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University of Lethbridge teacher to be investigated for alleged anti-Semitic views
Ryan RumboltRYAN RUMBOLT
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Published on: September 30, 2016 | Last Updated: September 30, 2016 8:47 PM MDT
Lethbridge police have concluded an investigation into University of Lethbridge professor Anthony Hall for alleged hate speech against the Jewish community. BILL GRAVELAND / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith are calling for action, alleging a University of Lethbridge professor is spreading anti-Semitism.
Spokesperson and Western Canada Advocacy Coordinator, Ryan Bellerose, alleges Anthony Hall has been using his classroom and social media to promote an “honest, open debate on the Holocaust” and spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Hall runs a YouTube channel where he proclaims the terror attacks of 9/11 was a “Zionist job.” B’nai Brith have started a petition online calling for the University of Lethbridge “to investigate” Hall’s denial of the Holocaust and other conspiracy theories.
Bellrose said B’nai Birth’s complaints against Hall date back to 2009, but this most recent allegation was brought to the attention of the Lethbridge Police Service after a Facebook post was made on Hall’s wall by a third-party.
“We felt that it was incitement (of hate speech),” Bellerose said. “The actual post itself called for the genocide of Jews. It basically said, ‘we need to kill them all.’
“For (B’nai Brith) it was a no brainer — it’s a direct attack on Jewish people.”
A petition calling for the university to investigate Hall has been circulating online.
Sgt. Renee Scotland with the Lethbridge Police Service said the inflammatory post was deleted by the time police investigated and no charges will be laid.
“You have to be able to prove that the act of posting this … disgusting material, that the person had actually had the intent to incite hatred and wilfully promote hatred against an identifiable group,” Scotland said.
Scotland said Hall was aware of the investigation and Hall cooperated with police, adding he was in the United States at the time the post was made. Scotland said because the post was made by a third-party, and quickly deleted, it is impossible to prove the poster’s “intend to incite hate”.
“The threshold is high and the burden of proof has to be clear, and it isn’t in this case.”
The University of Lethbridge said in a statement that they are “actively engaged with this issue” and Hall “does not speak on behalf of the University or its faculty, staff and students,” adding there have been multiple inquires into Hall’s “activities, views and teachings in the classroom.”
The university also said they cannot provide specific commentary or details on any disciplinary action against Hall.
Bellerose said he is an advocate of free speech and is aware anti-Semitic views are often spread online, but Bellerose takes exception to anti-Semitic material being spread by a professor.
“As an educator, he automatically has credibility,” Bellerose said. “We are taught in Canada that university professors especially are people that know things.”
Bellerose said he is aware any decision made by the university will be made discreetly, but he remains hopeful the university will take a stand against anti-Semitism.
“They need to come out very strongly and say that, ‘Look, we do not in any way shape or form condone this type of behaviour, and we will act within our purview to prevent it from happening again.’”
A Wilfrid Laurier University teaching assistant has been identified as “transphobic” and sanctioned for last week showing her class an excerpt of a video debate involving the controversial University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson.
In fact, her supervising professor, Nathan Rambukkana, told her that by showing the video to her “Canadian Communication in Context” class, “it basically was like … neutrally playing a speech by Hitler …”
Lindsay Shepherd, a 22-year-old graduate student at the school in Waterloo, Ont., was informed that merely by showing the clip, taken from a televised debate between Peterson and Nicholas Matte, a lecturer at the U of T’s Sexual Diversity Studies program, she was “legitimizing” Peterson’s views about genderless pronouns.
She has been told that she must now submit her lesson plans to her supervisor in advance, that he may sit in on her next few classes and she must “not show any more controversial videos of this kind.”
The debate was originally aired last fall on the well-regarded TVO news show The Agenda, hosted by Steve Paikin, when Peterson’s YouTube lectures about the dangers of the then-looming federal Bill C-16 first went viral.
It was in the context of this bill, which added “gender expression” and “gender identity” to both the federal human rights act and the Criminal Code, that Peterson first publicly criticized the use of gender-neutral pronouns such as “zie”, “zher” and “they” and found himself in a free speech battle.
The bill received royal assent in June and is now law.
Shepherd was this week hauled into a meeting with Rambukkana, program co-ordinator Herbert Pimlott and Adria Joel, acting manager of the “Gendered Violence Prevention and Support” program.
She was told that after she showed the five-minute video clip, “one student/many students” — the group refused to say how many students were unhappy because that information is deemed confidential — complained that she had created “a toxic climate.”
Spunkily, she asked if she was supposed to shelter students from controversial ideas. “Am I supposed to comfort them?” she asked at one point, bewildered, and said it was antithetical to the spirit of a university.
Rambukkana then informed her that since Bill C-16 was passed, even making such “arguments run(s) counter” to the law.
In the 35-minute meeting, where she was outnumbered three to one, Shepherd vigorously defended herself, explaining she had been scrupulously even-handed and not taken a position herself or endorsed Peterson’s remarks before showing the video, and that her students seemed engaged by it, and had expressed a wide range of opinions.
