Lindsay Shepherd: My Laurier interrogation shows universities have lost sight of their purpose

How can humanities departments justify charging students tuition if they are not teaching them to think critically?

One of the research paper topics that students from Communication Studies 101 at Wilfrid Laurier University can choose to write about this semester is communication bubbles. Communication bubbles refer to the phenomenon of people becoming entrapped in ideological echo chambers as a result of only seeking out, or being fed, news that confirms their existing beliefs. This trend has been greatly exacerbated in recent years by social media. As a proponent of viewpoint diversity, I find the idea of communication bubbles fascinating but troubling—I believe a willingness to explore new ideas, entertain a variety of perspectives, and confront information that challenges one’s beliefs are critical values.

I am a teaching assistant for Communication Studies 101. Last month, I showed my students a clip from TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, which showed University of Toronto professors Jordan Peterson and Nicholas Matte debating the contentious issue of gender pronouns. I mentioned to my class that watching debates such as the one we were about to view is a great way to break out of communication bubbles and decide for oneself whether an argument is valid or not. I emphasized that watching ideas being debated in action is how a “marketplace of ideas” is formed (a concept that is studied in the very course in which I was censured, ironically enough).

Wilfrid Laurier teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd finishes speaking at a rally in support of academic freedom near the university in Waterloo, Ont., on Nov. 24, 2017. Tyler Anderson/National Post

I find the idea of communication bubbles fascinating but troubling

Apparently, one or more students in my tutorial would have preferred to stay in their own bubbles, as they complained about the content of my tutorial to the course professor. I ended up being hauled before a three-person panel that many have described as “Orwellian,” “Maoist,” and “Kafkaesque.” I was told that playing the TVO clip was tantamount to violence, and that I had created a toxic climate and unsafe learning environment. I was also told that I had violated everything from the university’s Gendered Violence and Sexual Assault Policy to the Ontario Human Rights Code to Bill C-16.

I recorded this meeting, released it to the media, and—after the story had gone international—received a pair of lacklustre apologies from both the president of WLU and the course professor. The university has now launched a task force on freedom of expression in addition to a “neutral third party investigation” that will gather facts about the tutorial I taught in early November.

Despite the intellectual beating I got from my superiors, I still believe that debate, discussion, and dialogue are fundamental to the institution of the university.

Learning how to think critically is at the root of these arts programs, or should be

My undergraduate degree is in Communication and Political Science, so I know first-hand that students of the arts and humanities must constantly defend themselves from criticism that their degrees are worthless and will never get them a job. But I still believe it is incredibly valuable for anyone to study culture, society, history, and language. Learning how to think critically is at the root of these arts programs. Or at least it should be.

WLU’s interrogation of my decision to air two sides of a topical debate was so troubling because it revealed that these educators don’t believe critical thinking matters, or that they fear students exercising critical thought might lead them to politically incorrect conclusions. If that’s the case, how can these departments justify charging students for these degrees?

While many may call to de-fund departments in the arts and humanities, I believe we should instead restore their integrity. The first step in this direction is to remove constraints aimed at making classrooms emotional “safe spaces.” One step would be for the university to institute a free speech policy such as the Statement on Principles of Free Expression adopted by the University of Chicago. The statement affirms the university’s commitment to ensuring that ideas that may be considered unwise or offensive are not suppressed.

Students need to approach university with an openness to being challenged

I also believe students need to approach university with an openness to being challenged. If a student is not willing to discuss topical issues in an open and respectful way with peers who may have vastly different perspectives, that student should take a year off and only return to university if and when he or she is ready for dialogue and debate.

The reason I chose to pursue a master’s degree in the first place was not to advance my career prospects, but to advance my intellectual horizons. I am not sure I am achieving this goal, as I find myself surrounded by professors and students who are intent on pushing an ideological agenda, censoring certain topics from the classroom, and enforcing echo chambers of homogenous thought. I accept that I am partly to blame for this. I have been complicit in self-censorship these past years, by staying silent for fear of expressing ideas that could make me a pariah among the authoritarian left, who seem to think they have a stronghold on classroom morality.

But now, I have stopped paying any mind to the reactionary labelling and thought-policing from this group, and I feel more free than I have felt in a long time.

Share your thoughts

Unknown-33images-126Victory for Peruvian parents as schools remove gender ideology from schools

Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

gender ideology , parents rights , peru

LIMA, Peru, December 4, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) —

Following protests of over a million Peruvians, the Peruvian government has withdrawn a national school curriculum denounced by parents for its inclusion of gender ideology.

Peru’s Department of Education announced in a November 24 statement that the 2009 version of the National Curriculum would be reinstated in the nation’s schools. The 2009 curriculum does not have the gender ideology elements contained in the 2016 version approved for 2017.

The parents’ group organized under the hashtag #ConMisHijosNoTeMetas (Don’t you mess with my children) called the move “new victory for parents.”

Population Research Institute’s Latin American researcher Sergio Burga concurred in a statement to ACI Prensa translated by National Catholic Register, saying that the Department of Education’s decision to reverse 2016 curriculum was “a great victory for the thousands of parents represented by #ConMisHijosNoTeMetas.”

Peru’s Department of Education had approved the 2017 National Curriculum for Basic Education in late 2016 amidst criticism from parents, teachers and the Catholic Church, along with a number of Christian groups in the country.

The #ConMisHijosNoTeMetas group organized marches in March 2017, assembling more than 1.5 million Peruvians to protest against gender ideology.

