Jordan Peterson and the Death of the Public Intellectual

Jordan Peterson and the Death of the Public Intellectual March 20, 2018

Jordan Peterson may be a joke, but the joke’s on us.

Canadian psychologist, self-help author and YouTube sensation Jordan Peterson is a celebrity, but is he a public intellectual? Nathan J. Robinson, the editor of Current Affairs magazine, emphatically responds in the negative:

If Jordan Peterson is the most influential intellectual in the Western world, the Western world has lost its damn mind. And since Jordan Peterson does indeed have a good claim to being the most influential intellectual in the Western world, we need to think seriously about what has gone wrong. What have we done to end up with this man? His success is our failure, and while it’s easy to scoff at him, it’s more important to inquire into how we got to this point. He is a symptom. He shows a culture bereft of ideas, a politics without inspiration or principle. Jordan Peterson may not be the intellectual we want. But he is probably the intellectual we deserve.

How did we get to this sorry state of events? Throughout the 1970s in the West, public intellectuals were thick on the ground: venerable philosophers like Russell, Sartre and De Beauvoir, sociologists such as Foucault, cultural historians like Robert Hughes, critics like Susan Sontag and Clive James, scientists like Stephen Jay Gould, and so on down the line. These were people dedicated to “the life of the mind,” the notion that knowledge is something worthwhile that gives us perspective on history and society. They were knowledgeable about history, art, literature, science and philosophy.

Now, in the age of Twitter and books that analyze the “philosophy” of TV shows, we have pundits, polemicists, and parodists aplenty. But what about the intellectuals?

The Post-Everything Society

Many have surmised that the public intellectual is an endangered species because of the rate at which our knowledge has expanded, and that’s probably a relevant aspect of the problem. It’s also true that in the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate era, Americans became disillusioned and embraced escapism rather than engagement. Decades of Reaganite cynicism and neoliberal shakedowns have left us with a culture where the life of the market is more important than the life of the mind. Every generation seems to have lower expectations than the last.

Peterson’s appeal, after all, is that he panders to the prejudices of his audience rather than challenging them. He initially achieved fame through a YouTube video where he was telling a trans student that he refused to use gender-neutral pronouns. He reviles student activists, asserting over and over that “the philosophy that drives their utterances is the same philosophy that already has driven us to the deaths of millions of people.” It seems that he has a ready audience of people who are only too willing to believe that political engagement is futile, that the inequities of modern society are inevitable, and that to “Sort yourself out, Bucko,” all you need to do is stop feeling guilty about your privilege and indifference.

There’s An App For That

Our technology allows us unprecedented access to ideas and information. We can order books and have them delivered to us, or read them digitally for next to nothing in the way of cost or effort. So why aren’t we enriching our minds with this technology rather than distracting ourselves with it?

Perhaps the amount of gadgetry we now use makes it harder for us to relate to knowledge like people did in the past; in lieu of democratizing our institutions, we’ve just learned to dismiss anyone who criticizes video games and online debates as an elitist. Online echo chambers provide us with factoids and jargon for defending our viewpoints against our digital foes, but they don’t provide us with a coherent understanding of world events. It could be that our online activities leave less time for reading and serious critical thinking than we enjoyed before we were glutted with devices.

If people read a lot more than they do, I submit that a writer like Peterson would hold less appeal for them. If they read more about psychology and folklore, they’d realize that Peterson’s work is a stale rehash of Jung and Joseph Campbell. If they had read Orwell, they’d realize that Peterson is wrong to suggest that Orwell had repudiated socialism. If they had read postmodern philosophy, they’d see through Peterson’s tendentious interpretations of what the pomos were saying.

Decadence for Dummies

Am I wrong about Jordan Peterson? Who are the proper public intellectuals for our not-so-new millennium? Is anyone providing a compelling, comprehensive vision for us that demands our full mental and political engagement? And if so, why aren’t they YouTube sensations?

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  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    As I read this, I had to ask myself how much Peterson you have exposed yourself to? I’ve listened to his entire biblical series, watched many of his Patreon Q&As, I’ve looked for interviews, waiting to see him slip up. I have loved Jung even before I could conceive of my shadow self, Orwell has made me weep, Manly P. Hall has transformed the way I love my loved ones. I have gobbled up and cherry picked my own brand of philosophy. Peterson is truthful and I suspect that’s the reason he is feared. Don’t fear people who can change your perspective. Appreciate them.

  • Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. It’s just that I see something less than truthfulness in the way he equates identity politics with totalitarian genocide. In every video I’ve ever watched of the guy’s speeches or interviews, he makes the point that the “ideology” that motivates trans activists, for instance, is the same one that led to millions of deaths in the USSR and China. Do you think Peterson is being fair with that kind of scaremongering?

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    I think if a person is inclined to throw fascist, racist or Nazi as appropriate discord at people who disagree with them, even suggesting we should punch them in the face for saying things we don’t agree with, or, trying to shut down free speech for the sake of not offending, then yes, I agree with Peterson’s assessment. We can’t allow, for example, the government to regulate our speech and we do not need insults to replace debate. The man is clearly well educated in not just the history of socialism and fascism, but the psychology behind the motivation. The view point of anyone with that perspective is valuble. If you don’t agree, then debate. Fear mongering can come from both sides.

  • I’ve read a couple of comments from Europeans, including one from the UK, that Peterson is still pretty much unknown across the Atlantic, so for the moment he’s a primarily North American nuisance. I suspect even the Quebec media probably pays less attention to him, although I don’t watch enough these days to be sure.

  • Nick G

    So, according to you, the people who have totalitarian ideologies are not the Nazis and their apologists, but those who oppose them. The display of Nazi symbols, as happens routinely in events involving, for example, Richard Spencer, is a deliberate and conscious threat to resume the Nazi programme of exterminating leftists, liberals, diasabled people, LGBTI+ people, Roma, any other minorities they despise, and above all, Jews. It is also a deliberate, conscious effort to intimidate their opponents into silence. But the people you – and Peterson – choose to wag your finger at, are those who decide this form of “free speech” should not be tolerated.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    Spencer is a twat. Anyone who wants to say their group is better than other groups are twats. I have no interest in supporting what people like him have to say. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to speak. Have their idiocy vocal and open. Let us see who the assholes are. There are real Nazis. Don’t drive them underground. As a Jewish person, I want to hear exactly what they have to say. I don’t want them hiding and talking in secret. I want the world to hear the nonsense they spew so we can remember how all of this happened before. Also, I don’t want to wag my finger at people who disagree or silence them either. I would like to tell them that they are not victims. They are special beyond what they can even imagine because of the potential they carry. The sooner they shed their margins and treat themselves as individuals, the sooner they can start making real, helpful change in the world.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    Do you think the millions of online views are mostly North America? I’m not being snarky, I’m just curious!

  • Bill Blond

    Can you please explain what you understand as “the ideology that led to the millions of deaths in the USSR”? In your mind, what led to the millions of deaths under Lenin, Stalin? I’m not trying to debate you, I really want to know and understand what you think that means.

    It’s clear from your comment, if I’m understanding you correctly (and I want to), that trans activists are not motivated by an ideology, period, and certainly not the same ideology as the former USSR. Fair enough. So then could you explain your views on what DID lead to the millions of deaths under Lenin and Stalin (and to be clear, under the Nazis, which Peterson places in the same category of Lenin, Stalin)?

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    If we can look for a minute to the idea that people who are marginalized must be protected, than we can understand the thinking behind the horrors we saw in those regimes. If someone is not included in our group AND our group is being oppressed, then the excluded people will inevitably become the oppressors because they are the other. This is a fundamental of both fascist and socialist thinking. The cure for that has to be support and encouragemnet for the individual.

  • Patrick Marino

    So, when someone’s opinion differs from yours, you just take him down? That’s where we’re at. Peterson is well studied, successful, and nuanced in his opinions. That is, he was all of these things well prior to celebrity. He was a super popular professor at Harvard, with students documenting that his lectures were life changing. But now that he’s popular, he’s a Nazi and fascist. Basically, this type of nonsense is why Peterson is popular. Identity politics: what have they produced? Trump? Black Lives Matter? Good thing we have identity politics. I love the quote from a 20 year old being the basis for the article too…I’ll end with an example. Just watch the video of Peterson at McMaster being heckled by activists and watch the behavior of the activists. What happens when you compel language OR make it out so that certain language is the SAME thing as violence? Well, that appears clear. You are justified to act like an idiot. So as much as you or I may feel the idea of identity politics leading to communist genocide may be, just look at the actual examples. People voting and having opinions shut down, or feeling compelled to punch whomever they refer to as a Nazi. This is the road. I think people like Peterson are things that make me hopeful. More than Peterson, his popularity.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    Exactly. I am almost as interested in the attention, good and bad, that he gets as i am with his content. More power to him.

  • Bill Blond

    I think I understand what your view is, but I wonder what the OP (Shem the Penman) is saying. For the sake of understanding him, I’m granting him what he’s arguing (instead of saying, “but you’re wrong because XYZ”–I’m not interested in fighting him), in the hopes to understand what he thinks. In other words:
    If the current progressive and leftist movements in politics are NOT like the former USSR ideology, then what WAS the former USSR ideology?

  • I never called Peterson or anyone else a Nazi, or advocated punching anyone. Please engage with the OP or play elsewhere.

  • Jim Jones

    Thank goodness we still have the wisdom of the Kardashians.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    I think we are on the same page. You would have to ask him that question, I would want to put words in his mouth.

  • Bill Blond

    @shemthepenman:disqus, I really want to understand your thinking. You say trans activists are not motivated by the same ideology as the former USSR, okay, I will grant you that. But if the current progressive and leftist movements in politics are NOT like the former USSR ideology, then what WAS the former USSR ideology?

  • Patrick Marino

    The article says this: He reviles student activists, asserting over and over that “the philosophy that drives their utterances is the same philosophy that already has driven us to the deaths of millions of people.”

    And you don’t understand it. That’s the point. You just swing around quotes and phrases. No substance. I know it’s a blog, but you aren’t making an argument. You just say that what Peterson says “panders to the prejudices of his audience.”

    But NONE OF THAT SHOULD matter, nor has it mattered. If what he says is right, it shouldn’t matter who that idea supports. Science and fact are immoral, but they should be held to scrutiny. Throughout human history we’ve been wrong way more often than right. Peterson tries to figure out what we’ve gotten right and why. It’s okay to disagree. But if he’s using good arguments, and is eventually proven right, then what is YOUR argument? The Shepperd incident and others that are going on right now in Canada all basically just endorse Peterson. He has the right to say ‘I was right.’ It does no good to continue to say, we’ll Peterson is wrong because all he’s doing is getting supported by white nationalists. What should be said is Peterson is RIGHT and has been proven right, what does that say about our society and what should we do?

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    That is a question for him. Let’s not put words in his mouth.

  • I don’t think you can blame any “ideology” for the death toll in the USSR, it was the paranoia and power madness of their tyrannical leaders. Trans people, on the other hand, merely want respect and inclusion in society.

    Do you think that the problem in the USSR was that there was just way too much respect and inclusiveness?

  • Bill Blond

    I tried to post it more directly to him. Sorry, I’ve never used Disqus.

  • I just can’t see why pushy students getting speaking engagements cancelled on their campuses deserves to be compared to mass graves in the Ukraine, by anyone who claims to be living in the same reality as the rest of us.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    So are you saying if someone with more pure intent had been at the helm, those atrocities wouldn’t have happened?

  • Bill Blond

    What exactly was that “paranoia and power madness”? What were the Soviets paranoid about and what is “power madness”?

    Are you arguing that Lenin started the Russian Revolution without an ideology? If what you’re saying is true, what started the Russian Revolution then?

    I am extremely curious about your thoughts on this, and I will also ask what you mean by “too much respect and inclusiveness.” I don’t know exactly what that is referring to.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    Because people have to be free to speak. Period. If the students want the right to speak, they need to allow the same for others. Otherwise you end up with totalitarian driven agreement.

  • Bill Blond

    I am so curious about his answer to this, @lindsey_zimmerman:disqus. It seems to me, based on him saying we can’t blame an ideology for the USSR death toll, that somehow those deaths were a fluke or not predictable in some way. I’m really interested to know what he will say.

    On a side note, since I’ve stopped just attacking and trying to beat someone in a debate, these kinds of conversations have taken on a new life and purpose to me, because as hard as it is for me to articulate my view, it’s just as hard to understand someone else’s, and it’s fun to figure out what someone is thinking through inquiry, you know? Like, I’m not concerned about winning against @shemthepenman:disqus here. I really just don’t understand why he thinks the way he does, and I sincerely want to understand.

  • Patrick Marino

    I think you can accurately state there may be some exaggeration, but there is no exaggeration of the power of an ill informed and ill educated mob, that is supported by people who are too scared to speak up. This is how revolutions happen. And if that revolution involves the shut down of speech that is at least reasonable and well thought out, then we all have something to be afraid of as humans. If he exaggerates, and doesn’t lie, to make his point, to scare the ever living crap out of his readers/listeners, then so be it. The points have to be heard and understood. I also think this is a shallow understanding of Peterson. Peterson’s understanding of Orwell and Jung and others isn’t as superficial as it’s made out to be. I mean, you have entire courses based on single publications written by people like this. So one paragraph isn’t going to be enough. This is why he’s such a popular professor, is he does drill into his understanding of each topic and why each interpretation is held, and why he has his own interpretation. It’s cliche to say, but I don’t think you’ve really dug in enough. It’s easy to be misinterpreted in a chapter or paragraph of a chapter, when the book isn’t intended to be a full accounting.

  • Bill Blond

    I agree with what you’re saying, but I think you are more debating here and the terms of the debate are not clear.
    Like, if they think Peterson is in the category of sensationalist and ill-informed and ignorant, then clearly, their understanding of Peterson is different than yours or mine, you know?

    So my idea is let’s approach this from a listening perspective. Maybe @shemthepenman:disqus knows something we don’t (Rule #9: Assume the person you are listening to knows something you don’t).

    It seems to me, but I’m not sure, that he thinks Peterson is saying all trans activists are doing is seeking equality and respect, and so if that is what he believes, then I can see why the comparison to the ideology of the USSR is brutish and over-the-top, you know? Let’s grant him that. No need in bickering over something back and forth.

    So I think it’s better we come to a mutual understanding about what the hell happened in the Russian Revolution and the death toll in the USSR. He says we can’t blame that on an “ideology” so I’m very curious about what he thinks we CAN blame it on… like, how do millions of deaths like that happen if not ideologically motivated.

  • Patrick Marino

    Are you Jordan Peterson in disguise?

    I think you’re giving Shem too much credit. He starts the article with ‘Jordan Peterson may be a joke,’ and he’s clearly just out of school, or maybe still in school, so I’m concluding that he’s just writing the way anybody out of school would write.

    I don’t have the luxury of a debate. I’m just going to offer to Shem that he’s making all the wrong moves and giving Peterson all the points. And unfortunately for Shem, they’re these terrible misinterpretations are the true dog whistles.

  • b33bl3br0x

    So, according to you, the people who have totalitarian ideologies are
    not the Nazis and their apologists, but those who oppose them.

    Why is it an either/or proposition? If in opposition to a totalitarian ideology, one adopts totalitarian tactics, then that one has embraced a totalitarian ideology.

    It seems that when someone recognizes fascist like tendencies (violent suppression of distasteful speech for example) emerging in the left, the knee-jerk reaction is to assume that the commentary is therefore excusing or accepting the views that are being opposed. Why? I think that Spencer’s, for example, ideas are so odious that I would love it if no one even bothered listening to him; however, I think that the best way to win a war of ideas with him and his ilk does not include punching him in the mouth so he can’t talk.

    If you have to resort to fascism to ‘defeat’ fascists, is that victory worth having?

