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Ettore Fiorani
Ettore Fiorani is a student in Criminology and Political Science at the University of Toronto.

Setting the Record Straight – Why Peterson is Right

 

peterson

For over a month now, the University of Toronto has been engulfed in a debate over free speech and transgender rights. These issues are always present on university and college campuses. For example, we’ve often seen controversy over offensive Halloween costumes, or whatever else happens to be offending the prima donnas on the radical left. Psychology professor Jordan Peterson, however, has brought these controversial issues to the limelight with some comments he made during the start of the school year.

Peterson’s comments have gained him friends and foes alike, not to mention they’ve made him a bit of a celebrity (his Twitter following has soared, and he is a coveted interviewee in Canada and abroad). So, what were these comments? To sum it up, the opinion that has surrounded Peterson with controversy is his staunch opposition to Bill C-16, which would see the Criminal Code and Canadian Human Rights Act amended to include gender identity protected by discrimination provisions. It seems the bill is on its way to becoming law, having just passed the house, with only 40 Conservative MPs voting against it. If Bill C-16 becomes law, discrimination based on gender identity would result in punishments such as a monetary penalty. There is no mention of jail time as punishment in the legislation, but Professor Peterson has asked what would happen if one failed to pay the fees that would result from the discrimination.

Peterson refuses to use gender-neutral pronouns, even if people ask him to. Some of these pronouns would be “ze”, “xe” or “they” (singular).  He has no problem using “she” for trans women, however. The Professor is worried that the prospective law would result in the government essentially forcing people to use specific language, and punish people who fail to use that language. And it’s worth mentioning that language is up for debate now, or is it?

Having been at the rally, I am comfortable calling many of those who have “reported” about it either dishonest or misinformed.

Many of Peterson’s detractors believe that the language he opposes is indeed not up for debate. It is not uncommon to hear some of the detractors say “my pronouns are not up for debate”, for example. These radical critics, which unfortunately have been the loudest opposition to Peterson, want the Professor to face severe consequences because of his “transphobic” behaviour. The University of Toronto’s Student Union (UTSU) specifically called for Peterson to give a forced apology, and for university staff to undergo what they call “anti-oppression” training. Considering they want a “forced” apology for making certain comments, it is fair to say that the UTSU and those who agree with it believe that Peterson’s points of view should not be expressed on campus without punishment. Simply, there should be no debate. But unfortunately, the anti-Peterson, anti-free speech crowd hasn’t stopped there. On top of wanting to suppress certain opinions on campus, they have engaged in a campaign to slander Peterson and his supporters.

Following a rally organized by Peterson and Rebel Media reporter Lauren Southern in early October, the anti-Peterson crowd, with the help of university groups, the media, and other allies, have been making dishonest claims about the professor and his supporters. Having been at the rally, I am comfortable calling many of those who have “reported” about it either dishonest or misinformed. From what I saw, there was violence on both sides, but it was the anti-Peterson crowd who showed up with the intention of shutting down the open mic session at the rally (by playing very loud noise on speakers) and who often initiated the violence. The Varsity, which is the school’s newspaper, not only put out a piece which inaccurately covered the violence which took place at the rally, but in that piece, they originally claimed that there were people in the rally sporting Nazi German iron eagles. A few days later, after many people read their misinforming piece, The Varsity corrected the article and “regretted” getting it wrong. Similarly, Metro Toronto barely mentioned, if at all, the violence coming from the anti-Peterson protestors. Black Lives Matter Toronto, which also had activists present at the rally, has also called Peterson transphobic as well as racist, despite race not being part of the original discussion.

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Then there are the Peterson critics, which perhaps are more honest, but nonetheless hurl extreme accusations at him. Last week Steve Paikin hosted Peterson and some of his critics for a panel discussion. One of the panelists, Nick Matte, who is a professor of Trans Studies at the University of Toronto, said that Peterson had abused his students. When Steve Paikin asked for clarification, Matte said that Peterson’s refusal to use certain gender pronouns was tantamount to violence. Mary Rogan, a columnist, then likened Peterson’s refusal to use certain gender pronouns to refusal to drop racist terms, like the N-word, for black people back in America.

 

 

There is a lot to unpack in this story, which will likely carry on for a while considering the passion from Peterson as well as his detractors. In all, Peterson and his supporters are uncontestably the more reasonable side, as they are simply saying they want a debate. They want a debate, and the freedom to have that debate without the university or government punishing them.

As Peterson recently said, ze and xe and other gender pronouns are not mainstream vocabulary in society, and the science behind trans issues remains highly debated. Therefore, it is reasonable to not be forced to accept these highly debatable concepts. People like Nick Matte, on the other hand, judge Peterson’s refusal to use language as violence, and they think that his opinion should not be freely expressed. The University of Toronto, fortunately, appears to disagree with Matte, as it recently announced that there will be official university-sponsored debates including Peterson, which seems like a change of heart considering that the university’s administration issued Peterson warning letters a few weeks ago. Thankfully, reason and free speech seem to have a good chance in this fight.

The Prince Arthur Herald

Photo Credit: Jordan Peterson, YouTube