But that was part of the problem, she was told — by presenting the matter neutrally, and not condemning Peterson’s views as “problematic” or worse, she was cultivating “a space where those opinions can be nurtured.”
The two professors seemed suspicious that perhaps Shepherd was a plant of Peterson’s, and were alert to any hint that she was a closet supporter of the dread “alt-right” movement they both mentioned.
Rambukkana asked her off the top if she wasn’t from the University of Toronto, and Shepherd said no.
In fact, she got her B.A. (Honours with Distinction) in Communication, with a minor in political science, from Simon Fraser University and is a native of Burnaby, B.C. She was accepted to Wilfrid Laurier on a $4,500 graduate scholarship, in addition to her TA funding package.
Ah, said Rambukkana, “so you’re not one of Jordan Peterson’s students.”
He then told her Peterson was “highly involved with the alt-right,” that he had bullied his own students and asked, “do you see why this is not something … that is up for debate?”
When Shepherd protested that it is very much up for debate, Rambukkana chastised her by saying the discussion creates an “unsafe learning environment.”
He then told her the university was being “blanketed” by white power posters, and asked if she would show a class a white supremacist in debate. Shepherd replied, “if that was the content of the week (the lesson), yeah, maybe.”
At one point, she was asked how she would feel, if she was a trans person, seeing a video of Peterson, and she said she didn’t know, but that she believed a university’s job was to make its students stronger.
“Is it your position these students are not strong?” one of the professors immediately demanded.
Pimlott seemed obsessed with scholarly qualifications — his own and Peterson’s alleged lack of same — and at one point expressed amusement at the way Peterson characterized the left as being in power in academia and “you’re going to be in prison” if you don’t use people’s preferred pronouns or profess loyalty to cultural Marxism.
Everyone is entitled to their opinions, Pimlott said, but the university has a “duty to make sure we’re not furthering … Jordan Peterson.”
They were oblivious to the fact that they themselves were proving him right by holding the 2017 equivalent of the “struggle sessions” so beloved in Mao’s China.
Shepherd is now sufficiently disillusioned, she told Postmedia Friday, that she is “about 70-per-cent sure I will be leaving Wilfrid Laurier after this semester is over.”
None of Rambukkana, Pimlott or Joel replied to emails from Postmedia.
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Julie Payette’s transgression is more serious than some suppose. In a speech last week, she celebrated secularism and science over faith and superstition in tones so derisive that the Conservative Leader protested and the Prime Minister rose to her defence, which only made things worse.
In presenting herself as an enlightened governor-general, did Ms. Payette inadvertently cast herself as a Liberal governor-general? If the next election produces an unstable House, can we count on her to rule impartially on who should be asked to form a government, or whether and when to accept a recommendation to prorogue or dissolve Parliament?
The governor-general exists to resolve such impasses. With her remarks on science and superstition, Ms. Payette has made it harder to credibly fill that role.
We don’t need to rehash exactly what the Governor-General said last Wednesday, because it wasn’t her opinions that got her into trouble so much as her tone. “Can you believe that still, today, in learned societies and houses of government? …” and “that we are still debating and still questioning …” and “so many people, I’m sure you know them, still believe, want to believe …” Here was a Governor-General mocking those who do not share her world view.
In rising to her defence, Mr. Trudeau actually deepened the hole.
“We are a government grounded in science,” he told reporters. Ms. Payette “has never hidden away her passion for science … and I applaud the firmness with which she stands in support of science and the truth,” he added.
With those comments, Mr. Trudeau allied the Liberal Party with the Governor-General, in essence saying both celebrate the power of science over superstition.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, not wanting to be seen criticizing the Governor-General directly, instead criticized Mr. Trudeau for coming to her defence.
“It is extremely disappointing that the Prime Minister will not support Indigenous peoples, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Christians and other faith groups who believe there is truth in their religion,” he said on Facebook.
A stark divide. A wedge issue, even. What on Earth was the GG thinking?
These are early days. We should assume that Ms. Payette received unsound advice, or failed to follow the advice she received. Someone in the Prime Minister’s Office is no doubt having a quiet word with someone at Rideau Hall, so that this mistake is not repeated.
But Ms. Payette needs to get the hang of this job, quickly. Yes, the next election is two years away, but consider: What if the NAFTA talks fail and Mr. Trudeau decides on a snap election to obtain a mandate for whatever follows? What if the voters return a hung Parliament?
After the BC Liberals were defeated in the legislature in the wake of last May’s election in that province, Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon rejected Christy Clark’s advice to dissolve the legislature, and instead invited NDP Leader John Horgan to form a government.
Throughout those tense days, no one questioned Ms. Guichon’s impartiality. If Ms. Payette is forced to make a difficult choice when the House meets after the next election, will all Canadians trust her impartiality?
The Governor-General speaks for everyone – believer and non-believer, people of science and people of faith and people of both. She must represent all, regardless of what she might think of some.
Julie Payette should be very careful with what she says and how she says it from here on in.