    (Note, I don’t know enough about Peterson to make a claim as to his motivations in this, or to say whether he’s right or wrong)

  • Bill Blond

    Maybe I’m giving him too much credit, but maybe not, but I know certainly that if we don’t agree on the terms of this discussion, we won’t get anywhere, and if we’re not concerned about listening (and showing that we’re listening), then we’re just as much in danger of ideological possession.

    I think you’re right. White supremacists know Peterson is not one of them with how much he criticizes the Nazi regime, Hitler, and identity politics, and how much Peterson says the way forward is not the path of bitterness, resentment, and revenge, which sadly the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of white supremacists: “Poor me, I’m oppressed by women and gays and black people, that’s why I have no job, that’s why I have no power in life… they must be stopped!” That kind of thinking is so fueled by bitterness, resentment, and revenge, and it’s incredibly sad.

    I think you’re right about the dog whistles, though–it isn’t Peterson’s ideas, it’s the fact that Peterson is not even a white nationalist, and what he’s saying isn’t all that extreme, but leftists grossly twist and misinterpret him, so it just feeds the conspiracy that they put forward that liberal women and minorities are trying to stifle and control things.

    The crazier the protestors act, the more it justifies entrenched people’s thinking.

  • Bill Blond

    Do you understand what I’m asking?

  • I didn’t say that Lenin or the Bolsheviks didn’t have an ideology. I’m just disputing that there’s anything about common control of the means of production that inexorably leads to mass murder. The death toll in the USSR was due to plain old power struggles, not the working out of economic or philosophical differences.

    I could just as easily point to the death toll produced by US aggression —of indigenous peoples in North America; Filipinos after the Spanish American War, or Japanese in 1945— and conclude that the “ideology of democracy” led inevitably to all this slaughter. And that wouldn’t be fair either, but it at least makes it clear that mass murder isn’t something that the Bolsheviks and Maoists invented.

  • Bill Blond

    Okay, so war and imperialism are old, old things, as you point out, but they fit the model of a state with its own interests going out and destroying people or groups that are NOT part of the state to preserve those interests.

    Are you saying the Americans fighting in WWII against Japan is the same kind of action as a country killing millions of ITS OWN citizens?

  • Gutsav0

    (Repost because I thought I had put it in the wrong place, but:) That we can blame the death toll in Mao’s China and Stalin’s Russia on an ideology is precisely what Jordan Peterson is saying.
    His point is clear: the ideology behind trans (etc.) activists is the same ideology which has already been shown to be so deadly in Maoist China and Stalinist USSR. That group identity is the most important way of defining a person. You are with us, comrade, or you are not. You are part of the collective, or you are the enemy of the state. If anyone who possesses such a bad idea (group identity is paramount) is elevated to a state of power, bad things will happen. Demonstrated, and proven. Watered down identity politics in Canada in 2018 is still a bad idea. Not deadly. But intellectually merciless. You are with us, or against us. You believe in equality as we define it, or you are the enemy. You agree to the whole bag of beliefs we hold to be true, or you are an obstacle.
    Peterson argues that the unit of civilization is not the tribe but the individual. That is what a nation of laws, and rights, and obligations must protect.
    Nathan Robinson’s article gets Peterson wrong on almost every point. His somewhat precious style reads, to me, like a precocious child poking a lobster in a tank with its claws taped. On the George Orwell point, he is correct that Orwell supported socialism but Peterson is also correct that there is a clear dislike of the unwashed masses running through the many of the upper class socialists of Britain.

  • Bill Blond

    @shemthepenman:disqus, even in the most reprehensible case of the genocide of indigenous peoples in North America, that is a clear cut example of one country/government/state making war with another country/government/state to preserve its own interests–clearly, post-1776 Americans did not view Natives as their countrymen or their own fellow citizens, and you’d be hard-pressed to prove otherwise (Natives didn’t get US citizenship until 1924).

    What happened in the USSR was the government systematically killing its own citizens in the millions, and not just at the level of a revolution, you know. Sure, there have been revolutions and civil wars, but the 20th Century is something very different. Post-revolution, the totalitarian state continued to kill its fellow citizens in the tens of millions.

    What can account for this? What level of thinking produces a system that kills its own citizens?

  • Hey, instead of going all Cathy Newman on me, why don’t you read what I’m writing here?

    All I said in the OP, and all I’m saying, is that it’s one thing to deplore mass murder. But it’s quite another thing to use mass murder in the Soviet Union to impugn trans activists and feminists. Apparently you can’t understand the distinction I’m making.

  • Bill Blond

    Your Cathy Newman joke is very clever. Sorry for saying, “are you saying?” 🙂

    You said, “I could just as easily point to the death toll produced by US aggression” but all of the examples are forms of aggression that have existed for thousands of years of documented human history.

    Do you agree that what happened in the USSR is unique?

  • chemical

    The article Shem linked to isn’t trying to take him down because he’s conservative, is trying to take him down because he passes himself off as an intellectual, even though he defends his ideas poorly and doesn’t offer any profound insights.

    Peterson reminds me a lot of Deepak Chopra. Chopra has a remarkable ability to spout of a bunch of gibberish about quantum mechanics and sound profound while doing so. But if you filter out all the bullshit, unsubstantiated claims, and lies out of any Chopra speech, you will be left with absolutely nothing.

    With Peterson, that’s not true, but it’s close. You could probably distill an hour long Peterson speech down to a minute, and when you do, the idea is as profound as 2+2=4. He also is better at avoiding criticism than Chopra, by being purposely vague, or claiming you have to be perfect before criticizing his ideas.

  • Bill, I believe I stated in plain enough English what I’m saying here. I’m not disputing the death toll in the USSR, nor am I disputing that the death toll was horrific.

    What I’m disputing is that the death toll in the USSR has anything to do with trans activists, feminists, or postmodernists.

  • Bill Blond

    @shemthepenman:disqus , I understand what you are saying, and I think I can accurately paraphrase you: It is wrong to attack trans activists and feminists by insultingly comparing them to the USSR. I think that’s what you mean.

    So my question for you is what the heck happened in the USSR then?

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    I wonder if perhaps that connection was never made in his mind? Also, saying the ideology is the same is not equal to saying trans people are murderers?

  • Bill Blond

    Let’s not talk about activists, feminists, or postmodernists. That isn’t the issue here.

    The issue is do you and I both have the same understanding of what motivated the USSR to kill its own citizens. You responded by saying, “well, American aggression killed a lot of people too.” Fair enough, but there is a very important difference between what America (and any other imperialism for that matter) did and what USSR did. Do you agree there is a difference there?

  • chemical

    The kind of thinking like “This is the way is going to be, and if you don’t like it, I’ll put you six feet under.” Totalitarianism.

  • Bill, what I meant about the USA’s atrocities is that I could just as easily claim it was caused by some ideology I didn’t like, and use it to smear by association activists whose ideas I don’t like.

    I submit that Peterson’s constant harping on the death toll in the USSR is to convince people like you that feminism and trans activism could lead to the same result.

  • Bill Blond

    I never said you were disputing the death toll in the USSR or that you were not saying it’s horrific, but my claim is there is something more horrific about the death toll than the number. It’s a lot of people that died, but that’s not the horrible part. To me, it’s more horrific WHY they died than HOW MANY died, if that makes sense.

    So for you to say it has nothing to do with it, then it would behoove you to demonstrate how and why the USSR killed so many people, and THEN you can make the connection to trans activists, feminists, or postmodernists, and say, “See? Not the same.”

    So far, you’ve articulated clearly that trans activists, feminists, or postmodernists just want respect and equality. Good, that part is clear, but what is your understanding of the USSR?

  • Bill Blond

    I think this conversation reveals how complicated this discussion is. If it’s “smearing by association,” well then break the association.

    It’s NOT about the death toll, it’s about WHAT DROVE the death toll. That is the key here. Do you understand me? I’ve tried my best to paraphrase you and I would invite you to paraphrase what I’m saying here because I’m not sure my point is clear.

    The USA’s atrocities are not new–imperialism is very, very old, and countries have exterminated OTHER countries for a long, long time.

  • chemical

    Not that I’m an expert on Russian history, but Stalin is the kind of guy that didn’t tolerate any kind of criticism. Opposing him was equated with treason. That’s the kind of thinking that led to the USSR’s infamous body count.

  • Patrick Marino

    I read the article, and I also listened to the author on a podcast yesterday. My point isn’t that Peterson is being taken down as an intellectual. He is, by any reasonable definition, an intellectual, educated, highly cited. He uses a variety of different sources and is in better command of complicated subjects than you are giving him credit for. I also think that he’s a lot more humble than either you, or these authors are giving him credit for. He didn’t ask for this position of ‘authority.’ He started writing this book way before he got famous, and I don’t believe for a minute that it was all planned or some grand conspiracy. He’s of his moment, he’s not in charge of it. I also think saying that he’s flat out ‘wrong’ on many things is unfair because in most cases he’s making an interpretation based on the scientific observations of others, but he will take time if asked to defend those positions. His main area of expertise is psychoanalysis, and as he is widely cited, his ideas on motivation should be the things he’s questioned about the least, not his fascination with maybe not entirely thorough metaphors using lobsters. His ability to resonate with people who aren’t experts, like young people or just people out there in the world who don’t also lecture at universities must infuriate those people who feel they’re smarter than he is. To Peterson’s credit, he always has been on the side of helping people, and it’s a thread that has been there through out his rise out of humble beginnings, posting ipad videos of lectures onto Youtube. Of course he’d also probably tell you that he’s not allowed to hold a ‘humble’ card because he taught at Harvard. But his ability to get to 2+2=4 in these times of infinite pronouns and gender spectrums is welcome, and needed in our climate, to help people make sense of the climate, and to advise on a way out.

  • Bill Blond

    Right, I think that is what sparks outrage is people going, “[GASP!] I can’t believe Jordan Peterson is saying trans activists, feminists, or postmodernists want to commit mass murder.”

    He isn’t saying that. I think some people, and I’m NOT saying this is what @shemthepenman:disqus is doing, but some people like to malign and name call and make bad associations in order to make ad hominem attacks, so they project that onto Peterson and say, “Oh, well, his goal is to insult trans activists, feminists, or postmodernists. OMG, he just compared them to mass murderers. So insulting!” It’s like, well, if you assume bad intent by someone, then it’s very easy to interpret it that way, but it’s not charitable or accurate.

  • Bill Blond

    I would encourage you to read about the Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It describes the history of the USSRs prison camp system, and up until the 1980s, everyone thought like you seem to imply that Stalin was just a nut and that the death toll was a result of just a crazy person running the show–the system was created and put in place far earlier.

    I’m not trying to be insulting or know-it-all, but this seems to be leftists’ narratives about totalitarian regimes. Even North Korea, it’s like, “oh, well Kim Jong Un is just a crazy person, he’s just off the rails and a madman.” Can one person result in millions of deaths? I doubt it. More likely the fact that anyone who opposes the regime is silenced, imprisoned, or killed.

  • Bill Blond

    I know the point of what you’re saying, but you seem to think I’m genuinely confused about why those deaths piled up. I have my own ideas, but I’m concerned that the people who say, “No, no, no, that’s nothing like the USSR” don’t actually understand what the USSR was really about.

  • chemical

    Well you don’t seem know-it-all to me. I don’t think its controversial to say opposing Stalin while he was running the USSR would get you killed.

    Like I said, since I’m not an expert on Russian history, I can’t really make an assessment about Stalin’s mental health. I will say he’s a mass murderer, though. And in recent times, there seems to be this fear of calling mass murderers mass murderers.

  • I think that is what sparks outrage is people going, “[GASP!] I can’t believe Jordan Peterson is saying trans activists, feminists, or postmodernists want to commit mass murder.”

    Well, then it seems you’ve got yourself in a real double-bind then. The mass murder is what you claim the ideology (shared by the Soviets and the feminists and trans activists) inevitably leads to. If it doesn’t, then the consequences —”what that leads to,” as Peterson told his trans opponent in the video— need to be assessed rationally and without the Chicken Little hyperbole.

    What harm do you think using gender-neutral pronouns, or agreeing with feminists that we need to remedy the systemic inequities in society, will do in the long run and why?

  • Peterson is an English speaking academic who hasn’t been in the public eye for long. He’s unlikely to have generated much attention yet in non-English speaking Europe. To date his main UK exposure was his January interview on BBC Channel 4. So stating he’s “the most influential intellectual in the Western world” is rather overstating his impact.

  • Bill Blond

    I don’t think there is harm in using particular words.
    It’s not the words, it’s the attitude that we must force people to do it. I think forcing people to say things and think a certain way is dangerous.

  • Bill Blond

    @shemthepenman:disqus, do you think the attitude of “we must force people to use this set of words” is a good thing?

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    I haven’t either, I’m like a socially awkward teen

  • Anonymous person

    Ironically enough I was debating with Shem the penman yesterday on this website about the curtailing of freedom of expression for the protection of marginalized groups, me being on the freedom of expression side and him on the protection of the marginalized side. The reason I think it is appropriate to bring that up is because I think it is heavily related to this topic aswell.

    You may right that Jordan Peterson may be exagerating or fear mongering, though I might disagree to the extent of it. I think Jordan Petersons point is not that trans activists are going to lead to millions of deaths, but by making laws that protect certain classes by forcing how people speak, under penalty of law, you are creating the same type group think that the ussr and Maoist China had, where people were punished for not thinking and speaking the same way. Sure, the Ontario gov isn’t going to throw you in a death camp, but they still will fine, seize assets, and even potentially give you jail time for not following their group think. Doesn’t matter if their reasons are pure and are doing it for respect and inclusion, it is still forced group think under penalty of law.

    Also it seems clear to me that you don’t know too much about Petersons work and beliefs because most of what you have written about his views are with simplified or mischaracterized to look far more dangerous than they actually are. which is somewhat telling, because there is less criticism about him and his beliefs than there is about you talking about the modern state of the world.

  • “Dangerous”? This is paranoid scaremongering. I tried to emphasize that we need to assess the consequences of trans or feminist activism in realistic terms, but you’re stuck in this irrational fantasy world of oppression.

    How is using gender-neutral pronouns dangerous? What kind of harmful consequences are you convinced will follow from being polite and inclusive?

  • Bill Blond

    So what do you call it when someone forces you to say certain words? What do you call that concept?

  • I’m just asking you, if you chose to do the unthinkable and use gender-neutral pronouns, how could this lead to harmful consequences for our civilization?

  • Bill Blond

    Are you sidestepping my question? I just said the words are not dangerous. I say there is nothing bad to come of being polite and inclusive.

    I say “forcing people to use a set of words” is dangerous.

    You say, “What? how is using gender-neutral pronouns dangerous?”

    You seem to be Cathy Newman here.

  • Bill Blond

    I just got Cathy Newman-ed.

  • Women ruin everything!

  • Bill Blond

    “I don’t think those words are dangerous. I just don’t think people should be forced to use those words.”
    “What? Why do you think those words are dangerous?!”

    This makes me sad. People can’t listen.

  • You’re coming off as an incredibly immature, recalcitrant jerk here, Bill.

    Custom and taboo can indeed be coercive, but that’s part of living in civil society. Do you feel “forced” to avoid using racial slurs when addressing minorities? Do you feel “forced” to avoid swearing around the elderly?

  • Bill Blond

    Why are you not answering my question? I’ve already answered yours. You asked me what harm those words could lead to. I said I don’t think those words can lead to harmful consequences.
    I clarified and said FORCING people to use those words is itself harmful. What do you think about that? Do you think it’s okay to force people to say certain words?

  • Bill Blond

    I’m just asking you, if you chose to do the unthinkable and eat a stick of celery, how could this lead to harmful consequences for our civilization?

    Clearly we must make a law that mandates and forces people to eat a stick of celery!

  • Bill, I’m not here to jump through hoops for you. This is my blog. If you don’t like my way of engaging you, feel free to leave.

  • Bill Blond

    There is no law that stops me from using racial slurs–I don’t use them because I have been raised well and learned manners and received a good public education. That’s how we change people’s words–we persuade them, we talk to them, we convince them. We don’t force them.