The Peruvian bishops’ conference (Conferencia Episcopal Peruana) was among those critical of the Education Department’s new curriculum for its inclusion of “concepts which do not proceed from the Constitution, but rather are taken from so-called gender ideology.”

In August, Peru’s Superior Court of Justice ruled in favor of another parents group, Parents in Action (Padres en Acción), which had sued the Department of Education, arguing that the curriculum was a move to indoctrinate schoolchildren with gender ideology.

In time, the censorship of free speech impacts everyone,……left, right and centre.  Because totalitarians cannot tolerate dissent,….even from their own.  

Satan, the father of lies does not care about ideology.  He doesn’t care what method is used, …..capitalism, communism, evolutionism, pacifism……. so long as ideas can be twisted to distort the eternal truths of God.  It matters only that humanity is rendered helpless to seek and to find the only God of all creation.

So think for yourself, and you will know freedom, even in places of repression, because God is never far from those who want to live in His truth.  ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.

Make no mistake about it, wherever you live on earth, whatever your education, pigment, power, wealth or poverty,….there is a battle waging in the heavens, over your eternal soul.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.  And that all-powerful God loves you. –   Gerda


Vision and Motivation

The Soviet Union and its client states in Eastern Europe, otherwise known as the Eastern Bloc, were authoritarian states which restricted free expression and monopolized control of public discourse, putting all mass media under state control and


censorship. Newspapers such as Pravda acted as mouthpieces of the Soviet Communist Party, while printing presses and radio stations were monopolized by state agencies such as print media’s Goskomizdat and radio and television’s Gosteleradio. Those who distributed material not in political and ideological conformity with the Communist regime faced severe repercussions.

Nevertheless, some countries in the Eastern Bloc enjoyed periods of relative openness and liberalization, even before Mikhail Gorbachev’s reformist policies of glasnostand perestroika ultimately brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union. Such openings, including Nikita Khrushchev’s premiership in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia’s “Prague Spring” of 1968, inspired some writers, artists, and dissidents to dare producing material outside the purview of the state press. These underground publications, known as samizdat, became famous for skirting strict government censorship and spreading news, literature, and even music across countries and borders. Although reaching a limited readership, samizdat became an essential channel for uncensored communication among Soviet intellectuals and between them and the outside world.

Certain Communist leaders, such as Khrushchev in the Soviet Union and Alexander Dubcek in Czechslovakia, exhibited reformist tendencies and partially liberalized their systems. In doing so, they faced staunch resistance from hardliners in their parties, and opposition to both men’s policies was so great that both were ultimately removed from power. Khrushchev, for example, was forced into retirement by former protégé Leonid Brezhnev, who also ordered Dubcek’s overthrow through the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.[1]

The return to harsher authoritarianism gave impetus to samizdat, as works allowed under Khrushchev were forced back underground. Certain events, such as the show trials of Soviet writers and the Helsinki Accords in 1975, drove a small but determined group of dissidents to highlight their regimes’ failings through samizdat, risking imprisonment and exile to demand respect for human rights. Samizdat continued to act as one of the few outlets for free expression until Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost, or “openness”, allowed dissident or unofficial writings and works to be published openly in the late 1980s.

Goals and Objectives

The term samizdat, originally coined by the poet Nikolai Glazkov, means “I-self-publish”.[2] Samizdatincludes the politically-minded essays and newsletters, novels, poetry, and banned foreign works which circulated among dissident and intellectual classes in the Eastern Bloc. The creators of samizdatwere motivated by a variety of factors, and the term represents a system of publication rather than a unified ideology. At the outset, most of these writers, poets, and musicians only sought to exercise their creative talents outside the limitations of state media, using samizdat as an outlet for material unacceptable to the official press or recording industry. As political conditions became more restrictive in the 1960s and 1970s, others used the underground press to criticize the human rights and international treaty violations of their regimes.

Although much samizdat was not political, some of the Soviet Union’s most acclaimed literary works were biting critiques of the regime that circulated underground. Varlam Shalamov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, both former inmates of Stalin’s gulag, authored novels which are credited with exposing and drawing global attention to Joseph Stalin’s forced labor camps, where millions of Soviet citizens were summarily interned and many ultimately died of starvation. Shalamov was most famous for The Kolyma Tales, a series of short stories offering a semifictional account of prisoner life in the Kolyma labor camps.

Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich exemplified the unprecedented level of public discourse allowed under Khrushchev, and helped lead to his winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. Solzhenitsyn’s next work, The Gulag Archipelago, was an expansive and thoroughly detailed indictment of the gulag which drew on the experiences of 227 former prisoners and detailed the hardships they suffered there as well as various aspects of life inside the camp system itself. Solzhenitsyn described the gulag as an archipelago of islands which “crisscrossed and patterned that other country within which it was located, like a gigantic patchwork, cutting into its cities, hovering over its streets. Yet there were many who did not even guess at its presence and many, many others who had heard something vague. And only those who had been there knew the whole truth.”[3]

Solzhenitsyn exposed this parallel world by publishing The Gulag Archipelago as samizdat in 1973. He explained: “I have absorbed into myself my own 11 years there not as something shameful, nor as a nightmare to be cursed: I have come almost to love that monstrous world, and now, by a happy turn of events, I have also been entrusted with many recent reports and letters. So perhaps I shall be able to give some account of the bones and flesh of that salamander [a reference to frozen, prehistoric fish that gulag prisoners found and promptly ate] – which, incidentally, is still alive.”[4] The price Solzhenitsyn paid for this exposure was his arrest, deportation, and loss of citizenship.

