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09/25/2017

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Susan

I have heard Jordan Peterson talk at length about his objection to bill C-16, and I believe the sentence you selected to represent his beliefs is insufficient and doesn't represent what I have heard him say. For instance, his biggest objection, I believe, is his belief that the bill is compelled speech, meaning that someone would be forced to say something that they don't believe in. In the US an example would be forcing Jehovah's Witnesses to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school, which our supreme court decided was unconstitutional. This compelling of speech would also explain his comparing the bill to Marxism. It seems to me that you cherry-picked one sentence from the vast amount writing and debates he has participated in explaining his position, and are arguing against this one sentence. He has said a lot more about it, and his arguments are compelling (it's easy to google for anyone interested.) Also context matters.

Shelley

Hi Susan,
I think Ray intends to respond to you. In the meantime, however, I wanted to share with you this article (with video) that draws attention to more of Peterson's sexist views as well as his remarkable ableism: http://pressprogress.ca/university-of-toronto-professor-men-cant-control-crazy-women-because-men-cant-fight-them/

Ray Aldred

Hi Susan,
Thanks for the comment. From what I gather, your initial worry is that I am cherry picking some quotes of Jordan Peterson, and haven't represented his views accurately. You also appear to suggest that I am only using a small sentence and paragraph to represent Peterson's entire view on the matter.

I think first of all, it's important to remember that I am focusing primarily on his arguments for why he doesn't use gender-neutral pronouns, not his views on Bill C-31. I believe I made this point at the beginning of my post. The worry Peterson presents about so-called "compelled speech" is about the Bill, which I didn't want to address in this post.

I also want to make it clear that I've done a lot of research on Peterson's arguments, beyond the article I mention in this post, and as far as I can tell, Peterson commonly uses these talking points whenever he discusses the matter.

For several years, for example, Peterson has railed on about so-called "Neo-Marxists." He presents this worry in the debates he had at the University of Toronto and at Queen's lawschool. Additionally, he mentions this worry on Joe Rogan's podcast, and at multiple lectures he's given aren't even about pronouns. For example, he mentions Marxism, when discussing the reason he wants to start a new University.

Additionally, Peterson mentions "Political Correctness" on more than one occasion. He mentioned this in his debates, interviews he's given with Gad Saad, The Rebel news channel and beyond. The worry about preferred pronouns making language untenable was raised at his debate at Queen's law school and on Joe Rogan's podcast in both of his appearances there. He specifically brings up the 30 protected gender identities in new york on his first appearance on Joe Rogan's podcast, the Queen's law school debate, and in the article I've linked to.
He's also offhandedly referred to biological essentialism in his most recent interview with Joe Rogan and Bret Weinstein and in his discussions with Gad Saad. In one instance, I've seen him accuse his detractors as equating biological essentialism with nazism, which is vague, misleading, and downright wrong. There is a rich and detailed philosophical literature on biological essentialism, and I'd encourage anyone to read up on it, to get a deeper understanding of this issue (a good place to start is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on "Species").

Thus, I am most certainly not drawing from one limited source, but several. I'm also afraid I don't follow where I'm going wrong here. Does Peterson mention "Neo-Marxism" in his talks? Does he ever define it and unpack the notion? If not, my point remains that he's simply using the term in a vague and unhelpful way. Does Peterson not suggest that the inclusion of gender-neutral pronouns makes language untenable (take a look at the debate at Queen's when he explicitly presents this argument)? The point I'm making is that there are multiple instances where Peterson has used some variation of the points and arguments I mention in my post, and he's done so rather unthoughtfully. To the extent that he uses these arguments, my objections remain.

Shayne Clark

If I understand right, the problem with Jordan Peterson's arguments is that they boil down into undefined terms that alone don't call for the refusal of someone to be refused the courtesy equivalent to a nickname.