  • Bill Blond

    Also, let the record show that you were the first to resort to name-calling here.

  • Bill Blond

    And you put quotes around “forced” but a custom or a taboo are not the same as a law. A law can fine you, and if you refuse to pay that fine, the law can jail you. THAT is force.

  • Well, okay. I agree, I don’t think that’s appropriate punishment for not using someone’s preferred gender pronouns.

    But that’s a long way from mass murder, amigo.

  • Bill Blond

    This is a strange sentiment. So you won’t answer my question of whether it’s okay to force someone to use certain words. That’s fine, you’re well within your rights to not answer a question, but it’s awfully telling that you can’t answer a simple question of whether it’s okay to force someone to say something. You seem to feel awfully uncomfortable answering my question, such to the extent that you call it “jumping through hoops.” I wonder how you might feel if you were forced to answer my question or else pay a fine, and then if you objected to paying that fine, you went to jail. I’m sure that would make our conversation more polite and more civil.

    I doubt I’ll come back to your blog. I don’t like being called a jerk, and I don’t like it when I answer someone’s question and then ask someone one in return and they refuse to answer it. That isn’t civil society, and I’m not sure I would want to live in the kind of civil society you envision where it’s okay to use the law to bully and force certain words out of people, whatever the words may be.

  • I wonder how you might feel if you were forced to answer my question or else pay a fine, and then if you objected to paying that fine, you went to jail. I’m sure that would make our conversation more polite and more civil.

    Suck it up, Bucko.

  • Bill Blond

    That is the whole point of this conversation, and THAT is why Peterson is striking a chord. You know deep down using the wrong pronoun and being fined, and then possibly jailed for not paying that fine is not appropriate. There are people who think it is VERY appropriate, and they don’t focus on that part–they don’t say, “Well, I’ve decided that you ought to behave and think this way, so I’m going to use the government to control what you do,” they say, “why won’t you just be polite?” This isn’t about being polite. Do I think you should deliberately misgender someone? No, that would be very rude, but there are LOTS of things that are very rude in this world, but where do we draw the line with allowing the government into our word choice? Words are thoughts!

  • Bill Blond

    And if Trump and some fanatical Christians made a law that said, “you know what, we deem it offensive that people don’t pray before their meals, so we’re going to make it a law, but don’t worry, it’s just being polite”

    “Well I don’t want to pray before my meals. I don’t ascribe to that worldview.”

    “Oh my goodness! What harm could come from you praying before your meal? Listen, you don’t even need to believe that praying before your meals is good or bad–you don’t have to agree with it, you just have to say it, okay? Boom! You’re fired!”

    My fictitious dialogue above is ludicrous and anyone reading it would say, “absolutely not! It isn’t the government’s business to tell people how they should eat a meal.”

  • Bill Blond

    He says “Sort yourself out, Bucko.” I’m going to go clean my room now.

  • And like I keep saying, if you’d be realistic about the consequences, we might get somewhere. It’s not appropriate to be fined for misuse of pronouns. But it hardly compares to unspeakable oppression and mass graves!!

  • “where people were punished for not thinking and speaking the same way”

    As opposed to conservatives who never ever advocate that, amirite?

  • Anonymous person

    ofcourse they have, and they were wrong too. I just didn’t think I’d see the day when liberals start to do so aswell.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    People in the US don’t realize that we are the only country with the freedom of speech. It’s hard to get people to understand how wrong it is to require words when they don’t have the right to use whatever words they want. It’s a given that their government can regulate speech.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    The problem Peterson has isnt with the pronouns. He said he would and has used prefered pronouns. The problem is with legislation that requires language. Im curious what country you are in? In America we have the first amendment of free speech and I know we are unique in that right. Are you in America also? If not, please understand that many people here rely on that freedom to facilitate debate and it is a terrifying concept that our government could require speech. You’re thoughts?

  • Racists ruin things, which you apparently are given your other comments.

  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes:

    Fundamental freedoms

    2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

    (a) freedom of conscience and religion;

    (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

    (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

    (d) freedom of association.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    So essentially freedom of speech or is it excluded with skillful wording?

  • Nick G

    His main area of expertise is psychoanalysis

    Which is of course pseudo-scientific garbage.

  • Nick G

    I think that the best way to win a war of ideas with him and his ilk
    does not include punching him in the mouth so he can’t talk.

    If you have to resort to fascism to ‘defeat’ fascists, is that victory worth having?

    Right, so World War Two was a mistake; the Allies should just have out-argued Hitler. Seriously, if you have to resort to punching someone in the mouth to prevent the spread of Nazism, of course it’s worth it. What kind of idiot would say otherwise? When Nazi scum like Spencer parade in public, it’s a deliberate and conscious threat to resume the Nazi programme of exterminations, and a deliberate and conscious attempt to intimidate their enemies into silence. There should be absolutely no question that Nazis have any right to do that; whether they should be prevented from doing so by force is a purely tactical issue. To judge by Spencer’s recent statement that “antifa” made recruiting on campuses no fun, so he’s suspending that campaign, it works in at least some cases.,

  • Nick G

    Nazis should not be accorded the right to speak. See my response to b33bl3br0x above. To fetishise “free speech” in this way is abject foolishness*. There is also the right not to be threatened and intimidated – and any Nazi, speaking in public, is threatening and attempting to intimidate all those who would be exterminated if they had their way. You may be psychologically tough enough to deal with this; many such people are not. You have no right to decide for them whether they should have to put up with it. As for your condescension in the second half of that paragraph, you can stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine.

    *I will point out that almost no-one actually believes in complete freedom of speech. Even the USA, the supposed bastion of free speech absolutism, has laws against direct incitement to murder, against libel, against breaches of “national security” by broadcasting military secrets.

  • When people talk about the USSR, they seem to imagine that it was defined entirely by Stalin’s reign (30 years, out of the 69 years that the USSR existed), and that it was defined entirely by the holodomor, which was a result of a combination of anti-genetics pseudoscience, over-focus on industrialization, changes in agricultural policies, climate change and anti-ukrainian sentiment.

    Now, I don’t see, exactly, how that kind of thing relates to trans rights, BLM and feminism, especially since gay people were oppressed under soviet leadership shortly before, during and well after Stalin’s rule:

    In addition, women were expected to take on traditional family roles (and subordinate roles) under Stalin’s leadership:

    I do not know about soviet attitudes toward trans people at that time (due to the erasure of our history by most modern sources), however, the lack of necessary sexual freedom would most likely have kept us down too.

  • I think Jordan Petersons point is not that trans activists are going to lead to millions of deaths, but by making laws that protect certain classes by forcing how people speak, under penalty of law, you are creating the same type group think that the ussr and Maoist China had, where people were punished for not thinking and speaking the same way.

    This is exactly what I meant about exaggeration and fearmongering. All the Canadian government did was add transgender people, frequent victims of violence and discrimination, to the list of protected classes in the Human Rights Act. Peterson, even though he has no legal credentials whatsoever, has everyone assuming that this is going to lead to people being fined or imprisoned for improper pronoun use. The Canadian Bar Association says that’s not true, but Peterson’s credulous followers have swallowed his spurious legal analysis without a shred of skepticism.

    If people truly were being arrested or fined for improper pronoun use, you might have a point. But they’re not. So you don’t.

  • To fetishise “free speech” in this way is abject foolishness

    Exactly. White supremacists and racists are fringe groups, but they’re targeting minorities and calling for discrimination against or deportation of them. The white majority gets to blithely shrug its shoulders and make noises about “free speech,” but what it’s really doing is normalizing that sort of speech and validating the marginalization of minorities.

  • Brian Curtis

    Say what? Since when is psychoanalysis ‘garbage’?

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    I really cannot speak in depth about the actual historic treatment of trans people, but what I can speak about is people’s attitudes toward themselves and their roles in society. I truly believe there is a spark if divine in every person and that if an individual cultivates that power in themselves, they can channel that potential into an awesome tool for good in the world. Identity politics seems like a sleeping pill that dampens people’s ability to define their own truth, because of fear that their group will reject a fundamental piece of their existence. When I was young, I was a punk. I never shared this belief that I already held at that age for fear that my fellow punks would disregard me. Only when I separated myself identity from the group was I able to use that belief to strengthen my own power to affect change in the world. At least this is my perspective.

  • I’m American. I already mentioned to Anonymous person that I think Peterson blew the entire trans-pronouns thing completely out of proportion. I tend to believe The Canadian Bar Association, who said that the legal consensus is that the measure poses no threat to civil liberties, rather than an alarmist like Peterson who panders to the privilege and paranoia of his credulous audience.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    To your last paragraph, no one has the right to incite harm on an individual with their speech. This is an inherent foundation of free speech. The question is what is harm? False accusations that can destroy someone’s career? I would say that’s harmful. Inciting violence? That’s clearly harmful. One group saying they believe they are morally and genetically superior to another group? Those people cannot and will not “have their way” As long as they speak publicly and we can cut down their beliefs publically. What they say may be emotionally difficult but it doesn’t cause harm. If an individual is damaged by someone saying those sentiments, then my response to them is toughen up. The world is full of people that want to hurt your feelings. You decide if you will be a victim of that or not.
    As to letting Nazis speak. Their is nothing more dangerous than not letting someone speak their hate because if you can’t debate that person, there is NO CHANCE to a) change their mind and b) understand what they are actually up to. So, no I cannot come over to your way of thinking.
    Lastly, there is NO condescension in my statement about personal potential. Read this carefully because this is my unwavering belief. Every single person has a potential to affect positive change in the world. They need to cultivate it in themselves so that they can reach their ultimate potential. Identity politics at least pulls a person astray from their potential and that is a maddening reality. If every person can affect positive change by the realisation of their potential, then every person can unleash a little hell by not doing so.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    What would you say about the Lindsay Shepard incident?

  • What would you say about the response I just posted to your question? This “terrifying concept” you mentioned appears to be an instance where people are being misled by alarmist rhetoric.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    My response is we can see what will happen with this compelled speech when we look at what happened to Lindsay Shepard. She was brought infront of a room of University athorities and told that by playing a video she was essentially supporting some as bad as Hitler. They lied about nonexistent complaints against her to justify their actions. They used Bill C16 to attempt that reprimand. This is exactly why Peterson said the legislation was dangerous. That is not fearmongering or alarmist. That is forsight.

  • Um, well, Lindsay Shepard was exonerated and got an apology from her university. She never faced any official fines or charges.

    And this has to do with trans-pronouns and “compelled speech” how?

  • Anonymous person

    from your document:

    “Bill C-16 would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) to include gender identity or gender
    expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination.”

    “In federally regulated workplaces, services, accommodation, and other areas covered by the CHRA, it will constrain unwanted, persistent behaviour (physical or verbal) that offends or humiliates
    individuals on the basis of their gender identity or expression.”

    From the Ontario human rights commission website:

    “Refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name and a personal pronoun that matches their gender identity, or purposely misgendering, will likely be discrimination when it takes place in a social area covered by the Code”

    You really can’t see why people would be worried? The human rights commission says that purposely misgendering would be likely be considered discrimination. C-16 says that it protects trans folks from violence and discrimination. So that mean misgendering due to ones beliefs that there are only 2 genders could potentially mean fines, which if not played could potentially mean jail time. Just because it hasnt happened yet is irrelevant.

  • C-16 says that it protects trans folks from violence and discrimination. So that mean misgendering due to ones beliefs that there are only 2 genders could potentially mean fines, which if not played could potentially mean jail time. Just because it hasnt happened yet is irrelevant.

    Hmm, so the Canadian Bar Association says the legal consensus is that C-16 is not a threat to freedom of speech, but you’re afraid of fines and jail time and say that just because it hasn’t happened yet is irrelevant.

    Whom should I believe in this matter? Hmm, this is a toughie.

    I maintain that you’re letting Jordan “Chicken Little” Peterson make you think that this is a very, very frightening matter and that our precious liberties are in peril. You don’t appear to be willing or able to listen to reason in this matter. I wonder why.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    She was never charged or fined because she had the foresight to record the meeting and then the blowback on the university was so profound that they had to backpeddle. But this was what happened when the ideology took hold of the legislation the first chance it got. I’m sure you can see the broader implications of this.
    As for compelled speech, if you are forced to support or not support an idea, it leaves you no room to explore your own mind to think critically. If we want a world of good behaving worker drones, then that’s fine. But that’s not what I want or what I’m sure you want. But don’t be disingenuous by insisting that this has much, if anything to do with pronouns.

  • Well, I guess I’m not the only person being disingenuous, then, because you and Jordan Peterson are making it seem like our precious liberties are under attack because of some campus brouhahas and we’re at the mercy of the all-powerful transperson lobby.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    The legislation isn’t limited to campuses.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    I know this will sound apologetic but Nazi ideology is perpetuated by people. People can be talked to. Reasoned with.

  • OV

    ”’Who are the proper public intellectuals
    for our not-so-new millennium? Is anyone providing a compelling,
    comprehensive vision for us that demands our full mental and political
    engagement? And if so, why aren’t they YouTube sensations?”’

    Here’s a proper public intellectual that I upload on my ROKU when he posts.

    Steven Pinker
    Canadian psychologist

    Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.

  • Pinker is married to one of my picks for public intellectual, author and philosopher Rebecca Newberger-Goldstein. Her novel 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction was an irreverent take on those religion debates that lots of people take seriously, I guess.

  • People can be talked to. Reasoned with.

    But but but where’s your evidence??

  • OV

    Oh really…….do they all upstage you?

  • Anonymous person

    Ironically, you seem far more bias towards this than I do, from the way you try to belittle me and Mr. Peterson.

    I showed you evidence from your own document you posted, which is from the Canadian bar association, along with the actual human rights commission website stating that purposely misgendering someone would likely be considered discrimination. The document you showed said it protects them from discrimination

    So sorry to say this, but the Canadian bar association contradicts itself. That, or its a very crapily written law which is far to vague to do any good, which was also one of Petersons points.

    Do you refute that there is contradictory evidence in what I showed you, if so, please explain how. Using the appeal to authority fallacy doesn’t disprove what I said, Especially when the authority specifically talks about discrimination, and the authority in conguntion with it considers purposeful and persistent misgendering as discrimination.

  • No contradiction. What the Canadian Bar Association said was that the measure Is intended to protect transpeople from discrimination, but that it’s not a threat to anyone else’s civil liberties.

    Do you conceive rights as some sort of zero-sum proposition, where anyone else’s gains are your loss? Do you automatically assume that protecting people from discrimination and harassment inevitably leads to the unwarranted oppression of innocent, freedom-loving people like you?

  • huzonfurst

    Are you actually defending Canada’s law that says you can be *fined* for not using pronouns that some people – those p/c “gender-obsessed” types – insist on?? This is not a law *against* saying certain untrue or provocative things which can and do cause actual harm, but a law insisting that you *must* use certain words if other people insist upon it! It’s the *opposite* of free speech because it’s *compelled* speech, and I fully support Dr Peterson on this issue even if I question some of his other opinions such as those in favor of religion.
    I reserve the right to mock anyone who is so confused about reality that they think they can change nature at will, not only that but insist that everyone “respect” their absurd delusions. I have nothing against how others exercise their gender preferences, but don’t expect automatic approval from the rest of us!

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    Well friend. Let’s watch and see.

  • Anonymous person

    Yes, it states that it is not a threat to anyone’s civil liberties, but is not freedom of expression a civil liberty? Do you condede the human rights commission states that purposeful and consistant misgendering is discrimination? If we do that because of our beliefs, is that not freedom of expression? So if doing so is considered discrimination, which it clearly states on their website, and will fine me for discrimination, does that that law not impede on a civil liberty. So basically Its ok for me to believe anything I want, But I have to state something I don’t believe in when speaking? Unless you are saying that they won’t reinforce the law? if that’s the case, why not just get rid of that part of the law?

    I conceive rights to be for everyone, not just certain groups, otherwise its not equal rights. If there are laws that help some but not others due to sex, race or gender, then that is discrimination.