SamizdatWhile samizdat refers specifically to written works, other forms of underground media actually enjoyed a wider audience in the Soviet Union. This is particularly true of magnitizdat, unauthorized recordings typified by popular “bards” like Bulat Okudzhava, Vladimir Vysotskii, and Aleksandr Galich. These men specialized in avtorskaia pesnia, a style of music which consisted of an individual musician singing poetry and playing an acoustic guitar. While in sharp contrast to the state’s large orchestras and not part of the official music industry, many songs were not overtly political. The artists also could not control or receive payment for distribution of the recordings, making them simply creative expression.[5] While the readership of written samizdat may have numbered only in the thousands, up to a million Soviet citizens listened to magnitizdat recordings and easily copied them on legal reel-to-reel tape recorders instead of typing individual copies of samizdat on the precious few personal typewriters not controlled by the state.[6]

As a leisure activity, magnitizdat offered a more personal and intimate alternative to official music, as Soviet bards performed songs on their own and for much smaller audiences. Thanks to both a more benign official perception of magnitizdat and its widespread popularity, Soviet officials did not expend considerable effort to suppress it. Nevertheless, Aleksandr Galich lauded underground media in his song “We’re no worse than Horace,” singing “Untruth roams from region to region, sharing her experience with the neighboring Untruth, but that which is softly sung in half-voice resounds, but that which is read in a whisper thunders.”[7]


Samizdat was not a movement and did not have a clear leadership or organizational structure. Creating an official opposition was unfeasible in the Eastern Bloc, as its Communist regimes did not tolerate political opposition and security services like the Soviet Committee for State Security (KGB) maintained constant surveillance and pressure on dissidents and suspected opponents. A select group of dissidents, however, were willing to defy the intelligence services and the threat of persecution by criticizing the actions of their respective regimes. That criticism was usually expressed in the form of samizdat, and in the case of Czechslovakia, some of those dissidents would go on to lead the country out of communism and to democracy.

After Soviet forces crushed the Prague Spring in 1968 and occupied Czechoslovakia, the regime embarked on a “normalization” effort, meaning renewed authoritarianism and the persecution of social and cultural undesirables. Such undesirables included the band Plastic People of the Universe, seen as a prominent symbol of dissent against communism and punished accordingly. The band never intended to become a political symbol. Frontman Milan Hlavsa explained that “We just loved rock’n’roll and wanted to be famous… Rock’n’roll wasn’t just music to us but kind of life itself.”[8]

As a rock band that sang Western songs and attracted large numbers of fans, it was nevertheless part of a counterculture that threatened the regime. After having their musicians’ licenses revoked in 1970 and being put on trial in 1976, the band was forced to go underground, with Canadian member Paul Wilson being deported and saxophone player Vratislav Brabenec being forced into exile.[9] The trial took place despite the government’s ascension to the Helsinki Accords the year before, which committed it to protection of freedom of thought and other civil liberties. The trial of Plastic People of the Universe thus helped a wide range of activists and dissents rally to demand the government follow international human rights norms. According to band member Paul Wilson, “What was significant was that the Plastic People of the Universe were the catalyst that brought these elements together. I’m not saying that there wouldn’t have been a human rights movement in Czechoslovakia without the Plastics, but they became the first sort of ’cause celebre’.”[10]

In January 1977, 240 activists, including writer Vaclav Havel, academic Jan Patocka, diplomat Jiri Hajek, and then 25-year-old activist Anna Sabatova, secretly prepared and signed a petition addressed to the government, called Charter 77, which pointed out the large-scale violations of its treaty obligations and called for greater civic and human rights in Czechoslovakia. Working by consensus and seeking the opinions of all signatories, the leaders of the Charter 77 movement brought together not only prominent intellectuals and artists but also a disparate set of dissident groups, including officially repressed religious organizations, disaffected youth, and Communists expelled from the party after the 1968 invasion.

Anna Sanatova described the unity of the movement in 2008, saying “Charter 77 brought atheists into contact with Christians of all denominations. It united writers and artists with scientists and politicians, as well as laborers and clerks. It also brought together the old and the young. Seventeen-year-old dissidents could rub shoulders with people who had fought against fascist Germany and who served time in Stalinist labor camps.”[11] The movement’s leadership structure was also designed to ensure its perseverance: “The original document also gave three people… the right to serve as spokesmen for the movement and to represent it in its dealings with the state and other organizations… whenever a spokesperson was arrested, someone else was named to replace them.”[12]

Although Charter 77 was suppressed and many of its leaders targeted by the regime, it attracted widespread attention abroad and foreshadowed the fall of the Communist regime a decade later. Sanatova points out that “when the totalitarian regimes of Central and Eastern Europe began unraveling in 1989 — just 12 years later — no one either in the region or abroad could deny that Charter 77 and other similar movements had made a profound contribution to those processes. Such organizations contributed to the collapse of the undemocratic regimes in the former Soviet bloc and in the Soviet Union itself, and they provided the cadres for the first post-totalitarian governments in most of those countries.”[13] Vaclav Havel, one of the leading figures behind Charter 77, later led the Velvet Revolution and become the first President of post-Communist Czechoslovakia.