I can see where you can come to that conclusion with the frame of reference being that Jordan was arguing for the refusal to call people what they are. His words all have enough specificity for there to be seen that his problem is gender-neutral pronouns. He even says that he would not call someone something other than he or she.

Although with the frame of reference that these words are instated by law, by regulation. The argument that artificial words come into use all the time doesn't matter because those words aren't forced to be used under the punishment of fine or community service. It would be like making a typo in your science paper and being forced to pay $100 for not using the correct term. With people, you expect a certain amount of leeway. Where if you call someone he or she once, and they aren't of the pronoun, they wouldn't make charges. They would just ask you to call them something else and move on. Which would be the "natural" way a new pronoun would be formed - the word itself would still be artificial, I'd think all words are. If this wasn't under regulation, I'm sure Jordan would have no problem at all calling people what they want to be called. It's the thought that something as small as pronouns being regulated under penalty of fine would be an easy precursor to controlling more language. Which is Authoritarian. Perhaps I'm wrong about the fallibility of Jordan's statement, but it doesn't make sense to change pronouns. The most common use of pronouns is when your not sure who you are talking about or if someone else doesn't know who you are talking about or if the person isn't with you. Until gender neutral becomes visually distinguishable from he or she, referring to them as such would be confusing in an environment where the person in question is unknown. It would be comical if a gender-neutral person is being accused of a crime in a court-scene and the victim said "He did it" with an accusing finger. The victim unwittingly committed a crime right there, and you know that the gender-neutral person would make charges (any lawyer worth their salt would jump at the technicalities), especially if it stalled the victim's case against them. So changing pronouns doesn't help distinguish the gender-neutral identity as much as it let's other people get after you for not using certain words, thus compelled speech. It would be better just to call someone by name than use a pronoun. I don't call my sister by she. I use her name. Only if I talk about her with others would there ever be a need to say she, her, hers, etc. So I don't think the law or their use is for the better of the trans community. It's so that the trans community can grow more teeth, which can be argued to be better for the trans community but I think it puts more crap on the label of being trans. The trans community is pretentious about their pronouns therefore trans people are pretentious. Which is just wrong. Trans people want to be respected as another gender and believe that because male and female have pronouns they should too. Which I can get behind. That makes sense.

It shouldn't be the government's job to regulate pronouns though. If they start adding pronouns to include gender-neutral people in laws that's fine. Saying his/hers/*insert gender-neutral pronoun version of his/hers here* then that would be real progress and I would say a "natural" formation of language because a group of people started using a word out of the necessity of its creation rather than the threat of its lack of use.

I'm male and preferred to be called he. If someone kept calling me she over and over again I'd be really irked. But being able to make them pay cash over it is absolutely absurd. I'd just think they're an asshole; that should be enough social consequence for someone calling you names.

I may have missed the point of your article though which perhaps isn't to say that Jordan Peterson is wrong and should rot in hell, but merely to say that there are holes in his logic that can be perceived dangerously. More of a don't blindly trust the smart man because he is called smart, article, where the target is Jordan's audience and not knocking Jordan himself down a few notches.

I digress. Thank you for writing this piece. I enjoyed reading what people find perturbing about Jordan Peterson. I am personally glad there are people that take the time to think things for themselves before blindly accepting a man of authority's word. I hope to continue this dialogue. Ciao.