    No, I don’t think assume that. I think protecting others from discrimination by curtailing other people’s rights is wrong and unwarrented.

  • Bill barber

    If I may. I believe he is referring to the ideology itself. Group identity matters more than individual rights. The righteous group can inflict any sort of misery upon their “enemy” because they hold the moral justification. They don’t merely disagree with others viewpoints, they feel they must utterly destroy anyone who does not agree with them and their group think. This is equivalent to communistic systems that justify the murder of countless “others”. Don’t think for a moment totalitarianism is opposed by everyone. Some folks love it because that way they can inflict revenge on the world for making them such a loser. They don’t have to be accountable for themselves for they are always the perpetual victim and they just absolutely HATE anyone who can manage their lives for themselves and still be happy while drowning in a veil of tears that
    life is for us all at one point or another.

  • Tim

    Since Dewey introduced behaviorism and saved psychology from it’s own dark age (a.k.a. the psuedo-science of depth psychology).
    And you don’t need to take my word for it Popper and Lakatos both think psychoanalysis is non-falsifiable garbage.

  • Daffodil

    Pardon me for jumping into this, but I just had an almost identical discussion on this topic in another forum. Let them talk, because the more they spout their crap, the faster they dig their own grave! There is no normalizing occurring here. No one is being convinced of anything by what these people say. The only ones who agree with them are those who already believed in it. The rest of us hear that crap and are appalled. Look at Trump. If the things he said were convincing people that we need a wall and should avoid allowing immigrants from the “wrong kind” of countries to come here, his ratings would be steadily rising. But they’re not! He has one of the worst ratings in the history of the presidency! His rise to the presidency was not a result of the majority voting him into office but was a fluke (feature?) of our electoral system. If you silence these racists, they will be able to turn the laws around and silence you too.

  • The law appears to be a boilerplate anti-discrimination measure, and says nothing about being *fined* for not using trans-specific pronouns. It appears Peterson has been very effective in pandering to the paranoid bigotry of his credulous followers.

  • There’s something sort of immature about claiming that your precious liberties are being infringed just because you might have to use different pronouns when addressing a fraction of a fraction of the population. Civil society involves trade-offs, and this one is so minor that I think I’m well within my rights to accuse people of alarmism for characterizing it as an affront to freedom of expression.

    This blog post was only supposed to use Peterson as a symptom of the lack of intellectual rigor in our public discourse, and so far only one person here has bothered to offer examples of today’s public intellectual. How about you?

  • I guess I fail to see how Trump can be said to have “dug his own grave” with his racist numbnuttery, since he’s sitting in the Oval Office as we speak. It looks more like letting this stuff be broadcast without any restrictions whatsoever doesn’t make it magically disappear after all.

  • b33bl3br0x

    I’m a bit confused by this response. I was not suggesting pacifism at all costs, simply that the
    proper response to speech is speech. Further that meeting speech with violence is a symptom of fascism.

    Also, should I infer from your response that you think that if someone had just punched Hitler in the face that the Nazis wouldn’t have risen to power, thus saving millions of lives?

  • Bill Blond

    I agree with you–I was asking the author what his thinking was, but he has proven himself quite ignorant and poorly thought out on this issue and seems to have no understanding of the underlying pathological ideology of the USSR and other systems like it. You can read @Shem the penman’s statements–he is uninformed, ignorant, and naïve. For example, he makes ludicrous claims that “ideology” did not lead to all of those deaths; he claims it was “just about paranoia and power,” but no details beyond that (no details because he isn’t articulate or because he doesn’t actually understand anything about the history or thinking of the former USSR?); he focuses on how people may be offended by being compared to a murderous ideology rather than focusing on what that ideology is (i.e. it doesn’t matter that people are offended if their thinking is on the same spectrum); he focuses entirely on the death toll as if the raw number is itself the shocking thing and not the thinking that led to that death toll. Intellectually, he’s shown himself ill-equipped to articulate anything remotely close to what you’ve said just now in this comment so articulately (and others as well). He seems more concerned about being right and virtue signaling his “good ‘ol critical thinking skills” than an actual discussion where he makes himself vulnerable and shares his actual understanding on the USSR, which seems very poorly formulated and informed.

    I don’t blame him–this is very common in discourse these days for people to hide what they know, or worse, begin name-calling opponents when one’s ignorance starts to become obvious to others, so I understand why he would resort to such disingenuous behavior, but I do not respect him for it.

  • David Barber

    No. The complexity of the brain, the human psyche and our nature/nurture cannot probably ever be studied under any falsifiable tests and Peterson acknowledges the limitations of psychology. He even states that imprecise though it is, IQ is the closest it gets with predictable outcomes. I’m not sure what you are trying to say here, but you can’t simply dismiss psychoanalysis as garbage. Was your intent to dismiss Peterson’s area of expertise and thus undermine all his credibility in a comment section? That will hardly hold up.

  • Bill Blond

    “This blog post was only supposed to…” This is a shrewd move–your entire post is based on a naïve and poorly-versed premises about the issues Peterson is upset over, and you become annoyed that people don’t join the chorus of your conclusion based on faulty evidence. You then seek to blame them for “not getting it.” This is a very sophisticated sleight of hand, but it sidesteps the questions your ignorance has brought upon yourself.

    If you think it’s no big deal for the government to force you to say certain things, and you assume the government will not take that behavior a step further, then you are naïve, Shem. Don’t worry, Solzhenitsyn supported the USSR in the beginning or at least didn’t speak against so loudly at first. Then he was sent to the Gulag for 8 years for hostile comments.

  • You had plenty of opportunity to school me about Peterson’s brilliance, amigo, but all you did was show how selective and self-serving your understanding of history is.

    Well, that’s not all you did. You also showed you’re an easy mark for Peterson’s alarmist ranting, and now you’re so paranoid you’re afraid the trans activists are going to send us all to the Gulag!!

    Thanks for contributing.

  • David Barber

    Then you need to read and watch Peterson more, because he makes it pretty clear in his lectures. Perhaps if you are genuinely interested in establishing why it may be true, you engage with the material and even drop him a line? He has warned of fascism and marxism equally and is hated by the far left and right accordingly. As for the far-lef hit-piece in the link (Jacobin) , my god it’s so full of misrepresentation it’s almost slanderous. “Newman’s attempt to refute Peterson through cordial debate failed after she conceded to elements of his worldview, including the need for corporate hierarchy and an ethos of competition. In response to Newman’s statistics about the wage gap, Peterson argued that this inequality was a necessary part of the capitalist dynamic.” Did this person watch the same interview I did? Peterson neither said nor intimated these things. Also: “For instance, Peterson’s refusal to respect people who use different pronouns to express their identity is no small issue, but a central one for recognizing the humanity of transgender people.” is a total and purposeful misrepresentation of his stance, which he has made publicly. He has many Trans supporters. Finally, this insidious smearing paragraph: “Peterson’s fans argue that he is not a fascist, just a classical liberal; not a racist, just someone who acknowledges “ethnic differences”; not a misogynist, just honest about the real differences between men and women.” I can’t take you seriously when you link to an article like this.

  • Finally, this insidious smearing paragraph: “Peterson’s fans argue that he is not a fascist, just a classical liberal; not a racist, just someone who acknowledges “ethnic differences”; not a misogynist, just honest about the real differences between men and women.” I can’t take you seriously when you link to an article like this.

    Isn’t that what Peterson’s fans say?

  • Bill Blond

    It has nothing to do with trans activists. That’s what you don’t get. It’s about a shill like you who “doesn’t see what the big deal is” with government forcing you to say certain words.

  • Since you seem to have swallowed Peterson’s ravings about C-16 without doing one bit of independent verification, please realize that the truth about the Canadian law and how egregiously Peterson lied about it is available for those of us to whom the facts of the matter are relevant.

  • Bill Blond

    Also, I talked very little about Peterson and asked you a lot of questions that you did not respond to intelligently. You’re also totally ignorant of the implications of these kinds of actions… this kind of stuff is already in place in New York:

    Again, I would not go out of my way to misgender someone, but having a law force people to speak a certain way is wrong.

    But if you think it’s okay to force people, then I don’t know how you are an American. I don’t think you realize how free you are here.

  • Bill Blond

    It says in that very article “If Peterson was found to be in violation of the code, there are different possible remedies. He could be ordered to pay money, he could be ordered to correct the behaviour, he could be ordered to go to training, etc.”

    You seem to be saying two opposite things. Can the law fine you or give you court ordered training or not?

    And I have read about this. Don’t be so sanctimonious and supercilious. It’s obvious, and it’s rude.

  • According to the article, the legal consensus appears to be that misuse of pronouns doesn’t constitute hate speech. But if you’d rather believe Peterson because he panders to your paranoia, be my guest.

  • Tim

    My point is that if it is not falsifiable it is not science.
    That’s not an opinion. That’s the foundation of contemporary scientific thought post-Popper (and one that began during the enlightenment in the natural sciences and that was predicted by Comte for the social sciences). That said you, or Peterson, cannot even demonstrate that a “psyche” even exists which is separate from the human brain. Which really gets at the point of how garbage (scientifically speaking) this is.

    Imre Lakatos who was the editor of the British Journal of the Philosophy of Science. Called research programmes which are not falsifiable (or which only survive by making ad-hoc adjustments to their core assumptions) are “psuedo-science”. Lakatos’ words not mine.

    So yes, I adhere to the basic conception of science that the rest of the scientific community adheres to. And that said, I believe very strongly in the social sciences being scientifically credible (only a few sub-fields, i.e., depth-psychology, Soviet Marxism, Chicago School Economics, etc…) are examples to the contrary; no different than in the natural sciences).

    You can enjoy anti-positivists like Peterson all you want, but it isn’t science. It’s anti-positivist/interpretativist gobildy-gook and little more than a grab bag of preferred, theoretically-ladden, outcomes.

    Psychoanalysis became “junk science,” relative to mainstream psychology when Dewey introduced behaviorism and the field transitioned to positivism, over psuedo-scientific anti-positivist depth-psychology.

  • My point is that if it is not falsifiable it is not science.
    That’s not an opinion. That’s the foundation of contemporary scientific thought post-Popper.

    Contemporary philosophers of science are a lot less sure that falsificationism definitively solves the demarcation problem. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says this:

    Popper’s demarcation criterion has been criticized both for excluding legitimate science (Hansson 2006) and for giving some pseudosciences the status of being scientific (Agassi 1991; Mahner 2007, 518–519). Strictly speaking, his criterion excludes the possibility that there can be a pseudoscientific claim that is refutable. According to Larry Laudan (1983, 121), it “has the untoward consequence of countenancing as ‘scientific’ every crank claim which makes ascertainably false assertions”. Astrology, rightly taken by Popper as an unusually clear example of a pseudoscience, has in fact been tested and thoroughly refuted (Culver and Ianna 1988; Carlson 1985). Similarly, the major threats to the scientific status of psychoanalysis, another of his major targets, do not come from claims that it is untestable but from claims that it has been tested and failed the tests.

    Not for nothing, but we all believe non-falsifiable claims. I believe all humans are mortal; I believe there are fish in the Atlantic Ocean; and I believe I was conceived.

  • Bill Blond

    So C-16 is not on the same spectrum as the recent law in New York ?(

    I get that you want to use paranoia as a conversation stopper and silence me with it, but it isn’t paranoid when this line of reasoning goes a step further and further, and now New York City already has laws that can penalize someone for up to $125,000-$250,000.

    This isn’t tinfoil hat, I see dead people, secret voices paranoia. This is happening.

  • Tim

    Poppers view of falsification is admittedly dogmatic. I mention him because he’s the most well known falsificationist. Most scientists, particularly social sciences adhere to the “sophisticated falsification” of Lakatos. Which is less strict and allows for a greater degree of theoretical development. When a theory (or programme) in this case psychoanalysis fails to explain phenomenon which it should, it has two options: to expand their core assumptions to be more predictive (explain more phenomenon) or to constrict their assumptions to explain less. Psychoanaylis has been in crisis, it has failed to predict phenomenon it should be reasonably expected to predict AND it has failed to make adjustments to its assumptions which enhance it’s predictive power. Thus, we can dismiss the theory as being a psuedoscience. This IS falsification. It just is not Popper’s dogmatic falsification rather Lakatos’ “sophisticated falsification”.

    Another Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy link
    (since I presume you are reasonably uninterested in spending your day reading the original scholarship and obviously like this source):

    Sorry, I don’t know what Discus’ syntax for embedding a link is.

    [Edit to say: Lakatos and others are building on the thought of Popper, I don’t mean to suggest that Popper is definitive].

  • This isn’t tinfoil hat, I see dead people, secret voices paranoia. This is happening.

    Except it’s not happening, you’re just regurgitating the scaremongering of Peterson and other freeze-peachers.

    Fact-checked by Snopes: “Discrimination against a transgender individual could result in fines of up to $250,000, but these fines won’t be handed out for accidentally misusing pronouns. According to the new guidelines, the commission can impose civil penalties of up to $125,000 for violations of the law and (in extreme circumstances) of up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of “willful, wanton, or malicious” conduct.”

    It seems you’ve swallowed a ludicrously tendentious interpretation of NYC’s anti-discrimination law. This was put in place to make sure that employers and landlords can’t discriminate against transpeople. Only in the most feverishly paranoid imagination can this be interpreted as cracking down on pronoun misuse.

  • Bill Blond

    Oh my goodness you are naïve. It says very plainly what example offenses could be:

    “a. Intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title. For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman “him” or “Mr.” after she has made clear which pronouns and title she uses …
    Covered entities may avoid violations of the NYCHRL by creating a policy of asking everyone what their preferred gender pronoun is so that no individual is singled out for such questions and by updating their systems to allow all individuals to self-identify their names and genders. They should not limit the options for identification to male and female only.”

    That means if someone wants you to say “ze” or virtually anything else and you do not wish to say those words, you can be subject to civil or criminal penalties. So even if you don’t believe in gender non-binary as a thing, you must endorse that concept by using that word.

  • It should be clear by now that I hold Peterson and his fanboyz in very low regard, and I’m hardly an expert in psychoanalysis. But models of mind and consciousness are a lot trickier than models of, say, drug efficacy in humans.

    The problem is that science works by creating the illusion of a non-perspectival approach to a phenomenon, where we de-emphasize meaning to a degree where can effectively assume that everybody’s defining the matter in the same way. This de-subjectivizing process is very successful when we’re talking about chemicals, but when we’re talking about consciousness, it’s hard to take the subject out.

  • Once again, you’re stretching the truth past the breaking point to validate your paranoid delusions, and trying to reason with you just seems to infuriate you. You’re determined to interpret these anti-discrimination laws as violating your precious liberties, without a shred of evidence that there’s any real threat, and nothing anyone says can convince you otherwise.

    The Billy-Go-Round is starting to get me nauseous, so I’m done for now.

  • Anonymous person

    I didn’t say there were only two. I said the belief that there are two, as compared, to you know, the 71 registered genders in canada. And I would complain If they made it illegal to talk about creationism in general, even though I don’t believe in it.

  • Bill Blond

    How is it stretching the truth? You can label something as a paranoid delusion, but that doesn’t mean you have engaged with it through reasoning.

    So far, I’ve shown that a person in NYC who does not accept non-binary as a thing can refuse to call someone “ze” and insist on “he” or “she” and that can result in a fine of up to 250,000. Your response, “nuh uh, Snopes says you can’t be fined for accidental usage.” I’m not talking about accidental mis-usage, obviously.

    Your name-calling is childish and immature, by the way. It suits you.

  • Anonymous person

    Bill is right, that is quite a sidestep on your part. Followed by an adept sleight of hand by changing the topic. It is much easier to say my reasoning is immature and talk about the likelihood of the law effecting me because the trans population is small, then to actually engage in what I said about the law. I don’t need to find an other example, I just need to defend Jordan from your claims.

