Zero Squared #136: Lindsay Shepherd and Free Speech

Dec 27th, 2017 | By | Category: Articles, Zero Squared

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.

If you enjoy the Zero Books podcast consider listening to the Inside Zero books podcast on Patreon!
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8 Comments to “Zero Squared #136: Lindsay Shepherd and Free Speech”

  1. fadanoid says:

    Good to hear someone not abandoning their political views because they don’t like the views or behaviour of others who claim to be on the same side of the (simplistic) divide.

  2. David says:


    I am new to your podcast, having found it only a few months ago. For the most part I have found it thought provoking and insightful. Thank you for producing it.

    Episode 136 has a few elements I’d like to discuss. Your host and guest are certainly very critical of the LGBT community, especially trans people. Quite a lot of victim hood has been claimed by your guest, and your host seems to display a curious degree of sympathy for her and Jordan Peterson in regard to their positions on C16. However, I note that there’s nobody on this episode from the LGBT community in general or the trans community in specific. In fact, your guest suggests that dialogue with LGBT people is impossible, and your host makes no attempt to suggest otherwise.

    I find it interesting that you are so willing to scream “Identity politics!” as long as we’re talking about LGBT people. If your guest had led a class on whether it’s ok to shout racial slurs at Black people, would you have invited her on to discuss how oppressed she would have felt if the school administration had suggested this was it appropriate for the classroom? Would your host have then stated that he ‘doesn’t really know’ if Black people are as worthy of human dignity as whites, but this should be an open topic for debate and anyone suggesting otherwise is against freedom of speech?

    Marx himself uses the N word in the Capital Part I. Despite this, the Left has grown since then to consider this something no true socialist would or should do. However, the Left has never really felt all that easy around gay people, has it? CPUSA and Socialist Alternative didn’t allow LGBT people to join until 2005. CPUSA even expelled one of the greatest voices on the American Left in the early 20th century, Harry Hay, for this reason. And the absence of groups such as DSA at Pride events is kinda noticible. Of course, every says they’re for LGBT rights, and how could you not, doing otherwise would drive your entire membership under 50 years of age out the door. Still, you sure are quick to abandon us whenever our rights come under attack.

    I want to be a Marxist. I deeply dislike capitalism and the alienation it brings. I do believe that working class people are exploited for their labor and corporations with suck us dry and throw us aside every single time. It’s just that this is so difficult when I hear shows like episode 136. It’s like looking for solidarity and being greeting with a door closed in my face. Everyone’s allowed in but us.

    Should C16 have banned the use of slurs against trans people? Well, Germany has laws banning antisemitism. That violates free speech too. However, given what they did 60 years ago, I doubt you’re going to invite David Duke on the show just because he got himself banned from Germany for breaking that law.

    • Douglas Lain says:

      There are competing values and rights at work on college campuses. To take up your example, the question of whether or not to legally ban racial slurs is an interesting one. I believe that in the US such a ban would be unconstitutional. However, that being said, it would not be illegal for a University to impose its own institutional limits on speech and ban such slurs from classrooms. Further, the government might require that Universities impose such limits on speech. Sexual harassment laws impose such limits in certain institutional contexts.

      That said, the notion that such legislative efforts to impose fairness on educational institutions should be above criticism and debate seems unjustifiable.

      It is also unclear that the failure to use nonbinary gender pronouns is equivalent to using a racial slur. The vast array of nonbinary gender categories, their rather sudden arrival, and the contested nature of gender issues mitigates against the proposition that failure to abide by a given new lexicon of genders represents an attack. There is no solid consensus on gender categories in the LGBT or trans community. We won’t resolve the issue through assertion alone.

    • Alex says:


      I came across the podcast by searching for critiques of Jordan Peterson (which are pretty good) and I stayed for the Marxism. However, Lain has some really ‘hot takes’ when it comes to the intersections of the social justices and economic justice. I am ignorant on LGBTQ issues in regards to economics, that being said, when it comes to the economic injustices that African Americans have and continue to face, Lain and co. are pretty tone deaf—I dunno if it’s out of ignorance or by design.

      Tthe Podism episode (which is also pretty good) made me raise an eyebrow. I get that it’s a joke and it’s great to laugh sometimes at our current situation but, Podism was given a more serious shake than ‘idpol’ (based on other episodes I’ve listened to). Then the Nagle episode, where they (Lain and Nagle) *respond* to critics of her book, happened; it was apparent then that this ‘scene’ has vestiges of white supremacist and heteronormative ideologies.

      All in all, not my cup of tea.

      That being said, I am interested in the Jordan Peterson interview. I have a feeling that Lain and JP are going to find a common ground bashing SJWs. It will be a horrible business move not to do so. Everybody wants a piece of the Patreon pie.

      • Douglas Lain says:

        I’m curious to know what was said that gives you the impression that I don’t take the economic and social plight of African Americans seriously.

        As to Nagle’s response to critics, what needs to be understood is that the misreadings of her book appeared to be willful.

        I’m also curious to know what you mean by the accusation that we’re “tone deaf.”

        Have no plans to join forces with Peterson, but rather have every plan to critique him.

  3. Moriel Berger says:

    Is Peterson’s episode still forthcoming? If so when will it be airing? Looking forward to hearing it.

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