Civic Environment

After Vladimir Lenin’s death in 1924, Joseph Stalin took control of the Soviet Union and oversaw the most brutally totalitarian era of the Soviet system. For 28 years, Stalin exercised absolute political and social control and sentenced millions to death, imprisonment, exile, and the Gulag, a system of forced labor camps maintained by Stalin’s secret police, the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD). The Great Purge (1937-38) targeted suspected opponents in the Communist Party and suspected subversives in Soviet society, including not only intellectuals and religious figures but also peasants and factory workers.

During the Stalinist era, any piece of writing was potentially dangerous and harshly punished. Osip Mandelstam, a Russian poet who recited a poem criticizing Stalin in a small gathering in 1933, spent the next three years in internal exile before dying on his way to a Siberian prison camp. Other writers, such as Isaak Babel and Boris Pilnyak, were condemned to death and shot by the NKVD.[14]

After Stalin died in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev famously condemned the excesses of the Stalin era in his “secret speech” of 1956. Although his tenure was by no means “free”, Khrushchev’s leadership was accompanied by a limited “thaw” that dismantled the Stalin regime’s most extreme tools of repression. The gulag system was largely closed down, the secret police was weakened, and the Soviet Union embarked on new cultural and athletic exchanges with other countries. It was under Khrushchev’s rule that samizdat and magnitizdat became prominent in the Soviet Union, as the production of material not in accordance with official ideology no longer carried a death sentence. The Khrushchev thaw saw the publication of provocative materials like Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and the political rehabilitation of many of Stalin’s former prisoners.

After Khrushchev’s fall from power, his successors sought to roll back the reforms he had instituted and push the Soviet Union back in a more Stalinist direction. Leonid Brezhev’s tenure as Premier, known as the “stagnation period” of the U.S.S.R., took away the limited freedom of expression that Khrushchev had granted to writers and artists in the Soviet republics and, by extension, in Communist Eastern Europe. Though not as brutal as Stalin, authorities in the Eastern Bloc under Brezhnev and successor Yuri Andropov used imprisonment and exile to silence dissidents while rapidly expanding censorship of their work. Up until the time Gorbachev came to power, the Soviet Union developed a massive system of spetskhran, or “restricted access collections,” that included all manner of both Russian-language and foreign works, and denied the Soviet public access to them. The largest such collection, the Lenin State Library, contained more than 1,000,000 items by 1985.[15]

As far as pro-human rights and pro-democracy elements in Soviet society were concerned, then-KGB head Yuri Andropov wrote a memo in 1970 which described them as “opposition movements” supported by “imperialist intelligence services and associated anti-Soviet émigré groups” and assured that they were being dealt with: “The Committee for State Security is taking the requisite measures to terminate the efforts of individuals to use “samizdat” to disseminate slander against the Soviet state and social system. On the basis of existing legislation, they are under criminal prosecution; the people who came under their influence have been subjected to preventive measures.”[16]

Such “prosecution” was incredibly harsh. The Gulag Archipelago caused Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1974. Natalya Gorbanevskaya, a human rights activist who covered rights abuses through the samizdat publication A Chronicle of Current Events, was forced to spend two years in a psychiatric facility in 1969 and was only allowed to leave the country in 1975.[17] In Czechoslovakia, the most prominent members of the Charter 77 movement met with harsh repression from the government, with Jan Patocka dying after a series of lengthy interrogations by Czechoslovak security forces and Vaclav Havel spending much of the 12 years between 1977 and 1989 in prison.

Message and Audience

Because of the strict limitations it existed under, samizdat texts circulated in small numbers and were limited to a few elements of Eastern Bloc societies. Without access to printing presses, writers were limited to the copies they could produce themselves or have reproduced by their readers, who would type additional copies and distribute them by hand to trusted circles of friends. Samizdat, due to the process involved in creating it, took on a very particular appearance and form. Due to the risk of reprisals and inability to publish officially, many samizdat writers used pseudonyms and did not take credit for their work. On the other hand, as individuals were responsible for making their own copies of works they received, many took it upon themselves to make edits, alternations, and omissions in the texts, causing them to change as they moved from person to person.

Even within small circles of dissidents, activists, intellectuals, writers, and artists, underground samizdat publications conveyed a variety of messages and targeted disparate audiences. Journals were often produced by members of a certain subset of society, such as a repressed religious organization or a group of rock music enthusiasts, and addressed issues pertaining to that community.[18] Given the outlet that samizdat provided for the well-established Russian literacy scene, for example, some of the Soviet Union’s greatest literary works were produced as samizdat texts, as underground publishing freed books from the requirement to conform to ideologically approved portrayals of socialism and society. Except for those involved in samizdat, residents of the Soviet Union did not gain access to such books until Gorbachev came to power.