  • I’ve shown that a person in NYC who does not accept non-binary as a thing can refuse to call someone “ze” and insist on “he” or “she” and that can result in a fine of up to 250,000.

    You’ve done no such thing. You pointed out anti-discrimination protections for transpeople and then allowed your imagination to fly to dizzying heights of conspiraloonacy.

    You go to great lengths to protect your bigoted, paranoid viewpoint.

  • I just thought I’d ask you about the topic of this discussion, that’s all. I didn’t ask you to state something you don’t believe or anything equally abominable.

  • Anonymous person

    Theres no point Bill, All he has is appeal to athourity, ad hominem, and refusal to examine evidence that show the contrary of his beliefs. Instead he just denies it as evidence without valid reasons. Unwilling to concede on what the laws and sources clearly state. Forget it Bill, this is patheos town.

  • Just because you consider these logical leaps “valid” doesn’t mean those of us who aren’t conspiraloons have to agree with you.

    I’ve demonstrated how Peterson lied about the C-16 law, and how Bill did the same with the NYC anti-discrimination ordinance.

  • Bill Blond

    So landlords in NYC can use “he” or “she” in protest of someone who wants to be called “ze” and they will not be fined? Are you saying that “Intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title.” which is listed under “Examples of Violations” is not an example of a violation? Explain your logic, because it looks like “A is true and A is NOT true.”

    Where do you get off calling me a bigot? I never said my views are superior to other people’s views. That is the problem with people like you, you cop out and label things as bigoted as a way of silencing dissenters and avoiding logic and reasoning over the idea. You’re too busy trying to fit me in a box so you can deem my ideas beneath you and undeserving of intellectual consideration.

  • Bill, please stop pretending to be some sort of legal expert. And please admit that the size of the hissy fit you’re throwing over the trans-pronoun matter is sort of indicative that you don’t think these people are worthy of any limits, however insignificant, on your precious freedom of expression.

  • Anonymous person

    That you did not shem, that you did not. The law is asking me to do that.

    But ok. Steve Pinker, Sam Harris, and the Weinstein brothers fit the bill, and as much as I would hate to say it, Ben shapiro, but he his less than an intellectual than a pundit who I find to be for the most part logically coherent in his beliefs (exept about isreal) and far less dogmatic in his views than other pundits. Though I disagree with him and Sam Harris on many issues, I respect their ability to coherently state there beliefs with sound rhetoric and back it up with stats.

  • Bill Blond

    Fining a person up to $250,000 for “Intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title” is not an insignificant infringement on a person’s right to express themselves.

    I’m friends with trans people, you great assumer, and I don’t believe anyone should be insulted or mistreated, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s good for the government to force people to speak a certain way.

    And no, my “hissy fit” is not a sign of my bigotry–it’s my annoyance with your supercilious and arrogant demeanor, but I suppose it’s not hard for a childish person to project childish motivations onto another person. But then again, I’m not a lawyer.

  • Bill Blond

    You should look at Carl Rogers work on listening. He says you haven’t really been listening until you can summarize what another person is saying in a way that he/she would be satisfied with. So far, I say it’s wrong to fine someone $250,000 because they do not want to use a pronoun and refuse to use it… then you “summarize” as: “Oh, he just doesn’t like this because he’s a bigot.” Oh? Yeah, yeah, that’s accurate and a sincere effort to understand.

  • I say it’s wrong to fine someone $250,000 because they do not want to use a pronoun and refuse to use it

    As long as we’re talking about listening, I even said yesterday that I agree that’s wrong. But my point is that that isn’t happening, anywhere, and you’re living in a fantasy world if you think it is. Peterson is good at saying things that no one could dispute, wrapped up in Chicken Little rhetoric.

  • Fining a person up to $250,000 for “Intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title” is not an insignificant infringement on a person’s right to express themselves.

    It certainly wouldn’t be, if it were even remotely conceivable that anyone would do so.

  • Tim

    The problem here is, that like the psuedo-science fanboys, which you and I supposedly both dislike, you can’t even demonstrate there is such a thing as a “mind” which is independent of the human brain. On the other hand, neuro-scientists and psychologists are quite comfortable with the theory of the brain being the seat of all consciousness. While we as individual may hold values which are subject to our experience, our experiences are all tangible tautologically; unless you have evidence of supernatural sensors I am unaware of. Additionally, the way that we make decisions, form preferences, and develop “images” are relatively observable (either directly or indirectly). And that is evidenced by the fact that, we have gotten relatively good in predicting probabilistic the rather complex decision making, since the 60’s.

    Reality is not a personal construct. If you want to dabble in post-modernism that’s fine if you find it fulfills something for you, but intrepretevism cannot generate causal explanations and so is inherently not scientific. Additionally, if you want to have a practical conversation about research questions I’m uncertain of what use these ontological considerations even are to the process. If the post-modernists and desCartes is right and reality a personal illusion what practical implication would that have for the researcher? Would political scientists abandon the scientific method and stop studying voter behavior? No. Would botanists stop studying flowers? No. Post-modernism should stay in the art appreciation classrooms where it belongs…

    But then again… I’m probably just the Cartesian God here to torment you.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    Please tell me why you think so.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    Please tell me where you think I’m astray so I can engage with you.

  • Bill Blond

    I know, you said you think it’s wrong but that it isn’t realistic to think it could mean actually being punished by the law (weird idea, since laws exist to punish people, but whatever), so then I share evidence from Washington Post of all places (apparently now an alt-right publication I’m sure) that it IS happening and your response? “You’re not a lawyer.” Nice one.

    Anyway, I’m kind of done with this discussion and don’t have respect for you or this website anymore. It’s like how I used to read Huffington Post and they said Hillary had a 98% chance of winning. I didn’t like reading their “news” website anymore after the election (I voted for Obama by the way, but I know that doesn’t fit your narrative or assumptions about me and my character).

    I wish I could say this phenomenon is unique to you and that your behavior is simply an aberration, but it’s endemic to our society, and it’s why people who previously voted for Obama in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin changed and voted for Trump (I didn’t vote for Trump, FYI): They are reacting to that same haughty spirit among leftists, and the disrespect they have for others such that many are cool with controlling others (this is not the same as liberals who believe in individual freedoms).

    Your whole demeanor and approach to this discussion is not with a listening attitude, and you haven’t demonstrated a willingness to engage–far easier to make assumptions, label, insult, attack.

    You are another manifestation of Cathy Newman.

    This is what Peterson calls ideological possession: Shem, your ideas are controlling you, not the other way around, but it’s possible for you instead to possess your ideas and be in control of them and not so attached, and if you gave Peterson a chance, you’d see this is a compelling idea how people can become so committed to their ideas that it shuts them off from actually listening.

    I don’t respect you, but I have good will toward you, and I sincerely hope you can see that everyone who agrees with Peterson is not just paranoid racist and misogynist people–most of those people hate Peterson because he is too centrist, if you can believe that.

    Maybe we won’t go to a Gulag, but at least in NYC, they can fine you into the Stone Age if you refuse to say “ze,” and that, as you admit, is pretty damn scary.

    I want to live in a world where we change people’s minds through engaging with them–not one where we throw laws at them and frighten, coerce, and intimidate them into changing their outside behavior.

    I think these laws, as I said earlier, are the real dog whistles.

    Extremists read these things and it provides fuel for their ideology (“See? They’ll fine me $250,000 for refusing to speak the way they want!”) –they are just as entrenched as the leftists, and it’s frightening to think of ANYONE in power who thinks the best approach to offensive ideas is to FORCE people not to express them or FORCE them TO express them.

    I tried to engage with you. If I somehow offended you unjustly, then I apologize. I don’t like how you treated me, but so be it. I’ll get off the Billy-Go-Round, pack up my carnival and move on. I affirm your right to express yourself in whatever way you see fit. You have that freedom. Currently.

    But as you said, I’m not a lawyer.

  • guerillasurgeon

    1.Nice to see a mention of Clive James – thank you. Not very often anyone in the southern hemisphere gets any kudos for being a public intellectual. 🙂 Though you might have mentioned Peter Singer.
    2. I think the French still value their public intellectuals far more than the rest of the West to be honest. But then I think many of the newer Western countries like the US, Canada Australia New Zealand tend to disparage intellectualism in general. Maybe it comes from being a “frontier” society”, but intellectuals are often reviled where I live, because they couldn’t take an axe into the bush and survive or some such bullshit.

  • guerillasurgeon

    Fuck off troll. We already have Otto the goat who does your job.

  • Torment away! I’m not receptive to any supernatural talk, but I don’t idealize science either. I think the question of how much of reality we discover and how much we construct is a valid one.

    As Hilary Putnam, himself no fan of the postmoderns, once said:

    If objects are, at least when you get small enough, or large enough, or theoretical enough, then the whole idea of truth’s being defined or explained in terms of a “correspondence” between items in a language and items in a fixed theory-independent reality has to be given up.

  • You Aussies shouldn’t sell yourselves short. I could have named Singer, and Robert Hughes too.

    I agree with you about anti-intellectualism. Even good skeptics here at Patheos who deplore the Trumpsters and the fundies turn around and complain about the “postmodern bullshít” that I peddle round these parts. What’s the use of being a critical thinker if you’re not going to think?

  • I’d say that our society already has quite powerful and wide-ranging restrictions on the freedom of speech: copyright.
    We, as a society, decided that the free propagation of certain concepts involved in implementing the correct operation of many technological devices, would negatively impact on the profits of corporations, and thus the freedom to implement certain concepts, or even to propagate them, has been restricted. As an engineer, I have often signed away my freedom of speech to avoid propagating intellectual property that I develop under contract.

    It appears that ‘free speech advocates’ are surprisingly quiet on this affront to their freedoms.

    In the modern workplace, there are restrictions on the freedom of speech to avoid racist speech from being used in the workplace, with heavy fines or loss of employment for people who break that restriction. Many forms of racist speech do not directly cause harm, but they are banned nonetheless because it makes it more difficult for people of colour to be present in the workplace, and less-agressive racist speech does enable more agressive racist speech in the future, especially when the people who use it are not interested in the counter arguments.

    It is peculiar to me how people get up in arms when these workplace non-discrimination protections are extended to trans people, but these so-called ‘free speech advocates’ do not openly fight against anti-racism restrictions, or anti-sexism restrictions. Similar to how particular liberals are so quick to protest identity politics when trans people are involved, but are strangely guarded on black identity movements like BLM, loading their words with so many caveats to make sure that people don’t get the idea that they’re racist.

    What it exposes is that the afore described ‘free speech advocates’ are not interested in free speech as a principle or even as a principle guarded by ethical restraints. They’re interested in it only because they don’t want to have to change to accomidate people that society is just now starting to accept.

  • What it exposes is that the afore described ‘free speech advocates’ are not interested in free speech as a principle or even as a principle guarded by ethical restraints. They’re interested in it only because they don’t want to have to change to accomodate people that society is just now starting to accept.

    You got it.

    It’s the same phenomenon as the religious claiming they have a “right” to discriminate based on their faith. On the secular side of the coin, Peterson and his fanboyz are rewriting the Constitution in order to validate their contempt for “identity politics” and their indifference toward marginalized minorities.

  • I’d say its specifically because they hate the concept of trans women; its because we are deeply threatening to both masculinity and the gender binary upon which our society is based.

    We are the original bogeywomen: the word ‘bad’ is named after us:

    The nazis hated us so much, that they tried to erase us from history, destroying years of research into trans healthcare and setting us back by many, many decades:

  • Jim Dailey

    Have you heard the tape of Wilfred Laurier assistant professor Lindsay Shepherd being reprimanded for playing a tape of a publicly broadcast debate on the topic? A student filed an anonymous charge against her.
    It is pretty chilling.
    Here is link to the story

  • Jim Dailey

    Have you heard the tape of Wilfred Laurier assistant professor Lindsay Shepherd being reprimanded for playing a tape of a publicly broadcast debate on the topic? A student filed an anonymous charge against her.
    It is pretty chilling.
    Here is link to the story

  • Shepherd got reprimanded. Bad thing. But she also was never charged with anything, got exonerated and a full apology from the university.

    Let’s not make it seem like people are being stuffed onto trains headed for the Political Correctness Gulags just yet, okay?

  • Jim Dailey

    You do not seem to appreciate that “political correctness” can take many forms, and could easily be turned into a weapon against causes you hold dear.
    Anyway, this is proof positive that the enforcement of these laws will be left in the hands of petty beaureaucrats, who likely will not have noble motives when prosecuting a political enemy who has run afoul of an anonymous source, or, more likely, simply wants to make an example of some poor slob in order to show they are important and to be feared.
    I really wish you would listen to the tape of “interview.” It is truly an Orwellian nightmare.

  • tophilacticus

    I could see Peterson being the most influential intellectual on this side of the Atlantic for a number of reasons, though I am not certain what is correct. As you touched on, I think much of it is driven by technological change. In a world of tl;dr: speed, brevity, and simple language is what gets liked or retweeted and seen. There was an interesting study recently in Science that showed how false information and rumors travel much more effectively through the Twitterverse than substantiated information. This sets up a world of much intensity, little discussion, and many videos, not more than a few minutes long, titled “Peterson destroys _______.” Peterson seems to move around easily in the digital world.

    Part of this influence is coincidental – as I don’t think Peterson would be as well-known without the now famous incidences of him refusing to use gender-neutral pronouns. Specifically connecting that to the concept of freedom struck a nerve in the Right. (Ironically creationists and ID both attempted this exact same method under the guise of “Academic Freedom”). This tapped into the Right’s political moving force: fear and normative identity politics. His philosophy is rooted in the familiar. Christianity, determinism, importance of hierarchy (and patriarchy), well-defined gender roles, and the modern concept of objectivity makes Peterson an accessible intellectual, not only for the Right, but beyond (Chomksy seems in line with objectivity and rejecting post-modernism).

    The left seemed to enjoy a richer intellectual history, though it seems much of the recent political movements, Black Lives Matter, Me Too, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, indigenous rights, etc., are rooted in post-modernism and intersectionality, which are much more difficult concepts to grasp and coalesce around. The lack of a primary intellectual voice on the left speaks to how the left has radically changed, an effect of the diversity and intersectionality. I don’t know – I am kind of enjoying the plethora of influences on the left rather than the few. With intersectionality and diversity in a more web-based non-hierarchical structure: I am not sure how much more anti-Peterson this could be.

    Lastly, and sort of as an aside, the televised debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. in 1968 seemed to signify, not necessarily cause, some level of change. Today, I do not think many could stand watching Vidal and Buckley speak on TV (though I enjoyed seeing them in the PBS documentary The Best of Enemies), as the careful and academic pronunciations would come off as arrogant. The current anti-intellectualism seems to draw much from that. The popularity of that debate also sparked the rise of TV punditry, which seems to fit well in a world of ever-increasing specialization. I am not seeing many intellectuals that draw from an expertise across a broad range of topics.

  • Pomo, like everything else, obeys Sturgeon’s Law.

    So, 10% diamonds, 90% crap. The real problem comes in two varieties of denial:

    1. Those who deny the adamantine 10% exists; essentially, who you’re complaining about
    2. Those who deny that the 90% is something other than smelly crap; that’s everyone else’s complaint about you.

    Thing is, while a person may have an opinion about which is the graver error, from the outside both seem a bit silly.

  • You’ll have to excuse me, my country’s government has been taken over by white supremacists, the treasury looted by the high finance wheeler dealers, gun nuts and killer cops running rampant, and corporations are harvesting information about us to reinforce the surveillance state.

    Political correctness is quite a ways down on my list of worries, that’s all.

  • Jim Dailey

    So all the more reason to worry about laws being enacted that restrict free speech.

  • The rise of social media has a lot to do with this, it’s true. It’s not like I think things were ideal in the 70’s, either. It’s just that we have unprecedented access to books, information, and knowledge, but we’re not interested in anything except factoid wars. Science fetishism is just a replacement for religion: it’s an unquestionable source of authority and eternal truth, not something that’s supposed to be discussed critically and argued over.

