Shut Him Down?

Celebrity psychologist Jordan Peterson is coming to Ottawa on a lecture tour and a coalition of community groups want to see him banned from the city instead. They don’t like his message.

Peterson rose to prominence in 2016 when he made headlines over his refusal to blow with the prevailing winds and use preferred pronouns rather than traditional ones in interactions with his students at the University of Toronto. He made further headlines when a teaching assistant at Wilfred Laurier University was disciplined by the university for using a video clip of Peterson in class discussion.

Peterson has parlayed the notoriety into a could of bestselling self-help books. I tried to read the first one, 12 Rules For Life, but got bored after a couple of chapters. I guess I didn’t need the help.

Peterson has evolved from a psychologist into kind of a public intellectual of sorts. That means he comments on things outside his area of expertise – and people seem to accept him as an authority. He has become somewhat of a right wing darling for some of his comments and positions.

At times I find he can be a little offensive. I suspect that is deliberate to generate controvery and publicity – you can be pointed without being crude. When he crosses the line I tune him out. Come to think of it, even when he isn’t crude I usually tune him out.

But tuning Peterson out isn’t enough for some people. They want to see him banned.

Times have changed. It used to be the people on the political “right” that wanted to ban things and people. Now it is those on the “left,” self-styled progressives that want to restrict the ideas people are exposed to. That Peterson has frequently criticized the Prime Minister. The groups opposed to his appearance in Ottawa have received milllions of dollars in funding from the federal government. That is just a coincidence, right?

The funny thing is, it isn’t as if Peterson ‘s message is going to be heard by those who don’t want to hear it. His presentation is a ticketed event. The cheap seats are $75. The good seats will set you back a few hundred.

That thousands of people are willing to pay that much and more is a tribute to either Peterson’s personal charisma or the message he presents. Either way, he has a right to speak.

They call it cancel culture, a form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles. (There is also an attempt to revoke Peterson’s psychology credentials.) This is an attempt to stifle a message some people don’t agree with. A message that breaks no laws.

Those accusing Peterson of hateful comments seem somewhat confused by the definition of hate. Something I disagree with is not automatically hateful. In a free society we are still allowed to hold differing views – even distasteful ones.

Peterson may not be in favor of language changes that make no sense to him, but that is not hateful. It’s something that perhaps could and should be debated. For example, do we want to make changes to our language, to the way we describe gender. Is there sufficient reason to do so?

As a society we haven’t had that discussion. Someone has decided that it is too hurtful to question whether gender is fluid or rigid, and what is the r4elationship between sex and gender. We can talk about it, but only if we accept a certain viewpoint.

Jordan Peterson has challenged that. Of course they want to shut him down.

6 comments

  1. Peterson was against the proposed Bill C-16, which would make it illegal for individuals to use any pronoun besides the preferred pronoun when referring to transgender individuals.
    “I don’t care what people want to be called,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean I should be compelled by law to call them that.”

    1. I suppose these days that constitutes hate speech.

      1. InseasoNout · ·

        The west call ourselves the “free world” and other countries “totalitarian “, how are we different if we equate “free speech” with “hate speech”,? anyone who doesn’t agree with the mainstream views *can be* considered ‘hateful’ or unlawful (Bill C-16).

        We say totalitarian countries only have state sanctioned media, but don’t we have the same? Our main stream media has only one narrative, any opposing views are not presented in a fair manner, if at all. In what way are we really ‘free’?

        In Christ, we are free to speak the truth in love. That may get us in trouble one day.

  2. InseasoNout · · Reply

    A few years ago, I was interested in finding out about the person who caused the vitriolic response when JP was to give a lecture at the National Gallery of Canada. Ever since then, I listened to numerous of his lectures just to see ‘what’s wrong with what he said’. I haven’t yet found any.

    I disagree with some of his opinions and perspectives but nothing i deemed ‘hateful’ as some would call it. I am still looking. I understand he called our prime minister ‘a prick’ at the Joe Rogan interview. If true, I am sure Mr. Trudeau has been called worse (not by me).

    I respect that JP loves his wife and his family. He has a loving relationship with his children and grandchildren. He seems to genuinely care for those he aims to help. He has a sharp mind and tongue but I think he is fair within his own personal views. For someone who has given thousands of hours of lectures, interviews and podcasts, if the College can only find fault in some petty references that are ‘offensive’, I dare anyone to stand up to that scrutiny.

    Just because I disagree with or even dislike someone, it is not sufficient reason to shut them down. How boring would the world be if everyone thinks like me and agrees with me.

    I think the threat of JP is his popularity. In a free society, worthy opponents should challenge him or stand up to him not to shut him down.

    1. Some people are so certain in their beliefs they think it is harmful to be exposed to anything contrary. So in the name of “good” they try to silence those with differing views.

  3. You tell ’em, bro!

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