One element of the underground which garnered considerable attention from the KGB and Western observers was the human rights community in the Soviet Union, and one of the most prominent publications it produced was the Chronicle of Current Events, a newsletter dedicated to accurate reporting of human rights violations and written by dissident Natalya Gorbanevskaya and a group of collaborators. The Chronicle, which began every issue with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression…”), published issues regularly from 1968 until 1983.[19] Gorbanevskaya and her collaborators, like the members of Charter 77, did not advocate the overthrow of the regime; such a message would have put them at even greater risk. Despite being labeled as “dissidents,” these activists pushed for the respect of human rights as a moral obligation and the responsibility of the Soviet state, particularly after it ratified the Helsinki accords.[20]

In publicizing trial proceedings and other information kept out of state media, the Chronicle acquired a reputation for strict objectivity and accuracy, despite being continuously retyped by a wide range of people; the central editors of the journal specifically asked their “volunteer publishers” to type additional copies for distribution but to avoid mistakes.[21] Aleksandr Cherkasov, a Russian human rights activist who has compiled all of the Chronicle‘s publications online, explains why its straightforward and objective style put it in sharp contrast with state-run propaganda outlets like Pravda: “There are almost no assessments there, just facts. And this composure, this outwardly serene perception of everything that happens, without hysterics, without emulating those who pressured this independent activity — this was perhaps one of the most important features of the dissident movement in the Soviet Union. Not to emulate the adversary, because otherwise you start resembling him.”[22]

The audience for samizdat included not only those members of their societies that were willing to run the risks of being caught with such material, but also many in the West. Samizdat publications received a great deal of attention from Western activists, human rights and literary organizations, and even intelligence agencies. Samizdat writers took advantage of this attention, sending their work abroad to be published in large quantities and funneled back into the Eastern bloc in a process known as tamizdat, or “published over there”. Gorbanevskaya’s Chronicle of Current Events, for example, was translated into English by Amnesty International and published by that organization until 1984. Works such as The Gulag Archipelago, while unpublished in the Soviet Union, were also translated into English and other languages and found large audiences in the United States and Western Europe.

As a result, when dissidents involved came under harassment from their regimes, those international audiences publicized their plights and pressured Communist authorities on their behalf. While Gorbanevskaya was repeatedly imprisoned in mental institutions, American singer Joan Baez discussed and praised her at her concerts. While Vaclav Havel and his collaborators prepared to submit Charter 77 to the Czechoslovak government, they also arranged for the Charter to appear in major Western newspapers, such as The Times of London, France’s Le Monde, and American newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post soon after.[23] The attention that these works drew to their authors and the issues that they discussed became a source of embarrassment for the Communist regimes and limited the reprisals they could subject the most well-known dissidents to.

Outreach Activities

The considerable attention that samizdat received in the West turned into one of many fronts of the Cold War, with both Russian émigrés and Westerners publishing samizdat writings outside of the Eastern Bloc and even attempting to funnel them back in. Western intelligence agencies allegedly took part in tamizdat, whether by publishing texts themselves or encouraging others to do so. In the context of their rivalry with the Soviets, agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency are claimed to have used samizdat in order to bolster dissident movements inside the Soviet Union, as well as to embarrass the Soviet government internationally. One of the most well-known examples of samizdat, Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, illustrates the interplay between such actors and the effect of samizdat on international diplomacy.

Doctor Zhivago recounts a love story in the context of the Russian Revolution and the early years of the Soviet Union. Pasternak’s stark and unflattering presentation of the revolution and the actors involved, including the Bolsheviks, led the book to be seen by Soviet authorities as criticism of the regime; Foreign Minister Dmitry Shepilov called it “a malicious libel of the USSR”.[24] Despite Khrushchev’s “thaw”, the book was denied publishing. In order to get around this restriction and get his book published, Pasternak worked with a wealthy Italian Communist and publisher, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. Feltrinelli arranged for the manuscript of Doctor Zhivago to be smuggled to Italy, translated into Italian, and then put into print by his publishing company. The KGB and the Italian Communist Party, however, attempted to pressure both Pasternak and Feltrinelli into abandoning the book’s publication, forcing Pasternak to write a letter stating “I am now convinced that what I have written can in no way be considered a finished work… Please be so kind as to return, to my Moscow address, the manuscript of my novel Doctor Zhivago, which is indispensable to my work.”[25]

The Soviet government’s efforts failed, and in a later letter to Feltrinelli, Pasternak expressed his delight that publication had gone ahead: “We shall soon have an Italian Zhivago, French, English, and German Zhivagos – and one day perhaps a geographically distant but Russian Zhivago! And this is a great deal, a very great deal, so let’s do our best and what will be will be!”[26]

Their failure to prevent Doctor Zhivago from going into print was an embarrassment for the Soviet authorities. Pasternak was attacked in the state-run press and placed under increasing economic pressure, while Feltrinelli was expelled from the Italian Communist Party. The novel, however, was such a resounding success in the West that it earned Pasternak a nomination for the Nobel Prize in Literature, a prize for which he had been nominated several times before.[27] In addition to the threat of government reprisals against Pasternak, one major obstacle to awarding him the prize was the fact that the book was not available in its original Russian. In order to ensure that Pasternak won the prize and further embarrassed the regime, the CIA is alleged to have intervened, using subsidiaries in Europe to publish a Russian edition of the book and releasing it a month before the Swedish Academy announced the prize winners.[28] While the CIA has refused to comment and Pasternak’s son denies any such involvement, the Academy ultimately granted the Prize in October 1958 and made him an international celebrity. The government refused to allow the author to travel to Stockholm for the ceremony, threatening him with exile if he left the country.[29] The government also banned David Lean’s 1965 film adaptation of Doctor Zhivago, which nonetheless won international acclaim. Ultimately, Pasternak’s novel, the accolades it garnered, and the Soviet Union’s attempts to sabotage the author and his work did considerable damage to the regime’s reputation abroad at the height of the Cold War.