    One of my loyal detractors fixed a message I had posted like this: “Nothing demonstrates a commitment to freethought more than insisting that everyone think the way we do.” It’s so ironic that the village atheist bunch see themselves as defending freethought and rationality, when they’re pretty much just as complacent and closed-minded as the fundies they criticize.

    As far as Peterson goes, I think his fanboyz appreciate that he sends the message that it’s okay for them to be indifferent to the plight of the marginalized and cynical about activism. White guys are sick of feeling guilty about privilege, so instead of doing something to make things more equitable in society, they just decide not to feel guilty about it anymore.

    There’s critical thinking for you!

  • Except that’s not what the laws do. The freeze peach crowd has just learned to use the First Amendment as camouflage for their bigotry and indifference.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    Hi Joslyn- Super interesting point about copyright and contractual limitation on speech. I think that could use a discussion of its own.
    To you next paragraph about speech in the workplace, I have been self employed over a decade, so I’m out of the loop in all things office and HR related. Can you fill me in as to speech limitations in the workplace and I think you mentioned racism in particular? Thank you.

  • Jim Dailey

    Is “freeze peach” an autocorrect?

    Well, how would you feel if, rather than expressing their ideas, they sought to shut down your ability to voice your opinions, labeling them as “hate speech” and “offensive”?

  • “Freeze peach” is just my pejorative term for disingenuous appeals to the Constitution as camouflage for bigotry and privilege.

    I’ll admit, I’m amused by the fact that the Peterson fanboyz here expect us to take his scaremongering at face value. He’s part of a campaign against leftist engagement that’s being fought in the press and across social media, where “SJW’s” are characterized as a horrific threat to our precious liberties even in the age of Homeland Security, corporate surveillance, militarized police, and the revocation of the voting rights of oppressed minorities.

    Pull the other leg.

  • tophilacticus

    I was first introduced to Peterson in a clip where he explained the nuances of the gender wage gap. I did not see what the hubbub, and in fact thought it an important discussion to get beyond the factoid. Then Peterson went deeper and employed biological determinism, which seems to be his modus operandi, drawing much from his experience in psychology and applying that, especially neurochemistry, to society. As much as I have enjoyed some of E. O. Wilson works, like his theoretical work on island biogeography and Conscilience, I find the influence of Sociobiology very troubling, especially in a world today where Social Darwinism enjoys a resurgence (Peterson, Pinker, Harris, Shermer and the like seem to enjoy speaking about how absurd sociology is, while anointing a nearly strict Darwinian view as objective).

    I think, as you said, the popularity of biological determinism today is it is a place where white men have found solace, as it enables them to justify their behavior, and to reminisce about the times our position was front and center and went largely unchallenged, and most importantly, creates a distraction to avoid looking inward. Spending a little time examining what is being said by the post-modernists in this will show this is not really about guilt, it is about seeing what has been an imbalance with deep roots in the west that is very difficult to justify but has been continually dismissed with ease. Their position, and one widely held in the sciences, that of the rational objectivist, is akin to what Foucault wrote about. The need for a scientific form of Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality is overdue. It seems few wonder how we have fooled ourselves with the present state of assumed non-bias. (One could examine the Darwinian emphasis on sexual selection, especially heterosexual sex, as a bias in how biologists view evolution. My own field of paleontology is rife with assigning purpose of ornamental morphology in fossils as for “mate selection” or “attraction/display purposes” or “competition.” It seems a view that holds these as a product of evolution, rather than purpose, would be less biased.)

    As you mentioned, I find Peterson’s connection of neutral and non-normative pronouns to cultural Marxism and the deaths of millions a bit simplistic, as it requires a deterministic and linear world, and hypocritical, as he sees himself as a cultural Christian – as if there haven’t been and continues to be countless deaths in the name of Jesus and God.

    I might give some credence to Peterson around the Human Rights Act amendment in 2016, as I do not particularly see a flawed justice system and some level of coercion the best means for societal/cultural change, if it weren’t for his ideological justification and his notoriety to directly challenge political correctness in an insulting way, then sit back and dismantle the emotional responses and cry foul. I do not really fault marginalized groups that use what tools remain available, including protests and ‘shutting down speech,’ in a world where their protections are rapidly diminishing.

    I also find it insidious for Peterson fans and the Right to blow that law and the reaction (and Bret Weinstein at Evergreen) out of proportion to make it seem like this is the norm across all academics, universities, and institutions, as if free speech is nonexistent with the left. An institution has the right to not want to be associated with a particular group. Universities do it all the time with the homeless and jobless who probably have more of a basic human right to be there, asking for help. Again I find it very ironic that rational atheists are employing the established methods of the Discovery Institute.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    If they had read Orwell, they’d realize that Peterson is wrong to suggest that Orwell had repudiated socialism.

    If you’d read the article you linked to, you’d realize that’s not what it even claims Peterson said:

    Peterson’s narrative reduces leftist sentiment to resentment, envy, and anger among society’s “losers.” This echoes George Orwell’s dismissal of British socialists as merely filled with spleen and bile against the rich; Peterson compares the analysis of the Left in Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier to Nietzsche’s critique of slave morality. Orwell rejected socialist “cranks,” a category that included feminists, in favor of a commonsense approach that appealed to the educated middle class, an analysis that pushed him rightward toward the end of his life.

    LOL, even the marxist Jacobin acknowledges that Orwell “dismissed” the socialist poseurs and shifted his political outlook.

    If you were interested in doing anything but bash a strawman, you’d look to Peterson’s own statements, and find he in fact openly supports many aspects of socialism.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    Interesting that as your example of an ‘intellectual’ scientist you select Stephen Jay Gould, who:

    * John Maynard Smith described as “as a man whose ideas are so confused as to be hardly worth bothering with” and who “is giving non-biologists a largely false picture of the state of evolutionary theory”;

    * Ernst Mayr said ”quite conspicuously misrepresents the views of [biology’s] leading spokesmen”;

    * Daniel Dennett described as a ’trickster’ who systematically strawmanned what other scientists thought, for example, falsely claiming evolutionary biologists believed in ‘gradualism’ and in evolution making ‘progress’;

    * Obstinately denied the orthodox recognition of the gene as the unit of selection and who described DNA as “merely bookkeeping”;

    * Fudged data to support his tendentious politicizing in The Mismeasure of Man;

    * Formulated the science-belittling, religion-friendly concept of Non-Overlapping Magisteria.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    Correctly observing that males and females tend to display differences in behavior is not “biological determinism”.

    The way you frame this, the only way to avoid “biological determinism” is to deny any differences between the sexes!

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    Give some examples of those diamonds in the pile of pomo crap.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    The accompanying Human Rights Commission policy statement stipulates monetary fines for non-compliance.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    Freedom from compelled speech is a civil liberty.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    1) Provide another example in a free society where a ‘trade-off’ involves compelled speech;

    2) Peterson does not believes the use non binary pronouns to be ‘minor’: he sees them as an affirmation of a sociopolitical and anti-science belief to which he does not ascribe.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    That’s now the law in New York City.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    It’s interesting that Shem does not once quote Peterson directly, and can’t even correctly summarize what is said about Peterson in one of his citations.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    So, intentionally refusing to use non binary pronouns will be punished by six-figure fines.

    How, exactly, does compelling employers and landlords to use made-up pronouns prevent discrimination?

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    Shepherd was informed she was guilty of “transphobia”. That was Laurier’s interpretation of C-16. Fortunately, she had the presence of mind to record her inquisition by her totalitarian employers, else no exoneration or apology would have been forthcoming.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    Freeze peach is a derisive term used by regressive leftists when they don’t want to come right out and say: only views and ideas I agree with should enjoy free speech protection.

  • tophilacticus

    That is not what biological determinism means (a form of causal determinism common in the natural sciences). It is also not what I said.

    Peterson goes beyond observing, and argues that roles in society result from biology, that they are predetermined in neurochemistry (and, as others have similarly argued, genetics). This is not only deterministic, it is reductionism. The problem with this is it greatly simplifies the reality of a situation-that society is an emergent property of a population of complex beings. The way to avoid biological determinism is not to deny anything as you suggested, it is to study roles within their context in society, rather than reduce humanity to an individual’s chemical components as Peterson has.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    Please provide a quote or link to where Peterson claims that.

  • tophilacticus

    It is his the central premise to his discussion on the gender wage gap. It is also the rationale behind the lobster analogy he employed to dismiss sociocultural reasons for hierarchy. At this point, I see no point in investing time in jumping through hoops for an insincere 1 to 2 sentence response.

  • Jim Dailey




    Someone REPORT HIM!!!!!

    And call the Wahmbulance, my FEELINGS are HURT !!

  • The easiest example is Frankfurt School Critical Theory, which successfully sheared Marxism of its teleological, practically eschatological garbage predictions–and pretensions towards being a positive scientific programme–and thereby made it more useful, and less dangerous, as a critical stance.

  • Chris DeVries

    I see a LOT of similarities between the behavior and motivations of evangelical Christians and the behavior and motivations of the alt-right. The article discussed here dissects the ramblings of the quintessential intellectual of the alt-right, Jordan Peterson, and finds exactly the same end result as journalist Chris Ladd finds in another opinion piece (cited below, originally published by Forbes, but removed from the site because it apparently painted the evangelical movement with “too broad a brush”…BS obviously, but whatever), except he’s criticizing evangelicals. The gist of both pieces is that apparently DOING STUFF to fix society is either wrong or pointless. Peterson encourages people to stop protesting and fighting social injustice at the societal level and instead, make sure that your own life is lived according to your ideals. And until your life is *perfect* (an impossibility) it’s wrong to complain about societal problems or to try to affect change (Peterson HATES protesters…well, at least liberal ones). For evangelicals on the other hand, their leaders have convinced them to believe all sorts of things that coincidentally act to prop up the status quo, from the prosperity gospel (i.e. rich people are favored by God and therefore if you’re poor, God doesn’t like you…you deserve poverty) to an imminent rapture event (which, if you believe in it, kind of makes taking action of any kind to improve the lives of actual humans on the actual planet Earth, pointless…Jesus is coming and the righteous will be saved, the unrepentent sinners condemned and our world as we know it destroyed). I think it is this shared impulse of not giving a crap about those who aren’t as fortunate as you that has fostered an alliance between these two groups, and a willingness to put up with Trump who is, in every way, the ideal example of a life lived based on the principles both groups truly believe in. A selfish life. A narcissistic life. A life with all of the trappings of power and none of the guilt that causes people to use their influence to help others. The leaders of both groups are basically telling their followers exactly what they want to hear, giving them permission to be the way they want to be. This is not just an impulse shared by these two groups – humans everywhere choose belief systems and make decisions for emotional reasons and then they look for ways to rationalize their behavior after the fact. But it is an impulse that you can fight by exposure to varying points of view, ideally the “steelmanned” arguments of your ideological opponents. This is not something I expect evangelicals or the alt-right to do anytime soon though – they are too busy congratulating themselves on breaking out of the mainstream culture and finding Truth.

    Additionally, I have noticed that people who have less control over their own emotional states than others, people who fear the future, fear the unknown, hate the other, rage against anyone different from them, yearn for simpler times when ignorance, superstition and persecution were much more commonplace (a time when the anxieties they have now could be assuaged by priests and prophets)…these people are most likely to go full totalitarian/theocrat, and try to control the behavior of others. Because that’s the alternative – either you learn how to deal with the varied anxieties that the gift/curse of consciousness creates in human brains, or you try to make your environment such that you never have to confront those anxieties head on. And since other people are part of your environment, they must play their part to make the illusion believable. It’s a ludicrous but very human impulse, and honestly, I believe we all, at some point in our lives, attempt this path. Most of us fail, learn that the problem is US, not the people around us, and find a way to deal. It is those who cannot deal who commit to this course, and the results are often tragic. Hitler himself blamed the GERMAN PEOPLE for the failure of the Third Reich. He never recognized his own flaws and failures, or the way his insecurities directly lead to genocide on a then-unprecedented scale.

    This is why the perfection Peterson demands in the personal lives of all people is dangerous. Perfection is impossible. To make the perfect the enemy of the good is to continually underachieve. A lifetime of such failure can cause people to look outside of themselves to place blame on the blameless, all because they were doomed to fail from the very start. Society can and should be changed by its members. It should be improved. People should pressure institutions like government to improve the quality of life of all people within that society, and around the world. We needn’t have perfect lives to care about injustice on a massive scale. We needn’t have everything figured out at home, in our comfy Western countries, before trying to improve less well-off places. A surefire way to doom humanity to a desperate, hopeless future is to preach against actually trying to make a difference. If Jesus was real, he would be PISSED at those people who have twisted his message to suit their own greed and narcissism.

    *The Chris Ladd article:

  • Peterson HATES protesters.

    This is the one reason that, everything about ideology and politics aside, Peterson makes an absolutely garbage “public intellectual”. I’ve never been impressed by his schtick but he makes an occasional point worth hearing, but any value he may add in this way is washed out by his sneering towards those who aren’t as outfitted with a platform to mouth off as he finds himself with.

  • Chris DeVries

    Exactly. He’s like a watered down Sam Harris. Both are (like most people) correct occasionally and wrong occasionally, but Harris actually has some good points that are worth listening to (and frankly, figuring out exactly why I disagree with him on the other issues has been very helpful for my moral development). He’s “right” about 60-70% of the time, enough that I see value in paying attention to what he says. Like the article discussed here says though, Peterson’s schtick (good word!) is a mess of incoherent babblings that only occasionally can be comprehended by the reader/listener. Many of the probable truths he speaks are so blindingly obvious to be useless (don’t lie…don’t do things you don’t like to do…duh?), and the rest of them, the ones that are actually thoughtful, even innovative, get lost in the storm of shite. I have listened to this man go on and on for like, 45 minutes, about “truth” on Harris’ podcast, and I still don’t know what he means. Does he believe in objective reality? If truth is defined by him to be that which is useful to the human species, is the truth of which he speaks the same kind of truth (in his mind) as the truths we know because of observation and experimentation? Or are those scientific truths (like the fact that Earth is 4.6 billion years old) not true at all to him because they haven’t helped people to survive?

    One can also think of him as an incoherent Dan Dennett. Dennett has redefined free will to make himself feel better about not having free will. But at least you are able to process his words and discover his meaning, confusing though his thought process is. Peterson wishes he could be that clear-thinking and speaking. Oh he has a wonderfully large vocabulary which he uses to bamboozle people into thinking he’s smarter than the average bear, and yeah, I think he’d score pretty high on an IQ test (meaningless though such a score may be). But he uses his intelligence to defend the prevailing social order, and criticizes those who attempt to deconstruct it to find its unfounded assumptions. He rails against post-modernism while essentially doing things that will lead to MORE post-modernism. By telling people not to protest, or not to try to affect the quality of public discourse in whatever way they can, he is encouraging everyone to accept the status quo, complete with the Trumpist movement that asks us to believe one thing one day and disbelieve the very same thing the next day. Truth is whatever helps the elites pay less taxes and have more power and control over everyone else. And the aforementioned claim of Peterson that “truth is whatever is useful to our species” seems to fit right in with Trump’s modus operandi (replace “our species” with “Trump”). If that’s not a recipe for a post-modern dystopia, I don’t know what is.

    And the fact that he’s getting so much attention these days is making things exponentially worse. He has very little value to society, maybe about as much as the average Kardashian, but because of the way he achieved his celebrity (railing against something that he felt would remove his right to be a jerk) the freeze peach morons in Canada and the US latched onto him like little lampreys, feeding his ego and, inevitably, expanding his audience…a humanities professor, an intellectual for the conservatives! Wow! I fear we’re in for years of having to listen to his incoherent rambling about how he loses his freakin’ mind every time a child disobeys him and doesn’t want to eat something. Or whatever. He’s a public intellectual who can represent the “right wing” side of any (fair & balanced) debate on any subject now, and say enough big words that people think he’s winning the argument. And the more people protest against him, the more influential he will become. Thus the strategy – ignore him. Let him do his thing and pay no attention. His strength is in his insistence that he, and people like him, are being persecuted for saying unpopular things. Let him be wrong in public…a lot. Eventually, his 15 minutes will end and he will go back to being a bad psychology professor at an overrated Canadian university. The End.

