Twitter permanently silences Canadian free speech activist Lindsay Shepherd
Update: A source has confirmed that the Twitter ban is permanent.
One of Canada’s most outspoken free speech advocates, Lindsay Shepherd, has been permanently suspended from Twitter. The suspension comes after a jousting match with a notorious trans woman named JY who has been accused of predatory behaviour toward children and making frivolous human rights complaints.
The Post Millennial reached out to Shepherd who said, “I got suspended for two tweets (although they didn’t tell me exactly which tweets were the problem so I am giving my best guess): last night, JY tweeted that I have a loose vagina from pushing a 10 pound baby out, but he still has a “tight pussy” (in reality, JY still has male genitalia according to the proceedings of the current human rights tribunals he’s been testifying in; and in reality I had a C-section and a 6 pound 10 oz baby).”
“I replied that this is something a man who has no functional romantic relationships with women would say, but that, I guess that describes him pretty well. Then, Yaniv mocked a reproductive abnormality I have (a septate uterus), and so I replied saying ‘at least I have a uterus, you fat ugly man.’ I thought, ‘I can’t allow him to make these misogynistic remarks about me and not fight back.’ I deleted the comments I made this morning but found out was suspended in the afternoon.”
Shepherd, who is also a columnist for The Post Millennial, told us that she is concerned about her inability to respond to mistruths now that she is banned from the platform. “Well, I am most concerned about the lies that can now be spread that I cannot counteract via Twitter. For instance, I saw an account tweeted that I have ‘sock puppet’ accounts. No, I do not have any accounts other than @NewWorldHominin. But I can’t correct that misinformation anymore.”
Shepherd first came to the public’s attention as a young teaching assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University. She stood up for free speech when her former professors subjected her to an extra-legal star chamber for the thought crime of showing a television clip featuring Dr. Jordan Peterson’s views on compelled speech.
More recently, Shepherd testified in front of Parliament’s Justice Committee, claiming that, “Individuals who shouldn’t be caught up in online hate legislation will inevitably get caught up in it.”
It’s day 334 of detention for Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, held captive by China in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in December 2018.
Meng’s wanted in the United States for charges related to the Chinese tech-giant’s violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, allegedly conducting business with the rogue Islamist state through a front company in Hong Kong.
Shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, he withdrew the United States from the ‘Iran nuclear deal’, favouring sanctions and sabre rattling to prevent Iran from enriching uranium and building nuclear weapons.
Caught between two economic and military superpowers, Canada got a bit of reprieve this week, at least our pig farmers did, after China lifted its embargo on Canadian pork while similar, retaliatory prohibitions remain for our canola and beef.
If these problems weren’t enough, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s previous government delayed a decision whether to allow Huawei 5G technology onto our domestic telecommunications network – the United States has already banned it over national security concerns.
During a CBC interview aired Monday with Susan Rice, the former U.S. national security advisor to President Barack Obama echoed these concerns and said Huawei 5G presented a clear and present danger.
“It’s hard for me to emphasize adequately, without getting into classified terrain, how serious it is, particularly for countries involved in the Five Eyes,” said Rice who explained threat, then suggested the signals intelligence alliance (Five Eyes) between U.S., Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia would be jeopardized if Canada went ahead with Huawei 5G.
Huawei isn’t the only company that can provide 5G, purportedly capable of 10 gigabytes-per-second of data transfer that can activate a Bluetooth ‘internet of things’ world where all gadgets are operable via smartphone.
But Huawei’s current proliferation in the marketplace and its ties with the Chinese Communist Party, as The Post Millennial previously reported, raise questions about why the Trudeau government dithers on this national security front.
“It gives the China the ability, if they choose to use it, to access all kinds of information, civilian intelligence, military, that could be very, very compromising. As much as I disagree with the Trump administration on a number of things, on this their concern about Huawei, I believe they’re right.”
Rice went on to say that if Canada were to allow the technology on its telecom infrastructure that would forever change the security relationship between our countries.
“That would put the security collaboration which serves the security interests of every Canadian and every American, into jeopardy,” Rice said. “It can’t be done. I don’t see how we can share (intelligence) in the way we have. It’s not a joke. It’s truly serious.”
National security concerns about Huawei 5G are not new – New Zealand and Australia have followed America’s lead, while UK and Canada dither – despite warnings from intelligence experts, and now the former U.S. national security advisor.
Adding more complications to the diplomatic mess, and the Trudeau government’s inability to make a decision on Huawei 5G – one Rice’s interview indicates should be a no-brainer – is the extent to which Huawei has wormed its way into Canadian university research, and the money mainland China students pay to attend post-secondary here.
According to internal documents from the University of British Columbia obtained by National Post, after Meng’s arrest, faculty and administrators were more worried about losing Chinese students, related Huawei research deals and estranging faculty from China, than national security or the university’s integrity.
Huawei research sponsorship at UBC is currently worth $9.5 million and mainland China students make up nearly 10 percent of total enrolment at the university; 5,717 or approximately one-third of all international students at the school.
