Two professors from the University of Ontario, who were sued for defamation by controversial author and professor Jordan Peterson about the comments made during a private meeting, argue that the former assistant teacher who recorded the conversation was responsible for its wider publication.
Nathan Rambukkan and Herbert Pimlott, who teach at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, claim that their comments about Peterson were not defamatory, but claim that they did not know that the statements would be recorded or circulated outside of the November 2017 Meeting.
The couple argues that Lindsay Shepard, then a teaching assistant, had "power and control" over the recording and distribution of the conversation and had the goal of making the contents of the meeting potentially accessible and discussed.
Therefore, they argue, if the court finds that Peterson was damaged or injured, they will be "attributed to Shepard and her publication and distribution" of the record.
The charges were not proven in court, and lawyer Shepard says that the young woman has not yet received the document.
Howard Levitt says that although he did not see the claim, his client would protect himself from the charges. He further says that the professor's argument does not make sense, given that the conversation was also shared by the media and others.
“Why don't you sue all the news agencies … that published it, if that’s really your position?” Said Levitt to The Canadian Press.
Neither Rambukkana nor Pimlott immediately responded to requests for comment, but they had previously denied the charges in the Peterson suit.
Both suits are based on the meeting of professors, an employee of Laurier and Shepard in 2017, who was then an assistant teacher in the communication class of Rambuccani.
According to Peterson's unsubstantiated petition, a disciplinary meeting was convened after Shepard showed students an excerpt from a television program in Ontario, in which Peterson defends his opposition to gender-neutral pronouns.
Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, who drew international attention to his views on freedom of speech and political correctness, claims in his lawsuit that professors and staff compared him to Adolf Hitler and accused him of being "charlatan" during the course of the meeting.
Shepard recorded the discussion and later posted the audio on Youtube, where Peterson, who seeks $ 1.5 million in damages, claims that anyone looking for his name on the Internet can be affected.
“This has a significant impact on Peterson’s reputation among those with whom he deals, including his academic colleagues, future or existing students, the university where he works, and those who can read his books or listen to his lectures,” says his statement.
Further, Peterson claims that Wilfrid Laurier University is responsible for the behavior of its employees.
Shepard, meanwhile, filed her own lawsuit against Laurier, claiming that the university behaved carelessly and left her without work in academic circles after the incident.
Wilfrid Laurier University said it would fight the claims of both Peterson and Shepard.