Canada: Jordan Peterson Takes on the PC Language Police
By Ben Jackson
University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson has recently amassed a considerable international following on social media due to his unique take on political correctness and free speech. By lending his perspective as a PhD in personality psychology, he brings unique insight to current events, and identity politics issues of today.
Peterson’s popularity and influence blew up overnight following a video that he made in the wee hours of the morning, in which he ranted about the Canadian bill C-16, and the dangers it would pose if it were to be made law.
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In a nutshell, bill C-16 purports to be about “equal rights” for LGBTQ persons. The nitty gritty details include provisions about the use of alternative pronouns for transgender people who prefer a pronoun other than those pronouns which already exist in the English language for male and female people. It is very easy to misunderstand the issue at hand, supposing as his detractors would have you believe, that Dr. Peterson is a “trans-phobic bigot” who refuses to recognize male-to-female or female-to-male transgender expressions. That is not the case.
The issue is actually about the use of alternative pronouns, corresponding to concepts of gender that are neither male nor female. These concepts do not reflect any reality that human beings have ever recognized before, and are therefore not represented in any language. For these words to be included in anyone’s spoken vernacular, their use would have to be mandated. The distinction is key.
Peterson himself has stated on numerous occasions that he in fact would use a transgender person’s pronoun of choice, as long as it was either male or female. If you don’t believe me, one of the easiest ways to see for yourself would be to see his own videos in which he speaks with fellow YouTube content creator Theryn Meyer, who is transgender herself, and goes by “her” and not “xer”, or any of the other supplementary pronouns pushed by bill C-16. Sadly, his protestors have not bothered to do this minimal research.
You may be asking yourself why it took a university psychology lecturer to bring continent-wide attention to the issue of compelled speech and how it relates to LGBTQ politics. The answer lies in the body of expertise that Dr. Peterson happens to possess; the rise of totalitarian states such as Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia; specifically, the psychological processes that lead average citizens to be indoctrinated into supporting such regimes despite the egregious atrocities and the tyrannical lack of individual freedoms associated with them.
Bill 89 in Ontario has recently passed, and this bill allows government institutes to take children away from families on the grounds of parents disagreeing or not accepting their under-age child’s unconventional gender identity. I could write an entire piece on this issue alone: the way it infringes on the parents’ freedom to have their own opinions, and the way it pushes decisions on underage kids that they are not yet prepared to make. It also discourages dissenting opinion about the science behind transgenderism, and therefore limits our chances of ever fully understanding it.
Given the landscape of a Donald Trump presidency, it should come as no surprise that people are taking alternative sources such as independent, patron-funded YouTube accounts to educate themselves. Peterson’s lectures, both old and new, represent an avante-garde movement in the academy, providing educational alternatives to mainstream liberal arts perspectives. The tendency for the vast majority of tenured staff in any humanities department throughout the Americas is to favor a leftist –often even blatantly Marxist- ideology. Peterson’s YouTube audience, which has recently spiked to three hundred thousand subscribers and counting, is proof positive that people are hungry for an alternative point of view.
Dr. Peterson’s manifesto has provided an entire generation access to a proverbial red-pill, and explanation of the madness they witness every day. The unorthodox avenue to overnight notoriety that has worked for Dr. Peterson is a subversive victory for independent thought against calculated, and long-established institutional indoctrination at the university level.
His infamy even earned him a chance to speak before the Canadian Senate during a hearing concerning his nemesis: the ever-so problematic Bill C-16. As of today the bill is still before the senate. We can only speculate to what extent Dr. Peterson’s words and popularity have affected the Senate’s apparent indecision on the issue, but I am optimistic that he is speaking for a majority that has been too long silent on issues of political correctness. This is a sign of continued resistance to these kinds of laws in the future.