Stories such as those of Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn, and Gorbanevskaya often fueled a perception of underground publishing in the Soviet Union as political defiance of a totalitarian regime, but the works that made up samizdat included a much more diverse range of reporting, writing, music, and art. While samizdat did not directly lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union, it provided a rare outlet for free expression in a closed society and stood in sharp contrast to state propaganda and misinformation. In the case of writers such as Solzhenitsyn, samizdat shed light on the worst crimes of the Soviet regime and brought them to the attention of a global audience. In Czechoslovakia, on the other hand, the effort involved in the creation of the Charter 77 document by the country’s disparate dissident movements and set the stage for the Velvet Revolution led by Havel. In light of the technology available to activists and writers in the present-day, with the internet, blogosphere, and social media making the dissemination of information easy and its censorship far more difficult, the challenges and the dangers faced by Soviet citizens in communicating freely are a testament to their determination and persistence in overcoming them.



US Christians also face challenges. This is a big one …


From: Colson Center for Christian Worldview []
Sent: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 7:22 AM
Subject: Today’s BreakPoint:  Jack Phillips’s (and Our) Day in Court



DECEMBER 5, 2017
Jack Phillips’s (and Our) Day in Court



Today the Supreme Court hears perhaps the most important free speech and religious freedom case in our lifetime. It’s time to pray and to speak up.

We’ve talked a lot on BreakPoint over the past few months about Christian cake decorator Jack Phillips. Well today, Tuesday December 5, he has his day in court. This morning, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

And John Stonestreet and I are asking you to pray. John, in fact, is outside the Supreme Court today, where he is speaking at a rally for Jack and for our free speech and religious freedom rights.

If you live near DC, you can attend the rally in person from 8 AM ET till noon. If not, please join in virtually at the Facebook page of the Alliance Defending Freedom. We’ll link you to it at

Now the facts of the case are pretty straight forward:

As John has told you, Phillips is an artist who designs master cakes. His business, Masterpiece Cakeshop, is an expression of his faith. So when a same-sex couple asked him to custom design a cake for their same-sex wedding, Jack declined, but he then offered them any cake or other product in the store. For the record, Jack has refused business before. Due to his religious convictions he won’t, for example, design Halloween cakes or cakes that celebrate divorce.

At any rate, the couple was infuriated and hauled Jack before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which fined him and ordered Jack and his employees to go through a “re-education” program.

Jack has since given up custom wedding cakes, a decision that has cost him 40 percent of his business.

Those are the facts. And I cannot overstate the importance of what’s at stake. Will Christian artists, Christian business owners, have the freedom to participate in the public square without abandoning their Christian conviction? Or will the state compel them to use their talents and livelihoods to support that which violates their faith?

Given legal precedents, Sharif Girgis, writing at The Public Discourse, says that despite what you’re hearing in the media, Jack has a strong case.

“For more than seventy years,” Girgis writes, “the Supreme Court has said government can’t force you to say, do, or make something that carries a message you reject.” For example, the Court has ruled that the government can’t compel Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag.

Girgis argues that “[f]orcing Phillips to custom-design and create same-sex wedding cakes is compelled speech: it forces him to create an expressive (artistic) product carrying a message he rejects . . . [and] it does so without serving the type of interest that our constitutional law would consider a legitimate … justification for interfering with anyone’s free speech.”

So, Girgis concludes, “Colorado’s decision violates Phillips’s First Amendment rights.”
Now friends, we must pray that the Supreme Court concludes the same thing. Please, today, right after you hear this broadcast or read the transcript, pray that the Court will uphold Jack’s right to free speech and to practice his faith.

Pray especially for Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Kristin Waggoner, who will be making Jack’s case before the Court. And pray also for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who may very well be the swing vote. He has been a champion of LGBT rights, but he has also ruled against the government compelling speech.

And if you are able, join with John at the prayer rally today by visiting ADF’s Facebook page from 8 AM to 11 AM this morning . . . or join the tweet fest on Twitter by following #JusticeForJack.

And please, share Sharif Girgis’s article with people you know. We will have it for you at

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Thank you for praying.



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Jack Phillips’s (and Our) Day in Court: Freedom of Speech, Religion, at Stake

Read more about the Masterpiece Cakeshop petition and what is at the heart of this freedom of speech case by checking out the resources linked below. And then please pray for wisdom and clarity for our Supreme Court justices as they hear this important case and come to a decision.

Find a BreakPoint radio station in your area–Click here.

Justice for Jack, Facebook page
Alliance Defending Freedom
The Christian Baker’s Unanswered Legal Argument: Why the Strongest Objections Fail
Sherif Girgis | Public Discourse | November 29, 2017
Stop Misrepresenting Masterpiece Cakeshop
David French | National Review | November 30, 2017
The Global Public Square: Religious Freedom and the Making of a World Safe for Diversity
Os Guinness | IVP Books | September 2013
Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom
Ryan Anderson | Regnery Publishing | August 2015




The quote below is from William Provine, well-known evolutionist professor of biology and history of science at Cornell University. Excerpted from his chapter in John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer. 2003. Darwinism, Design, and Public Education. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. pp. 509-511. [Bold print indicates emphasis added.]

In 1999, the Kansas State Board of Education decided to eliminate macroevolution from state exams and gave local school boards the right to decide if macroevolution would be taught in district schools. Evolutionists have a central processing email site, called EvolDir [<>]. Job announcements constitute over 90 percent of the announcements. The Kansas State Board of Education’s decision, however, elicited lots of derisive messages on EvolDir. I sent the following message to the list:

Dear kind members of EvolDir,

The Kansas decision is a gift to the teaching of evolutionary biology. At last we have begun to talk about including all students in high school biology classes, instead of limiting discussion only to naturalistic evolution.

