First published at True North on January 6, 2019.
It’s hard to fathom how two people who compared Jordan Peterson to Hitler could be suing someone else as part of a defamation case, but that’s what Wilfrid Laurier University professors Nathan Rambukkana and Herbert Pimlott are doing.
No, they aren’t suing Jordan Peterson, who they called a charlatan.
Instead, they’re going after Lindsay Shepherd, their former teaching assistant, for publicly exposing their comments, made in an infamous closed-door interrogation in November of 2017.
It’s yet another absurd twist in a saga that shouldn’t exist in the first place.
Rambukkana and Pimlott have reportedly filed a third-party claim arguing Shepherd is liable for any defamation of Peterson because she distributed her covert recording of the meeting.
They say this while simultaneously maintaining Peterson wasn’t defamed. Even though Rambukkana apologized more than a year ago for what he said about Peterson in the meeting.
A lawyer friend of mine termed it a “lawsuit within a lawsuit.” Shepherd would only have a judgment against her if Peterson’s claim against the professors and the professors’ claim against her are both successful.
Peterson’s $1.5 million lawsuit is against Laurier and the professors, though Laurier says the action against Shepherd is not part of its case.
In a separate case, Shepherd is suing Laurier, Pimlott, Rambukkana, and the university’s gender violence and diversity czar Adria Joel—who was also part of the session—for $3.6 million, arguing their negligence rendered her unemployable in academia. That claim has not yet been tested in court.
Rambukkana and Pimlott clearly think they should be able to say whatever they want about Jordan Peterson with impunity.
Three lawsuits (for now) all because two leftist professors put their political beliefs ahead of diversity of opinion in the classroom—a common occurrence in Canadian universities.
Rambukkana’s and Pimlott’s claim focuses on Shepherd’s “power and control” in recording the meeting.
Did they forget the power they were exercising over her by punishing her for the supposed sin of neutrally showing a public access television clip about gender pronouns?
Their attempt to point the finger at Shepherd has a gaping hole, pointed out by Shepherd’s lawyer, Howard Levitt. Shepherd didn’t post the audio herself, but rather shared it with select media outlets that made the decision to publish the recording. The professors aren’t going after any of the journalists or publications who actually did publish the recording and transcripts.
It’s unfortunate that Shepherd has to defend herself against such an outrageous claim. Especially since it was only a year ago that Laurier apologized to Shepherd for the way she was treated.
Laurier’s president, on behalf of the school, publicly and unreservedly apologized to Shepherd for the meeting. Rambukkana did as well, most notably recanting the Hitler comparison that seemed to most directly raise the ire of Peterson.
Shepherd was vindicated and Rambukkana and Pimlott were exposed for bullying and pushing an extreme ideology onto their students.
It’s only because of the recording that Shepherd had the ability to defend herself and punch back against her authoritarian professors.
She continues to fight back. It’s a shame Rambukkana and Pimlott haven’t yet figured out they’re on the wrong side.