Lishui

Bill C-16 proposes to protect "gender identity" and "gender expression" under the Criminal Code of Canada. Any person accusing any other person of being inherently in the wrong because of his gender (such as initiating a frivolous class action rape charge against him, for example) or promoting the protection of one gender specifically to the exclusion of (and often overt or covert accusation of) another gender(s) would be committing a hate crime under the terms of the Canadian criminal code. Thus, anyone supporting women-only groups, movements to protect the rights of women (but not men), or harsher measures of investigation and penance against men than against women accused of the same crimes, would be breaking the law.
Now, I personally believe that any program, movement, legal action, blog post, etc that lauds one gender and accuses another gender (or genders) of being universally bad, wrong, or in any way universally anything is already unlawful and that to create an entirely new law explicitly making illegal something that is already unlawful is at best an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars. But there's a more sinister possibility to Bill C-16, which is that it may backfire and be used by individuals or groups identifying as one gender to dismiss the rights of persons of another gender (or genders).
So is it okay for anyone to question anything about this Bill? Or can only people identified as one (or more) specific gender(s) have an opinion?
Also, how do we know that Peterson opposes this Bill? And what about it do we know that he actually opposes? Does he oppose wasting people's time and/or creating a bill that at best enforces a law that already exists (but at worst adds fuel to the already strong anti-male/anti-"patriarchy" movement that is leading to real pain and discrimination for thousands of Canadians?)? Or does he just think that fighting about pronouns is stupid and that there are more important things to put our attention on? And is it a hate crime to not want to do something that other people want you to do?
Lastly, shouldn't you speak of Peterson using neutral pronouns or might it, perhaps, make your article a pain to write and odious to read?
I get the point you're trying to make in this article, but you use too many non-sequiturs, straw-person arguments, and appeals to incredulity and emotionality to support that thesis, and, with many of your examples, actually present ideas that may better support an inverse or opposite position.

Doris wrench Eisler

What is typical of Peterson is, first, that he has a very dramatic approach and gesticulates rather wildly to make a point. That may not be "narcissistic", a term he applies freely, but it's interesting. Secondly, he uses his status as a bona fide psychologist to establish the credentials of his argument, often bypassing common logic as though he has a free pass. That seems a breach of ethics of a sort.
Thirdly, he resorts often to ad hominem attacks, again using his bona fides, as in his discussion at an alt right TV site, when he referred ominously to the strange behaviour, allegedly, of the interviewer, Cathy Newman. As well, he doesn't seem to understand that neologisms come from below, as spaces open up for them, not from dictionaries. Shakespeare apparently originated many. Not accepting them until they are included in dictionaries is authoritarian. Being narrow-minded is a hallmark of authoritarianism. He fits.

Otto

"I think first of all, it's important to remember that I am focusing primarily on his arguments for why he doesn't use gender-neutral pronouns, not his views on Bill C-31. I believe I made this point at the beginning of my post. The worry Peterson presents about so-called "compelled speech" is about the Bill, which I didn't want to address in this post."

In his most recent interview with Cathy Newman, Peterson says outright that he would use the desired pronoun of a student in one of his classes, but the situation has never occurred. The real issue is compelled speech, which Peterson sees as the invasion of linguistic domain in order to harness power on behalf of radical leftists. Moreover, the instantiation of compelled speech laws does not necessarily mirror the collective consensus of the Canadian trans-community. In fact, many trans Canadians have opposed Bill C-16. The real issue Jordan Peterson foresaw was the misinterpretation of Bill C-16, which has already occurred at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario in regards to their recent despicable persecution of Lindsey Shepard. If you don't believe it, then just listen to the recording she made during her meeting with University admins. Unfortunately, Bill C-16 has already proved to be a means of quelling freedom of thought, and in that regard, Peterson was got it right.

Dennis

Edit: Typos:
Your analogy about "creating words" and "making them up" being a normal process, referring to other crafts doing it as well, is a flawed comparison, as insofar that Peterson's rejection goes against legislating the use of one's own language, while your example just adds a new descriptor to the pool of available tools, free for people to decide to use, or not.

The main issue of the topic is that the identifier, by which any individual can be demanding the use of words with respect to their persona, is rather unlimited. Making a precedent of compelled speech based on the demand for respect opens up Pandoras box. There can be any number of rules that could be set in place to legislate on any number of criteria how an individual is deemed to be "respectfully treated". That is not just absurd for practicality (->"Oh, hi Susan, wait let me look up your pronoun, I think it was on page 4") but also absurd for defining boundaries.

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