Have Archetype — Will Travel: The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon

Michael Shermer in Skeptic:

Before 2016 Jordan Peterson was indistinguishable from any other relatively successful academic with a respectable scholarly pedigree: B.A. in political science from the University of Alberta (1982), B.A. in psychology from the same institution (1984), Ph.D. in clinical psychology from McGill University (1991), postdoc at McGill’s Douglas Hospital (1992–1993), assistant and associate professorships at Harvard University in the psychology department (1993–1998), full tenured professorship at the University of Toronto (1999 to present), private clinical practice in Toronto, and a scholarly book by a reputable publishing house (Routledge). This ordinary career path turned extraordinary in 2016 when the controversial Bill C-16, a federal amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code, was passed, “to protect individuals from discrimination within the sphere of federal jurisdiction and from being the targets of hate propaganda, as a consequence of their gender identity or their gender expression.”7That sounds reasonable enough: if we’re going to protect people from discrimination based on race, age, sex, and religion, why not gender identity or expression as well? Who would disagree with this clause in the bill?

[A]ll individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

To me this reads like another step on the moral arc bending toward justice. But in a series of YouTube videos Peterson outlined his concerns (dread really) that Bill C-16 could turn into “compelled speech” that, if not obeyed, could land one in jail for not addressing someone by their preferred pronoun (zie, xem, hir, ve, xe, xyr…).8 Peterson went on record stating, “I’m not using the words that other people require me to use, especially if they’re made up by radical left-wing ideologues. And that’s that.”9 Even more emphatically, he told a television audience, “If they fine me, I won’t pay it. If they put me in jail, I’ll go on a hunger strike.”10The image of a Canadian psychology professor on a hunger strike over gender pronouns is a little hard to equate with Gandhi’s emaciating efforts to break free his country from British rule, but it’s a sign of moral progress that we’ve shifted from condemning colonization to protesting pronouns.

More here.

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