George Orwell is often credited with saying, “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” If this is true of anyone in our time, it is Professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto.
In late-September of 2016, Professor Peterson took to YouTube to criticize the infamous Bill C-16, the legislation surrounding which made the use of non-binary preferred pronouns mandatory and criminalized ‘misgendering’ of those who identified as non-binary. The videos received widespread attention from both sides of the political spectrum, ignited a series of protests on the University of Toronto campus, demanding that Peterson be fired from his teaching position. However, the videos also garnered international attention for Peterson, who is now seen as a free speech fundamentalist and an outspoken critic of cultural Marxism and postmodernism. Peterson’s YouTube videos have gone viral, with many posting testimonials of how his lectures have changed their lives. Peterson has been invited on various TV networks, participated in debates and dialogues, and has given lectures on various university campuses. Some of his events were interrupted by protesters (including this one at McMaster University, where he was disrupted with chants of ‘transphobic piece of s**t’), and at least one event that was supposed to be held at Ryerson University was shut down by local socialist groups.
One year later, Jordan Peterson is still teaching at the University of Toronto. Retaining Peterson gives relief to many in showing that it still values, academic freedom, to some extent; nonetheless, his ideological enemies have not given up on trying to have him removed from his professorship.
On October 25th, 2017, Peterson took to Twitter, tweeting a picture of one of many posters that had been put up in his neighborhood, saying, “Those who consider themselves my enemies have been posting these all around my home neighborhood.”
Picture of the poster
After referring to Peterson as one who is ‘campaigning against the human rights of women, people of colour, Muslims, and LGBT people’, it described him as having ‘open associations with neo-nazis and the alt-right’, and as being referred to as a ‘nazi philosopher’ by the leader of a political party in Canada. At the bottom, it required readers to contact David Cameron, Dean of the University of Toronto, and demand that Peterson be fired or disavowed by the university.
Before we proceed any further, let’s take a second to examine these claims.
Has Peterson ever campaigned against the human rights of women? There is no available evidence for this claim. Peterson has talked about why women are so few in number in high-paying jobs, he has talked about differences between men and women in psychological terms, and he has spoken out against androgynistic feminism in a conversation with noted feminist Camille Paglia. There was an incident where he talked about men being powerless against ‘crazy women’, in reference to a female activist who had successfully managed to have an event of his shut down. When the quote is viewed in context, Peterson is understood to be saying that men are often defenseless against attacks from females, for they cannot respond in the same way as they would when a man is attacking them. Has Peterson ever actively campaigned against women’s rights? Again there is no evidence. In fact, he has criticized Saudi Arabia for not giving women the same rights as men, and the feminists for not addressing this issue.
Has Peterson ever campaigned against the rights of people of color or Muslims? Once again, this claim has no evidence to support it. Peterson has interacted with various people of color on his YouTube channel, has consistently had people of color support his stance for free speech, and has had civil conversations with people of color regarding issues like Black Lives Matter and race relations. There is not a single instance of him making racist statements or actively campaigning against the human rights of people of color, as the poster claims him to be.
What about Muslims? It is true that Peterson was opposed to Motion 103, the anti-Islamophobia motion that was criticized by free speech fundamentalists for being the latest liberal attempt at shutting down criticism of Islamic ideology. Peterson is a strong critic of radical Islam but has made clear his intentions of wanting to dialogue with moderate Muslims from around the world, in order to build bridges between Islam and the West. Personally, I have several Muslim friends who are admirers of Peterson’s ideas; a few have even taken his classes. Once again, the claim that he is actively campaigning against the human rights of Muslims is a baseless one.
Lastly, we come to the claim that Peterson has campaigned against the rights of LGBT individuals. His ideological enemies could cite his opposition to Bill C16 and his refusal to use prescribed non-binary pronouns as evidence to claim that he has ‘discriminated’ against LGBT individuals. There are two things to be said in response to this. Firstly, discrimination does not equal ‘campaigning against the rights of…LGBT people.’ Peterson has never demanded that the fundamental human rights guaranteed to every Canadian citizen be rescinded or withheld from people of a certain gender or sexual orientation. Secondly, there is no evidence to show that Peterson ever discriminated against any LGBT person. All that he said was that he would not be forced to use a certain set of pronouns simply because it was legislated by law that he must do so. Peterson clarified that his motivation for doing so was not because he did not see transgender people as human beings, but that he sees a government that policies and legislates language as one that is on the path to totalitarianism. Peterson has also been a YouTube guest of LGBT personalities such as Theryn Meyer. Hence, we can conclude that there is no evidence to show that Peterson has ever campaigned against the rights of LGBT individuals.
Now, is Peterson a ‘Neo-Nazi’ or a ‘Nazi professor’? This is the claim that is easiest to debunk. For over thirty-five years, Peterson has studied authoritarianism and totalitarianism on both sides of the political spectrum, and has written his tour de force Maps of Meaning on this very topic. Peterson has spoken against the ideology of the Nazis, and has even pointed out how ordinary men were capable of horrendous deeds in Nazi Germany. Peterson has also spoken out against identity politics on both sides of the political spectrum, including the neo-Nazi rally at Charlottesville, calling the right out for ‘using the tactics of the enemy’. So once again, the claim that Peterson is a neo-Nazi or a Nazi professor is entirely without proof.
What then can we conclude, but that every accusation raised on the poster is false? And are not written statements meant to damage a person’s reputation classified as libel?
There is, however, another side to the story; one that gives us hope. The poster was put up by radical leftists, in hope that people would read it and would email the dean of the University of Toronto, condemning Professor Peterson. It might be possible that many have done so, but what we do know for sure is that the poster has also given rise to many emails to the dean, all written in defense and in support of Professor Peterson. Many of them describe the impact that Peterson has had on their lives, even though they live continents apart.
Here is a letter from a young student from Korea who was struggling with depression and failing grades, and was motivated to start working hard through Professor Peterson’s lectures on YouTube:
Here is another letter, this time from a lawyer in Toronto:
Finally, another letter, from the UK, crediting Professor Peterson’s lectures for turning this individual’s life around from a state of chaos into one of discipline:
From these letters, we can infer that, although Professor Peterson’s enemies attempted to slander him (and in this they might have succeeded to some extent) and get him fired from his tenured position at the University of Toronto, they also incited a series of responses from individuals who defended Peterson, citing the positive effect that he had on their life. I am certain that the above emails are only a sampling of the dozens of positive emails that have been sent to the dean. As a matter of fact, I write this as a young man (and a person of color), whose life was transformed by merely watching Jordan Peterson’s videos and meeting him once in person. We are all witnesses to the fact that he is nothing that the radical left in Canada has made him out to be. In Peterson’s own words,the truth is the antidote to the world’s problems; and he does his best to delineate truth and educate those around him, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, or race.
This is what makes Jordan Peterson a honorable man.
And as Orwell would point out, this is why the anti-free speech gang hates him, even to the point of attempting the character assassination of a respected man.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.