In the day’s following Meng’s arrest as she was transiting through Vancouver International Airport, teachers and admin contemplated a PR strategy to combat commentary in media critical of Canadian universities’ relations with Huawei.
On December 10, the same day Kovrig and Spavor were arrested in China – the pair have since been accused of espionage – Paul Evans, an Asia expert at UBC’s public policy school wrote colleagues proposing they decide whether to be “proactive or reactive” to events that could impact research cash or students from the communist regime.
In what caused a wave of outrage Wednesday evening, former Conservative Party candidate Cyara Bird tweeted that Natalie, her 17-year-old cousin, had been suspended from school for having “rejected the idea” of wearing a rainbow poppy instead of the traditional red-and-black one at their school’s Remembrance Day ceremony.
The Post Millennial reported on the initial claims, reaching out to the Interlake School Board and Stonewall Collegiate, Natalie’s school, for comment on the matter. While both declined to provide comment on the suspension, the Interlake School Board posted a poorly-received clarification to their Twitter account which stated that no students had been mandated to wear a rainbow poppy.
As the situation developed, The Post Millennial published a subsequent article featuring a statement from Natalie with additional details that clarified the situation. Rather than having been suspended for rejecting the poppy during choir practice as Bird’s initial tweet read, Natalie outlined that she had been suspended for “rejecting the idea” of the rainbow poppy replacing the red-and-black poppy, plastering posters in her school which included criticisms of the rainbow poppy symbol. Natalie’s father also confirmed that she had in fact been suspended until after the Remembrance Day holiday.
On November 8th, Cyara Bird issued a statement on her Twitter addressing the viral fallout from the coverage of her initial tweets. Apologizing that her “words were misconstrued,” Bird goes on to reiterate earlier sentiments she had made on her Twitter about her support for the LGBT community and veterans.
Bird had put her social media accounts on private early this morning after facing a barrage of criticism and abuse for her initial tweets on her cousin’s suspension.
The Post Millennial reached out to Bird for comment, but Bird stated that she would not be discussing the matter further.
If you listened to the message being pushed by Canada’s elites, you might think that Canada has a substantial role in the world, that other countries listen to us, and that we are “big players.”
But all of that is a delusion.
A delusion that Canada’s elites appear to be increasingly mired in.
In all the areas of tangible power, whether economic, military, or diplomatic, Canada is falling behind, and getting even weaker.
Our economic growth is weak, way below that of our neighbour to the south. Our energy industry is crumbling, with the US, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Iran, and other oil-producing countries the biggest beneficiaries of our self-inflicted damage to our own energy sector.
Our military is basically non-existent, resulting in a situation in which we not only can’t defend ourselves but can’t contribute in any meaningful way to our alliances like NATO.
And when it comes to diplomacy, Canada’s elites are stuck in a pathetic “soft power” delusion, where they think we somehow “punch above” our weight, yet have no evidence to back that up. In fact, our economic and military weakness is the main cause of our diplomatic weakness, as can be seen in how Communist China feels free to treat our Citizens and our nation like garbage while facing no repercussions.
Now, Canada, of course, has the potential to be an economic power, and our high level of technological advancement could give us the ability to have an efficient and effective military. That would boost our diplomacy, and give us some real power and influence in the world.
But that won’t happen so long as the elites in our political and business class continue living in a fantasy world rather than waking up to Canada’s severe challenges and weaknesses.
If our country can’t even get our own resources to market if we can’t keep our own country unified if we can’t defend ourselves, and we can’t stand up to countries that mistreat us, why would anyone respect Canada at all?
Canada’s elites attempt to distract from our weakness by repeatedly comparing our country to the United States, thinking that somehow makes our weakness and vulnerability acceptable.
Even worse, the mismanagement of Canada by the elitist class makes us far more dependent on the United States, which would be hilarious if it wasn’t so ironic and hypocritical.
At the end of the day, Canada is a country that is squandering our potential on a massive scale, and other countries must be stunned to see us do so little with so much. For that to change, we must reject the delusions being pushed by the corrupt elites and wake up to the reality of what Canada really is, and what Canada should be.
It takes only a cursory examination of our tumultuous human history to appreciate that periods of liberty—when individual citizens are largely free to speak, think, believe and act as they choose—are vanishingly rare and must be jealously guarded. In the span of three days last week, incidents in Toronto and Vancouver demonstrated that shockingly few people seem to understand this, and fewer still actually care.
Both incidents involved radical feminist Meghan Murphy, who had speaking engagements booked at the Toronto Public Library and Simon Fraser University (SFU) in B.C. on the topic of sex-based rights and their apparent conflict with gender identity.
The first event went ahead despite petitions, protests, threats to the library of ex-communication from PRIDE events, and even denunciation by the Mayor of Toronto. But for the fortitude of Chief Librarian Vickery Bowles, who described freedom of expression as “a hill to die on,” the mob would have had its way: the event would have been cancelled.
Indeed, the second event was scrubbed from its initial venue at SFU, due to threats of violence and disruption from so-called “activist” groups. Had the organizers not managed to find a last-minute replacement location, the heckler’s veto would have won the day.