Of the USA population, nearly 50 percent are YE [young Earth] creationists. Of those who do profess belief in evolution by descent, the vast majority believe that God guided the process and that some version of “design theory” is true. Other countries have at least sizeable minorities with similar views. Can it really be our aim to prevent students with such views from participating honestly in the discussion of evolution in high school biology classes? Do we really believe that students can be convinced of evolution while prevented from speaking their concerns about it?

We already have complete control of the evolution content of mainstream high school biology textbooks. Teachers bar most students from honest discussion of evolution in class, with the encouragement of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Center for Science Education (our watchdog), and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The result is that students consider evolution perhaps the most boring subject of the biology class. But the evolution section of the course could be the most exciting, the most fun, and the most stimulating.

“Teaching” creationism or design theory is wholly unnecessary, and perhaps illegal in the USA. Students will raise all their issues related to evolution if invited and not put down. Nothing is illegal about such discussion in the USA and probably elsewhere. Students will never forget the evolution section of the course, and will think about it for years, maybe for a lifetime.

Not much support for my contribution appeared on EvolDir, but some rather negative comments appeared there and others sent privately. Indeed, many evolutionists were appalled by my suggestion, though some were supportive.

In this volume, Eugene Garver gives a cogent argument for not introducing ID [Intelligent Design] or creationism in the evolution class. Perhaps he has taught an evolution class and finds that suppressing most of the students from participating is a good approach. If I thought teaching were as he envisions it, I would instantly give up teaching. Without student participation, introducing their own views and being prepared for intense (but personally supportive) criticism, teaching is vacuous. Imparting knowledge is a bore. Give the students a book.

I have taught evolution everywhere from middle school (for two years) to high school (nine high schools in upstate New York, some every year) to college level, to graduate level, and to adult summer university. In every case, students have greatly enjoyed sharing and criticizing ideas and evidence concerning evolution. Even in a class of 400 or so, weekly sections of no more than 20 give students an opportunity for serious discussion. I think we learn a lot about evolutionary biology, from Darwin to the cutting edge, and have lots of fun doing it. Everyone from every perspective is heartily invited to participate. The goal is not to fill the student’s noggin with what is believed about evolutionary biology now, but to leave the student with an interest in evolution for life. . . .

Allowing all students to participate defuses the explosive possibility of investigating evolution in high school classes. Not one parent of a high school student, over three decades, has objected to this approach. The classes are exciting, and the students and high school teachers send enthusiastic notes of thanks.

Discussing ways to prevent participation of students in any class, while privileging some, is so deeply unfair. Many states have suggestions for keeping creationists from the discussions in biology classes. . . . Viewing half or more of your students as “the enemy” is weird.

Creationists will have to speak louder. I continue to support those who would like to have their voices heard in biology classes. I encourage the effort to limit the teaching of evolutionary biology until such time as evolutionists encourage a more inclusive participation of students. The very idea of the American Civil Liberties Union conspiring with evolutionary biologists to limit the free speech of the majority of the high school students in this country is grotesque.

Will Provine:   1942 – 2015  220px-William_B._Provine,_HSS_2008

Your freedom of speech has already been compromised by Justin Trudeau’s Bill C-16.

And Motion 103 will soon follow into a law of some sort.

And SOGI – type confusing of male- female identity has already taken hold in schools, with no warning for most parents……That would be the parents who gave life to the child.  Parents who pay for all things government.  Parents who sacrifice their own comforts to protect and nurture their children,……Those parents are forcibly being shoved aside as ‘progressives’ determine to take precious Canadian children, in their malleable young years to confuse and re-shape their minds.  Nothing that is right and decent and good will be left to those kids if ‘social justice warriors’ have free rein over our kids. The Soviet Union, as well as many other groups, determined to wrest children from their loving parents, said,…….“Give us a child until he’s seven, and we’ll have him for life.”  But all kids need protection, well beyond the age of seven.  Usurping the role of loving parents is evil.

So now, do you just meekly bow your head and accept the outrage of how C-16 is being used to muzzle Canadians?  This can get worse, so it would be good to grow a backbone now, before there is no strength left in the Canadian public.  We are watching a deliberate unhinging of moral values, that leaves people with no anchor, no plumb-line, rudderless on a ship with godless guides.

Your vote still matters.  Inform yourselves about what your elected officials are doing,…...evidently they do not take the time to inform themselves before they vote mindlessly on motions and bills that are swiftly undermining our democratic freedoms.

Phone and write your Federal MPs and Provincial MLAs, and make your politicians, actually consider you.  They behave like lap-dogs instead of being the thinking, quality and courageous leaders, that they want to portray when they need your vote.  Don’t accept all the foolish and harmful stuff pouring out of Ottawa, not even when they’ve hastened to make laws that will certainly break us if we don’t take a stand.  Your labour provides their money all the way.

It is never to late to stand against bad things. When intruders enter your home, you don’t say, “Oh dear, I guess it’s too late to stop them from their evil intentions, since they’ve already gained entrance.”  No,….. you do whatever you can to protect your family, yourself and your home.  It is never too late to fight evil intentions.

Time to wake up from your siesta Canada.  The politicians that mindlessly vote for anything stuck in front of their faces can, and need to be told, by you their employers to read, process, analyze, consult with their constituents and not just follow the pied-piper to the ruin of our nation.  Law-makers can be encouraged to amend or even discard bad laws.

