. I don’t feel that I’m doing my duty to challenge these already established ideas if what I present in my, in the courses I teach and also in terms of the curriculum that communications studies as a field as an interdiscipline of many disciplines, um I don’t feel I’m teaching critical engagement in a world where all the established dominant institutions in society reinforce a number of different types of privileges, perspectives and prejudices, um, where the university is one of the few spaces where we can actually take people, engage them, challenge them… um It’s not um, you know challenging the faith-based, or uh family and other types of structures in society that they’ve been inculcated with for years and years in three hours or one hour or 50 minutes you know in some whys isn’t going to be much of a challenge, but if in an institution which prides itself on getting to grips and having peer reviewed academically socially scientifically you know evidence based research, is going to work to confirm the kind of biases that are based on… stuff that it cannot be substantiated in an academic critical way I find that problematic. And I don’t feel were doing our job as an institution simply from because we’re presenting both sides, and again I use the analogy of climate change. I, I mean the fossil fuel industry itself knew this in the 1970s, it’s like the tobacco companies with lung cancer, as early as the late 1920s they had a really strong idea that this was happening and further and further research showed that. I would find it problematic given the degree of advertising and power that the Canadian Association for Petroleum Producers, the big tobacco lobby, big pharma etc have through advertising, through the media that you’ve studied at SFU, you’re part of the learning process for students to just reinforce the kind of prejudices that students bring to class. That to me is something, yes we need to challenge them, and we need to challenge them, and I challenge them with ideas that I don’t even necessarily believe in, in 203. But because they’re substantiated and my colleagues require me to teach them to prepare students better for their third and fourth year I am happy to teach those things. I know it’ll, uh I hope it’ll make every student but maybe some rethink what they think. If they come around to believe – you know they can believe what they say they can say what they believe, right. You’re, everyone’s entitled to their opinions, but we have a duty as educators, as scholars, as academics, even as public intellectuals to make sure that we’re not furthering the kind of… um… I would call it charlatanism..? I think Jordan Peterson particularly – you know and I know you’re not a fan – but I think he actually shows a form of charlatanism, um when it comes to the academy, and he’s playing this whole idea about free speech and of public debate which is not substantiated by the fact that he has nothing really that is credible in terms of the research, including his, his stuff on pronouns. And, I, and that for me, that’s where I find people like Jordan Peterson problematic, is because… uh I don’t find anything credible in his academic research to be that.
I mean, there, there are other people who teach grammar that could be drawn upon to perhaps challenge this idea of the idea of using ‘they’ around the notion of when you use it, but again I would say that that’s you know it, it struck me… it strikes me as a little bit different bringing in a debate on a YouTube video about something when we’re teaching grammar and talking about pronouns.
At this point, mercifully, Professor Rambukkana cuts in and puts us all (and presumably Lindsay at the time) out of our misery.