  • A surefire way to doom humanity to a desperate, hopeless future is to preach against actually trying to make a difference.

    Thanks for your astute analysis of Peterson’s Gospel of Perfection.

    I find it very telling that Peterson warns against trying to change the status quo, since the social order reflects the workings of some sort of mystical meritocratic process and it’s folly to try to make society more equitable. I’m sorry to say that a lot of science enthusiasts share this quasi-religious belief in society’s progress toward perfection.

  • People’s values are deeply embedded in their biology and genetic heritage.

    This echoes the Current Affairs editor’s complaint that Peterson’s speeches and videos are hopelessly self-contradictory. He makes it seem like he’s trying to analyze how societies construct meaning and value systems, but when it comes down to it, biological determinism better suits his the-social-order-is-the-way-it-is-for-a-reason defeatism.

  • Richard Sanderson

    Lysenkoism was a form of pomo in action.

    A denial of science to suit politics and “muh, feelings”. No one truth, and all. That turned out well…..

    I remember when we used to laugh at the creationists and religious nutters, with their anti-science drivel. Now, we hear it incresingly from the regressive left.

  • Anti-discrimination protections in New York City have existed since 2002 for other classes of discrimination (including verbal) including personal religion/creed, race, color, marital status, age, etc, including the commonly quoted $125,000 fine for violations in the workplace, and $250,000 fine for willful violations:

    The NYC Commission on Human Rights Legal Enforcement created a guidance to extend the new york city human rights law to cover gender identity in 2015:

    Not one person who complained about this had a single thing to say about all the other protections that existed for 13 years before this guidance, which indicates that they give precisely zero damns about freedom of speech:

    They only pay the term ‘freedom of speech’ lip service when they want to discriminate against trans people.

  • For Jordan Peterson’s case, he has made the hyperbolic comparisons of bill C-16 to improve the rights of trans people to genocidal regimes, completely ignoring neighboring provinces that already have the same protections in place, and the minimal changes that C-16 actually makes to existing legal codes, simply adding ‘gender identity and expression’ to lists of other protected classes, including religion and race.

    Essentially he just wants to ride the right’s anti-trans boner to get attention and followers- that’s all this is: throwing trans people under the bus to gain social momentum.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    I agree with you in that these are proper behaviors we should accept as obvious social norms. General respect for others has to be at the foundation of our society. I also agree with you about the hypocrisy.
    My struggle with this entire issue is this:
    If we don’t have the freedom of speech, we are limited to the kinds of conversations that will be required to solve the very issues threatening free speech. If we don’t feel comfortable saying what we think to be true without persecution, there is NO room for outliers to shift social consciousness. At that point our society will become stagnant and unhealthy.
    As for the actual speech we are talking about, I’ll be clear, hate speech is disgusting. Even so, we can’t drive those people underground. Let’s talk to them. Let them show themselves for the degenerative members of the community that they are. At least then we know who they are, they can’t hide their agendas. I’m talking about both the right and the left. I’ve heard terrible things come out of the mouths of both sides.
    We need to move toward an individualistic society, pinned with an emphasis on community envolvement. We need to get people to drop their tribalistic mentalities and start to identify with themselves instead of groups and ideologies. And we as a society need to support and encourage the individual. This looks like people stepping out into their communities to offer their individual strengths to benefit others around them. And on top of that, this has to be done in an entirely voluntary paradigm.
    We have a lot of work to do.

  • There’s so much ivory tower rhetoric here I just don’t know where to begin.

    This strain of free speech absolutism reeks of the same kind of privilege that makes people here in message-board world complain about being banned for abusive or disruptive behavior. People seem to believe that the right to free speech means that I can say whatever I want, no matter how offensive or inappropriate, and I should never have to suffer any negative consequences whatsoever for doing so. What kind of reality are you folks living in?

  • And the more people protest against him, the more influential he will become. Thus the strategy – ignore him. Let him do his thing and pay no attention.

    I wish I shared your optimism that this would work. Peterson and the freeze-peach fringe are running a pretty good scam. If they’re allowed to speak, they get a platform for their paranoid nonsense and reach more like-minded cranks; if they experience any pushback whatsoever, they get to complain that they’re being repressed, and this only amplifies their paranoia and delusions of persecution while also generating publicity.

    The light of reason and public debate doesn’t make these ideas magically go away, they normalize them. In any sane society, pushing that Obama birth-certificate nonsense would have doomed any public figure’s hopes to attain political office; instead, the guy who pushed it the hardest is sitting in the White House.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    If I sound privileged, which I most certainly am by the unimaginable good luck I have had in my life, Being born in America after the woman’s sufferage and civil rights horror this country endured, maybe you should consider your lot in life and what has led you to this moment right now. Here you are, having an online conversation, im assuming in a home that protects you from the elements, on a device that a child probably constructed for you, or at least a very low paid worker, saying what ever you want to say with out consequences other than online banter.
    The consequences of being a hateful dick should be that everone knows what you are about. The consequence should be public shame. Peer pressure is a motherfucker and we should use it to true the corner on these kinds of issues. But not strip away our constitution because you disagree with people who are clearly mentally unstable. (If you are a person who believes you are better than others because of the group you identify with, then, yes, I believe you are unstable.)
    You can “insult”my free speech advocacy by calling it privilaged. Our speech is clearly privilaged by the fact that we can use it without violence against us. Which is way more that much of the world can say.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    I don’t equate this to throwing trans people under the bus. The issue isn’t with protecting them from violence. The issue is with the required speech. I’m not trying to defend Peterson because he is some perfect beacon of virtue. The point is what got him in the hot water in the first place. Governments shouldn’t try to tell us what can say. Hate speech is a different thing. Inciting violence is a different thing. It shouldn’t be inconsequential to use hurtful language, but it’s more hurtful to not be able to use your language at all. Just because you have the right to say whatever you feel you need to, doesn’t make it ok to disrespect people with that right. If you feel disrespected in an exchange, then stand up and say words to them that make you feel strong. But don’t rely on a bunch of white men to grant you immunity to assholes.

  • The issue isn’t with protecting them from violence. The issue is with the required speech.

    You’re not listening to what anyone else is saying here. As Nick told you above, the mere fact that you fetishize free speech isn’t the be-all and end-all of the discussion. As Joslyn has been telling you, free speech is just one of the issues that have to be addressed here. And as I’ve been telling you, just because you have the right to free speech doesn’t mean you should never, ever suffer negative consequences because of the things you say.

  • Okay, well…
    Outside of hatespeech and inciting violence, do you believe that freedom of speech is being threatened? What topics of speech, specifically, do you believe are being suppressed?

  • “The point is what got him in the hot water in the first place. Governments shouldn’t try to tell us what can say.”

    Given all the information I have provided you about the recent modifications that have been made to already existing anti-discrimination laws, what speech do you believe is being restricted, that isn’t hatespeech or incitement to violence?

    What specifically has changed recently to make you concerned about ‘free speech’?

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    The specific issue is compelled speech. It is very different for your government to legislate what you must not say, and using legislation to require you to use certain speech, because that essentially is a requirement to support with your speech. In the arena of transgender concerns, it seems obvious that using preferred pronouns would be the proper way of being, but the slope is slippery when you ask people to alter their speech to support an idea. Then you legislate the request, with the threat of fines and criminal punishment for non compliance. I know some would say this is alarmist thinking, but there is NO clear line to be crossed when you forcibly alter ones speech, with severe consequences for those who don’t fall in line. If you don’t think those possibilities are a reality, looking into what has happened with Peterson’s relationship with his employer Univerity of Toronto and what has happened in the Lindsey Shepard case. These are actual consequences of the legislation and the bill was only recently passed. You could also look into the Evergreen college case involving Brett Weinstein when the student activists decided to call him a racist instead of hearing his position. If people won’t acknowledge the danger of these kinds of bills passing through legislation, while the opposition is silenced from threats of unemployment or expulsion from campus, then you are agreeing to shut down conversation. That is why the free speech issue has come up again. Because if you regulate speech you are regulating people’s ability to think. Read 1984 again. Use your memory in a time frame longer than the last 2 months. We have had to address these problems and debates many times over the last century. Let’s not move backward.

  • You were talking about governments limiting the freedom of speech, not school campus student group or administration, so you must be able to tell me what legal rulings that you are concerned about, not memes circulating around the right wing tribe.

    Can you tell me, specifically, what bills you are concerned are restricting the freedom of speech, disregarding hatespeech and incitements of violence?

  • Joslyn, did you mean to delete two of your posts from this discussion today? I just noticed they were in the comments dumpster, and it said “deleted by the user” so they can’t be re-approved. My apologies for any inconvenience.

  • Yeah, I deleted them; I just thought those comments were getting a bit off track. My intention is either to get Lindsey to confront the right wing memes lack of evidence or dodge the question like your garden variety creationist.

  • Okay. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a Disqus glitch.

    My intention is either to get Lindsey to confront the right wing memes lack of evidence or dodge the question like your garden variety creationist.

    Take a wild guess where I’d put my money.

  • tophilacticus

    Yes it is causal determinism. I have tried to get into his stuff, to see what is the big deal, but videos proliferate his work. I much prefer the written word. Between his very expressive hands and his tendency to espouse what sounds like pseudo-intellectual gibberish-I have a difficult time following much of his stuff. He may very well have good points, but from what I have mostly seen it is Social Darwinism 101. A follow up piece by the same editor in Current Affairs is worth a read as well, as the author dissects the issue with using “rules” in Peterson’s book.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    The bill C16 is example enough as to the type of legislation to be concerned with. There is very real evidence that people’s live have been deeply disrupted, not just by legislation but the mentality of people looking to set examples. Again, proof of that if you want to look into it, is what happened to Brett Weinstein. If you want to talk about those issues that I’ve put forward, that would be a good conversation. What is happening instead, is that you want evidence of the most egregious extents of these disciplinary actions. Which isn’t practical because the legislation isn’t here in the states yet on a federal level.
    It seems to me that rather than have some foresight and anticipate where the legislation will take us, you suggest we should ride the wave of political correctness, so that people who are in opposition can have evidence that the legislation is a poor idea, if such evidence appears. I’m not intersted in a fly by the seat of our pants approach to citizen rights. It’s a really difficult coversation when my stance is that freedom of speech is at the heart of the right to protests, but also the right to disagree, and the opposition is open to dissecting that. I don’t frequent right wing circles so if my perspective mirrors those memes you are referring to, my opinion, independent of theirs, was concluded based on my understanding of history, current events like what is taking place in the aftermath of what happened at Evergreen College and my own life experiences and conversations with my peers. I am not a conservative and I am not a liberal. I form my perspective with my experience and critical thinking.

  • “was concluded based on my understanding of history”
    Says the person who accused social progressives of leading toward stalinist and/or nazi thinking, despite stalin and hitler being socially conservative.

    “I form my perspective with my experience and critical thinking.”
    I’m convinced. s

    “There is very real evidence that people’s live have been deeply disrupted.”

    1) You claimed that we were using the threat of fines and criminal prosecution without providing evidence.

    2) You are concerned with bill C16, despite providing not one shred of evidence that it has been used to suppress freedom of speech in the 9 months it has been law in Canada, nor is that the case for the guidance on NYC’s anti-descrimination law in the 3 years it has existed, nor the Equal Treatment act since it became law in Germany 12 years ago, nor the the Sex Discrimination Amendment since it became law in my country of australia 5 years ago. Do you think that’s not enough time for some kind of evidence for government ordered “compelled speech” to turn up, for someone, anyone at all to be able to allude to?

    3) Jordan Peterson, Lindsay Sheperd, and Brett Weinstein are still regularly employed in their same roles at their respective institutions. Does this count as deeply disrupted?

    Do you realize which other group screamed ‘free speech’ as their discourse was removed from academia as they denied direct questioning for evidence for their specific claims? Creationists.

    I can’t distinguish you from a creationist.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    Brett Weinstein is no longer employed at the university, or his wife. The president of his college allowed the experiment in anarchy to continue to the point that faculty was not allowed to leave the space they were blocked into. The entire campus was at the whim of children who thought they had identified a bad man and they were not willing to stop until he was no longer employed at the college. This was all in protest of Weinstein having a contrary opinion to a racist demand.
    Peterson has taken a sabbatical from teaching and his clinical work after members of his faculty signed a petition to have him removed.
    Both of these men received private communication from co faculty members saying that they agreed with them, but we’re unwilling to publicly support them for fear of losing their jobs.
    The problem with restricting speech, again, is that you suppress the thoughts of people, removing the possibility of discussion. If people cannot speak, they cannot think properly. There is no possibility to correct their thinking. But what is worse than that, if you demand what people must say, they will become fearful to speak what they really think and feel. There must be an understanding in the perception of a trans person to feel that type of suppression. To not be able to use the words that you know to be true, is to take your humanity from you. There is no reason justifiable to take that human right from someone. The issue we are talking about now is in the context of trans rights. But what happens when compelled speech is applied to a different issue. This is the slippery slope I referred to, but I view this topic in terms of racial issues, 2nd amendment issues, ECT.
    Last, because it is late, creationist make me laugh my ass off. Yay Science!

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I can’t help think that some caveat will at least cause a glitch in their logic. But it is really unsettling that people don’t understand how important this really is. I was just called a creationist. I get her point but she’s off the mark in a very hilarious way.

  • “To not be able to use the words that you know to be true, is to take your humanity from you. There is no reason justifiable to take that human right from someone.”

    What do you believe Jordan Peterson ‘knows to be true’ about trans people?

    Maybe, instead of cowering behind the facade of ‘freeze peach’, actually just come out and say it directly that you want people to be able to call trans women men and black people ni**ers and spread rumors about the Jewish Conspiracy, because it seems that those are the only “freedoms of speech” that you or Jordan Peterson put effort into defending.

    In my segment of the world, such people look like jerks rather than people who are legitimately interested in equality, and its unsurprising if their coworkers have a tendancy to loathe and democratically remove such jerks from the workplace.

  • If people cannot speak, they cannot think properly. There is no possibility to correct their thinking. But what is worse than that, if you demand what people must say, they will become fearful to speak what they really think and feel. There must be an understanding in the perception of a trans person to feel that type of suppression. To not be able to use the words that you know to be true, is to take your humanity from you. There is no reason justifiable to take that human right from someone.

    Just when I thought your sloganeering couldn’t get any more corny and self-serving, you up the ante by appealing to the transperson’s experience of legitimate marginalization to validate your fantasy of PC oppression by the trans-enablers.

    Wow. That’s what I call chutzpah.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    I am surprised I suppose that I need to point this out, but after your demands for evidence and the fact that I cannot supply you with an individualist perspective with out being called a transphobe or racist-
    Let me walk this one out for you with baby steps.
    If you did not return in kind when given a hile salute in Nazi Germany, you would be shot in the head in front of everyone as an example and if your family were properly indoctrinated, the would spit on you while you lay in the street.
    When Kim Jong Il passed, thousands of people took to the streets wailing because it was in their best interest to not be viewed to be happy the dictator was dead. They were literally trying to one up their neighbor with grief to save themselves from execution.
    This is the result of compelled speech in the time of Hitler, this is the result in the time of modern dictators and I seriously urge you look into these tools of ideology before you decide that you are so special, you deserve to take that human right of freedom of thought through speech away from millions of people, so you feel recognised and respected. I suggest if you don’t like freedom of speech you should move to North Korea so daddy Dictator can tell you what to say. Oh, wait. They kill trans people there. Well, I guess you’re stuck over here where they try to talk to you about it instead.
    So if you are thinking of some more self righteous insults to throw my way, don’t bother. You’ve become a troll in my eyes. Have fun with your discussion.