Our government presumes to pronounce on the nature of human beings, while it can’t even keep control of something that is it’s actual role, which is the tax system.

ROY GREEN:  Interviews Dr. Jordan Peterson and Lindsay Shepherd, on CKNW.

12 PM – November 25/17     One hour long audio.   Available for TEN DAYSmaxresdefault.

Ayn Rand was born in 1905 and spent her life promoting the individual, the need to seek truth and think clearly.  She rejected all religion and declared God did not exist.  In 1982 she met Him.

Ayn Rand was wrong about the existence of God, but right in her message that people had to fight against state control of their minds.  The collectivist mind brings about a deadening of our souls, strips our lives of ultimate meaning.

That is at the heart of Motion 103, that seeks to make it a crime to speak against Islam, though there clearly are times when criticism is valid.  It would be absurd to make a motion forbidding criticism of Christians, or Dutchmen.  No individual or group can be exempt from scrutiny, but the Trudeau government marches relentlessly on toward a silencing of critical analysis.

The government passed Bill 16 :  

That Bill is vague, dangerously so, and professor Jordan Peterson states he has no intention of addressing people by their preferred pronoun, (the number of personal pronouns is steadily rising, and now said to be hitting 50). This stand against forced speech has professor Peterson in some hot water.

SOGI: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, is a program, swiftly brought into schools, with virtually no consultation. Parents, and even teachers are only slowly growing aware of this radical social engineering.  Embedded throughout this program is the intent to keep parents in the dark about their own precious kids while radical sexual educators work to alter the child’s view of what is normal or right.  Certainly the moral values of the parents are shunted aside in this agenda.

Government intrusion into the moral values of Canadians is coming fast and furious.  Elected officials who might once have possessed a backbone, can’t seem to stand against some of the excesses of the state.  The most courage some muster is abstention, so no opposition is even on record. How terribly brave of ‘leaders’, like Laurie Throness to sit meekly and abstain, while all the other MLAs behaved like trained seals on SOGI.  Hardly a leader anywhere to be found. Maybe Mr. Throness should read his Bible more often, so he can remember, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”  –  Proverbs

We need more godly men, to stand on God’s word, because all earthly governments are comprised of fallible human beings. All the kingdoms of this world pass away, but we individuals live eternally, either in heaven, or hell, and Jesus offers Heaven to all who believe in Him.

The state, our government, seems bent on muzzling moral objectors.  I don’t believe this is really about Muslims or LGBTQ+, or the colour of anyone’s skin, or place of origin.  This is an effective means of achieving totalitarian control, whether the bit players recognize that ultimate aim, or not.  It’s been done before, but oddly those who claim to be progressive and clever, are the stooges of state control.  You have to destroy personal freedom and independent thought in order to wield absolute power.  North Korea is only the worst present-day example, but history is replete with  stories of life for people under the iron grip of a few.

In the dystopian world depicted in Ayn Rand’s ‘Anthem‘ individualism is strictly forbidden, and punished by the state. Her main character says, “Our name is Equality 7 – 2521, as it is written on the iron bracelet which all men wear on their left wrists with their names upon it .  We are twenty-one years old.  We are six feet tall.”

Dr. Mary Bryson,  professor in language and literacy in the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, at UBC wants to be addressed as ‘they‘.  She wants compliance with the absurd demand that teachers address students by their preferred pronouns.  Wasn’t it hard enough, and good enough, for teachers to remember just the ‘names‘ of everyone in their classrooms?  Just address gender-sensitive people by their real name, or simply the universal ‘you‘.  Insisting compliance with something you personally don’t agree with is not only absurd but tyrannical.

Equality 7 – 2521 goes on to say, “We strive to be like our brother men, for all men must be alike.  Over the portals of the Palace of the World Council, there are words cut in the marble, which we repeat to ourselves whenever we are tempted: …….. “There are no men but only the great WE.”

“We are nothing.  Mankind is all.  By the grace of our brothers are we allowed our lives.  We exist through, by and for our brothers who are the State. Amen.”

“There is fear hanging in the air of the sleeping halls, and in the air of the streets.  Fear walks through the City, fear without name, without shape.  All men feel it and none dare to speak.”

And there is a growing fear in Canada.  Ordinary people, politicians, preachers,……all seem paralyzed to state the obvious:  That this world of design beyond our comprehension, clearly had a powerful Designer.  That the Bible is His revelation to the people He created in His own image.  That He wrote the manual by which we should live.  That we human beings have two distinct sexes, male and female.  That those distinct male and female bodies were amazingly designed to complement each other and bring future generations into life.  All this must now be blurred into a spectrum of beings, by order of the state.

Once clear truths are coming under attack.  To say those obvious truths might subject you to hatred and vile insults. The government is right to make laws that protect everyone, but under the pretence of protecting minority groups the majority are having their rights and freedoms stripped away. Gag laws on free speech erodes the foundation of a democratic society. Common sense and the pursuit of godliness and truth are becoming more challenging in the once-free West.

Ayn Rand says:  “Those who want slavery should have the grace to name it by its proper name.  They must face the full meaning of that which they are advocating or condoning; the full, exact, specific meaning of collectivism, of its logical implications, of the principles upon which it is based, and of the ultimate consequences to which these principles will lead.”

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done: and there is nothing new under the sun.”   –  Ecclesiastes