Most thoughtful people would agree that a conflict of rights between two groups should be sorted out in a rational and fair manner, and that the best way to do that is by undertaking a thorough examination and discussion of the issues, which includes hearing and listening to the other side. But intolerant mobs have instead decided that anything Meghan Murphy or her following says, or might say in the future, is unquestionably “hate” speech that must be stopped at all costs.
This is not new a new phenomenon in our times. Any speaker whose ideological outlook doesn’t conform to that of the mobs will face attempts to deplatform them. Recently in Vancouver, the University of British Columbia Free Speech Club attempted to bring two “politically incorrect” speakers to campus, but was thwarted by high security fees after UBC determined there would likely be damaging protests. The event was moved to the local Hellenic Centre, which then faced online harassment and bullying from groups such as the “Revolutionary Student Movement” and the “Revolutionary Communists.” Death threats were made to the organizer of the event and a police presence was required to ensure it could proceed.
As anthropology professor Mark Collard, one of the organizers of the cancelled SFU event, told me, “In 300,000 years, humans have only managed to discover two ways of dealing with political disputes: conversation and democracy, or violence.”
If the mobs get their way, there will be no conversation. But if we can’t have a conversation, we are left with violence or threats of violence. In Toronto, baying crowds numbering in the hundreds lined the walkway where the much smaller group of mainly women exited the building after Ms. Murphy’s talk. As though channelling medieval witch-burners, they chanted, “walk of shame, walk of shame.” At least one called for their deaths, expressing the wish that they would “bleed out.”
Just three days later, under threats of violence from mobs in Vancouver, Professor Collard withdrew his support for Ms. Murphy’s event at the Harbour Centre on SFU’s downtown campus. Having been advised by SFU’s security chief that the risk of violence ranked “11 on a scale of 1 to 10”, he was told to choose between freedom of speech, which he considers of utmost importance, and the safety of attendees.
It is difficult for any group or individual to find a platform if they dissent from the increasingly narrow range of acceptable speech. Who gets to speak and what they say is being decided by modern-day Brownshirts, some of whom have already demonstrated that they have lost their grip on basic human decency by beating journalists and shouting down little old ladies with walkers.
Nearly 100 years ago, a newly-formed extremist group in Munich—including a large number of students and young middle-class professionals—started patrolling the streets and disrupting the meetings and speeches of those they disagreed with. Daniel Siemens’ book Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler’s Brownshirts describes how the movement grew to include bloody street battles between fascists and communists, which the fledgling German democracy proved unable to control, accelerating the erosion of the free and democratic society and paving the way for Hitler’s rise.
There is no question that ordinary people can easily be swept up in political violence, believing themselves to be on the side of right. But the inevitable result is to ensure the demise of a civil and free society unless the adults among us who value our freedoms start taking a stand.
Sadly, the “adults” are doing a shockingly poor job at even grasping the issue. It wasn’t just the mob outside the library that the fearless Ms. Bowles had to withstand. The pressure came too from mainstream media like the CBC, as well as the Mayor and Toronto city councillors who challenged her stance. The Council appallingly voted 20-1 to review the Toronto Public Library’s policies on the use of community spaces. The message has been delivered that city politicians would be quite happy to see unpopular opinions censored.
For civil society and liberty to survive, institutions like governments, courts, universities and libraries need to take seriously their commitment to the fundamental freedoms of Canadians and stop enabling the mobs by tacitly endorsing their tactics.
Universities should make it clear that freedom of expression and academic freedom are non-negotiable. If security fees are to be charged at all, the invoice should be rendered to those who threaten violence or the disruption of events, and universities should file formal complaints with police about criminal behaviour. Demanding such fees from event organizers, who are doing nothing wrong by exercising their free expression rights, is grossly unfair.
Those who host or organize events need to hold fast and find some backbone. Backing down under vague threats of potential violence is ceding control of the discourse to the heckler and the mob. The SFU event should have proceeded as planned, and any disrupters dealt with firmly and immediately, using legal tools that are readily available.
Police need to ensure the safety of people attending events, as they did at the Murphy event in Vancouver at the replacement location. While protestors have every right to stand outside and peacefully demonstrate (even with cardboard guillotines as they did outside the Vancouver event), violence and threats of violence need to be taken seriously and dealt with by police. Violence needs to be met with criminal charges and a firm message from the courts: mess with our liberty at your peril.
And ordinary citizens, too, need to step up before this country becomes toxic and unlivable, with people speaking their opinions only in hushed whispers around their kitchen tables. We expect our public institutions to uphold our Charter freedoms, but we should all be standing up for the free exchange of ideas.
In 1867 the British philosopher and political theorist John Stuart Mill delivered an inaugural address at the University of St. Andrews:
Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
Future historians may decry our times as the turning point when Lady Liberty laid down her torch and gave up the fight; or, they may proclaim it as the time when our free and democratic order was defended by ordinary people standing up to the mobs and declaring, “Enough!”
Lisa Bildy is an Ontario-based lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. Her Twitter handle is @LDBildy.