  • Yes Lindsey, trans people are forcing you at gunpoint to use the correct pronouns 😛

    So brittle.

  • tophilacticus

    Well – if you are in the UK this summer, you cannot only see Harris and Peterson at a speaking event, but you’d get the added bonus of Charles Murray being there too. It is called “Winning the War of Ideas.” Really.

    I use to enjoy Harris a while ago – I still enjoy him when he discusses A.I. Seeing him prop up the likes of Murray and The Bell Curve is a bridge too far. He seems too busy pointing the finger at those that protest (or Ezra Klein) to notice that the allure of free speech rights being infringed has significantly influenced his logic.

  • Chris DeVries

    I don’t think I’d attend that even if I was able to get to the UK. If it was just Harris, maybe, but Peterson annoys me, and Murray confuses me. Regarding that confusion…I think I understand why people have demonized him so much. He wrote a book that told the intelligence story from ONE point of view, basically ignoring many other perspectives. That point of view has truth to it, but it’s not complete, and (naturally) it clashes with some peoples’ cherished worldviews. But I see his book as a long form essay, kind of like other popular science books that claim to be able to use rational analysis of a problem and a modern understanding of a discipline to change how you view current events or something. He has a point of view and he supports it with evidence to be sure, but his point is not to give you a nuanced perspective on intelligence, it is to convince you that he’s right. That’s not racist – it’s polemical. Most of the things he argues in that book are in some way correct – they just don’t tell the whole story. And he says right in there that one of the points of his work is to improve equality of opportunity – to better understand how we can give all children the tools they need for success in life.

    Personally, I think the main problem with the approach he took is that people have used it to prop up THEIR racist beliefs. And frankly, that’s not Murray’s fault, nor is it a reason to make him an academic pariah. Had he written a different book that also presented an incomplete (I hesitate to say one-sided, because The Bell Curve isn’t exactly one-sided, it’s just…incomplete) assessment of the research on a topic, and that book did not reveal information that clashed with certain peoples’ cherished beliefs, he’d have been just another academic with a weird hard-on for pushing his own ideas at the expense of others. As Harris says, much of what Murray wrote is mostly true – G is a real thing, IQ approximates it fairly well, people’s IQ is predictive to a certain degree of their success in life, mean IQ differs amongst populations and those differences are genetic AND environmental. There’s certainly more to the story: some people have a facility for languages and become polyglots. Others are amazing at music, or math, or words. IQ tests measure a small subset of those abilities, but what they do find is that being good at one thing indicates you might be good at other things. Thus the predictivity of IQ. And because at least part of intelligence is genetic, some people can be given all of the tools to succeed and fail just the same. It fits very well with Harris’ denial of free will – a good environment can change how genes are expressed, and we should all want children to grow up in the best environments possible so that they can maximize their potential – nonetheless, that potential is BOUNDED. And the choices that people make aren’t really choices, they’re the result of influences from genes and environment/experience. Rich people don’t deserve their wealth any more than really poor people deserve their destitution. We all play with the cards we’re dealt. And the key for policymakers is to ensure that everyone starts with a decent hand.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    As to your assertion that some people are not mentally tough enough to handle Nazi rhetoric- those people need to ask themselves why they aren’t strong enough and what they should do about it. Because, at some point, they will need to be mentally strong or the world will break them. I don’t want that. I want people to find strength in themselves so they can make themselves a force for good and then go out into the world and affect change. There is a true battle happening. If they aren’t prepared for it, these people who say if your speech is offending, you shouldn’t be allowed to say it, are going to crumble. I want them to show their power by being unaffected by stupidity and hate and be a beacon for others for how to interact in the world.

  • I want them to show their power by being unaffected by stupidity and hate and be a beacon for others for how to interact in the world.

    I appreciate how the people who are the target of hate speech and intimidation are the ones who need to take responsibility for their behavior and set an example, not the ones who are dishing it out.

    How convenient.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    That is an untrue summarization of my words. One way to take responsibility for yourself is to take other’s words at face value and not to interpret them in the most hellish sense. I use my experience to strengthen me so that I can interact in the world in an effective way. I don’t wallow in my own experience with oppression, I rise above it. I expect the same from my peers. If they choose to revel in their victimhood and expect the world to change for them, instead of using pain as a drive to reach their highest potential, I cannot get on board with that. Why the hell do you think underdog stories are so inspiring? Because people crave the ability to take the oppression they feel and rise above it so they can say, “you tried to keep me down, but I am more powerful than you realize and watch while I live this life exactly how I choose. Nice try, but fuck you.” That’s the hero myth. And by the way, if you insist that people are so marginalized and weak that they will never be the hero in their own story then perhaps you are no ally. Think about yourself, Shem.

  • Your ravings don’t change the fact that you don’t seem to think people should be responsible for their speech and behavior toward minorities; you just think the minorities are obliged to listen without complaint to hate speech, dehumanization, and calls for oppression and discrimination against them.

    Quit trying to take the moral high ground here.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    They don’t have to listen, but if they want make sure those voices don’t overwhelm public discussion they need to be present to oppose them. This is how social change works.

  • tophilacticus

    Well, I wouldn’t be too interested either, I thought it was odd to read the announcement of the event (and the title), and find your post connecting the two on the same day. I would not be interested in seeing Peterson either, even his self-help stuff I find too rigid (and btw that is no knock on self-help as there is some great stuff out there. I am more of a fan of principles or steps that allow flexibility for an individual or group rather than rules.)

    The demonizing of Murray could also emanate from the book’s subjects that have a horrendous history: the intersection of intelligence and IQ, genetics, and race. It is not exactly like the public trusts scientists of any sort around this. I would say rightfully so, especially political scientists who have had the ear of politicians. I also am not sure we have earned the public’s trust- given that science is intertwined with things that brings harm faster, better, cheaper, and bigger (and now much much smaller). I guess that is where I take issue with Harris (and Pinker) who tout the benefits of science, tech, and medicine, while deny the harmful consequences- ignoring the double-edged sword of science and Progress.

    I am not sure I would go to hear Sam as I could not take too many Samisms, especially around his defensiveness of The Bell Curve. If someone puts out a book, like The Bell Curve, where it has some level of truth, but that truth is framed within a larger political narrative in the book, a narrative that often toes if not crosses the line of fear-mongering: I am not clear how that is a work of good science as Sam presents. At least that is the impression he gives by dismissing attacks on it as if they were PC (and not science). Even discussions around the specificity of concepts frustrate him. Sam brought up The Bell Curve with Siddhartha Mukherjee, who spent a few moments discussing the language, that heritability is a statistic for example. If I remember correctly, Sam later spoke of this exchange as an almost complete breakdown in the conversation (This is an example of a Samism-why I no longer listen to him).

    I would go further to say even as a work The Bell Curve does not seem that great. Throughout much of the book, Murray over emphasizes his biases and concerns (the importance of intelligence, that genetics plays an important role, while diminishing or being vague about the environmental factors that affect intelligence and epigenetics). Even the concepts like IQ and intelligence are not concrete and definitive, as IQ may not be purely a measure of intelligence but other factors like motivation. At the end, the conclusion backs off the buildup throughout much of the book and does not seem well framed–especially given the history of the subject in society. To me that seems disingenuous, as in the preface Murray and Herrnstein acknowledge this likely will be weaponized by some.

    In a world where few have a clue what DNA, heritability and epigenetics means, this is especially dangerous. The numerous headlines that announced Scott Kelly’s DNA is 7% different from his twin brother after year in space, serves as a recent example of this. Murray has essentially made a missile, gives it to reader while stoking fears about the future, then lets them decide whether it is a rocket that will send someone to space or or if it is a missile meant to kill. But Sam and Murray are right….

    I am much more of the opinion that scientists (and scholars) have some responsibility to speak out about how their work is used (and others too). This is coming from one who staunchly held the “it’s not science line” for some time. In interviews I have heard, Murray does says he wants good for people and society, and I believe him. However, this seems more of a concern for he and his work is perceived by others, rather than how other’s perceive him and use the work.

    Regarding Sam’s concept of free will as an illusion, like Pinker, Peterson and Murray, it seems too deterministic for my taste. On one level, limits when applied to an individual seems fraught with issues when rooted in groupings based on averages, statistics, and probabilities, the language of indeterminism. At another level, from what I have read of “free will as an illusion” per Sam, it focuses more on a particular moment, or a few, rather than the indeterminate trajectory that it is.

  • “Those voices” wouldn’t overwhelm public discussion in the first place if disingenuous freeze-peachers didn’t enable them by calling for an anything-goes policy on bigotry, hate speech, and intimidation.

    You’re just making it so that any bigot or white supremacist group gets a public platform and can say anything with impunity, and then you’re telling the minorities who’ll suffer the social consequences that it’s their problem. How compassionate of you.

  • Lindsey Zimmerman

    Those idiots already have a platform. So do you and so do I. Let’s not confuse our social responsibility with a need for restrictive legislation.
    Can we do a thought experiment?
    What if Bret Weinstein decided to sue Evergreen University for libel and slander because the racist accusations against him caused him to lose his position. The court rules in favor of him, saying that not only is there no evidence that he have demonstrated racist or bigoted behavior in the past, but there is clear, documented evidence of him actually being an advocate for minorities in the past. Would you a) agree with that decision and b) would you discourage others from using those same tactics to disrupt innocent people lives in the future?

  • David Barber

    Your comments seem rather presumptuous and dismissive; almost emotionally rather than critically engaged. “Enjoy positivists like Peterson all I want”? You write as if I don’t value science, I do. I value evidence and facts. My point was that even now with cognitive psychology and neuroscience we don’t have the evidence to dismiss other theories an disciplines.

    Peterson is clinically influenced by psychoanalysis, and by cognitive,-behavioural and other approaches, so your labelling is too narrow. From what I see he clearly states he doesn’t have all the answers, has referred to the latest technology that is revealing more about the brain and how it works, and wouldn’t be as quick as you seem to be to dismiss something just because we haven’t (yet) proved it.

    Positivism, as you seem to feel, would deny all that can’t be proven as not existing. Am I wrong? My feeling is that it’s early days and interesting times.

    I wonder how you will feel if the research and results end up confirming the subconscious, which apparently they may have, and validating earlier theories? Me? I don’t care one way or the other. I tend not to jump to conclusions.

    Slowly and surely we will learn more and refine our knowledge. Until then, I’m not ready to throw away theories and ideas, especially as there are many, many people more educated and knowledgable about the subject than I who still hold them.

  • David Barber

    The wording is very cleverly insinuating that Peterson is a fascist, racist, misogynist by using literary devices: “Peterson’s fans argue that he is not….” and “not a …, just a…”

    1) There is a large and very obvious “but” hanging over the sentence, suggesting that he is, of course, these things, but “his fans” say otherwise.

    2) The use of the word “fans” as opposed to followers is also purposeful to invoke “pop” fans who love their idol regardless.

    3 The sentence includes “excuses” for each accusation, suggesting they are simply excuses to deflect reality, as any “fan” would.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the writer chose these words carefully to insinuate that Peterson was these things and only his fans could make excuses for him, as we all know “fans” do.

    This is rather clever writing, and all the more nefarious because of it.

    Perhaps you didn’t see it, but words have power and from the example of e.g., Mark Antony and throughout history we should learn to critically filter all that we digest to avoid being manipulated. With so many dishonest people writing for magazines and journals as “journalists” when they are anything but impartial, this is becoming more and more difficult.

    “Isn’t that what Peterson’s fans say?” Read what his subscribers say and make your own mind up. They aren’t a homogeneous group.

  • The wording is very cleverly insinuating that Peterson is a fascist, racist, misogynist by using literary devices: “Peterson’s fans argue that he is not….” and “not a …, just a…”

    1) There is a large and very obvious “but” hanging over the sentence, suggesting that he is, of course, these things, but “his fans” say otherwise.

    I never said or implied that Peterson is a racist, misogynist, or fascist. If you’d like to have an argument with someone who thinks Peterson is any of these things, I guess you’ll have to look elsewhere. It’s too bad you’re unable to engage with any of the things I’ve said about his approach to free speech and his exaggerations about the Canadian anti-discrimination law in question.

  • David Barber

    Stick with the thread. Nothing from you about his attitude to free speech and the anti discrimination law that I haven’t already answered. His concerns have since been vindicated by the case involving the TA.

  • Um, you mean the TA who was never charged with anything and given a full apology from the university?

    Mass graves, people! Mass graves!!

  • David Barber

    1) She was charged by the university staff under the HCR and it was clearly alleged she’d breached in the interview. This was, thankfully recorded, but if you want to disagree with lawyers and journalists who now seem to suggest the case does vindicate Peterson, then do so.

    2) You clearly don’t understand how ideologies take control of mindsets and develop. Peterson, thankfully, does as it’s his field of expertise. Orwell was also pretty well versed in the subject. By the time we get to mass graves, it will be too late. That’s the point of warning!

  • I’m not trying to say that the whole Lindsay Shepherd incident was just peachy. I think the school overreacted. But let’s keep this in perspective: it doesn’t even remotely vindicate Peterson’s scaremongering rhetoric about totalitarianism.

    Look, I get it. You’re much more upset by measures designed to protect transpeople from discrimination than by the discrimination itself. Congratulations on your big ol’ social conscience.

  • huzonfurst

    I have never known Dr Peterson to intentionally lie about anything, but people like you who judge others with insulting words rather than honest questions are a dime a dozen on the Internet. You lose all credibility when you resort to this childish behavior.

  • valleycat1

    Latecomer to your site. I was going to post that apparently this older white female USA citizen is feeling totally out of the loop because I have never heard of this guy, billed as the most influential intellectual in the Western world. Then I decided to do the Google and found that his audience base is pretty much the opposite of who I am. And this interesting recent article in the Washington Post that bears some relevance to your article:

  • JBUB

    “Russell, Sartre and De Beauvoir, sociologists such as Foucault, cultural historians like Robert Hughes, critics like Susan Sontag and Clive James, scientists like Stephen Jay Gould”
    This group is the best you could come up with?

  • I dunno, they seem like pretty well-rounded folks. Which names would you come up with, from then or now?

  • I’m a middle-aged white man, so I’m definitely not Peterson’s prime demographic either. But to me it’s surprising that a guy who is no less nutty and shallow than Leo Buscaglia has an army of adoring millennials posting his YouTube videos all over the blogosphere, and acting like he’s a profound and original thinker.

  • Dave Kinsella

    You clearly do not have a grasp of what Peterson actually believes. I keep hearing and reading liberals and leftists say these things. And for a while I was persuaded by them until I actually gave him some of my time.

    It’s like the giddy Fundamentalist Evangelical 20-something year old who hears what his pastor is telling him about various “heresies” and “cults” and instead of honestly engaging with their ideas, instead goes on a witch hunt to destroy them in the name of “Truth”.

  • Raging Bee

    I notice you don’t actually say what, exactly, Peterson is right about where the “liberals and leftists” are wrong.

    If Peterson is such a wise and insightful dude, how come the only people actually quoting and addressing what he says are his opponents?

  • Raging Bee

    Actually, like most manipulative con-artists, he’ll be able to capitalize on us ignoring him, just as he’s able to capitalize on the kind of attention he’s currently getting. Another tactic I could suggest (not the only one to be used, of course) would be to simply keep on asking his defenders what, exactly, Peterson has to say that’s supposed to be so wise and worth our time…and watch them promptly shut up and fade away every time.

  • Blivan

    this is pretty amusing to look at today. look how wrong and dumb your comments are… Peterson (who I don’t care about at all) has the number 1 selling book in the world. and, yeah, trump is the fucking president.
    “..the more they spout their crap..”, “no one is being convinced of anything..”
    lol whooops
    it might be time to re-think some of your ideas about how the world works, professor.

  • Dr Sarah

    Quick note: your link to ‘Code of Shemmurabi’ in this post is wrong.