Enough with the Jordan Peterson hysteria: Michael Coren

Michael Coren’s “a plague on both your houses” is well argued and stated:

I’ve met Jordan Peterson twice; first on a TV show and later at a dinner party. He’s an intelligent and interesting man, with ideas on numerous subjects. Since then, of course, he’s become famous, and the mere mention of his name can divide a room.

I’ve no interest in providing yet another analysis of the Toronto academic’s ideas, but I will say that he is nowhere near as extreme and repugnant as many of his critics allege, and nowhere near as profound and original as do his supporters.

Peterson’s earlier claims were hardly fanatical. He wanted increased thought given to how we use and change language, and objected to the more sweeping linguistic demands of some in the trans community.

Agree or not, this was hardly outrageous stuff. But then the polarization began, and rather than flee from it, Peterson — perhaps because he had no choice — seemed to embrace the conflict.

He spent time and showed solidarity with The Rebel, a media platform that lost all credibility some time ago due to its far-right content and employment of figures rejected by respectable media. He made broadcasts that seemed increasingly strange and sentimental. There was a certain narcissism on display, a development of a public personality who, rather than offering informed reservations about language change, was now seen by his enormous number of followers as a philosopher-king, with answers to almost every dilemma.

It’s unfair to characterize someone entirely by those whom they attract, but equally unfair to dismiss the connection as immaterial. Anybody who has been on the receiving end of Peterson’s supporters realizes how abusive, intolerant, and angry they can be.

To his credit, their hero has sometimes told them to stop, but he also seems to be a product of their enthusiasms. There’s something exponential in all this, with Peterson appearing to be encouraged now to speak out on all sorts of things, often with very limited authority. But because it comes from him, it’s assumed to carry great weight.

Then there is the reaction, which is often grotesque. At a protest outside one of his recent talks, a violent demonstrator was found to be in possession of a garrote. This is the world gone mad! Peterson is called a racist and a homophobe, and that’s likely untrue, but the same can’t be said of all of his fan-base.

There is so much space and time given to Peterson and anti-Peterson, so much of it fat with empty hyperbole. And here’s the point. A self-defeating division has been created, where the chance of a moderate, sophisticated, and empathetic discussion has been made virtually impossible.

Peterson’s supporters are contemptuous of his opponents, highlighting the lunatics rather than listening to those from marginalized communities who have valid fears about what is being argued. His opponents refuse to give Peterson credit for anything he says, when in fact if we unwrap the showmanship and ludicrous zeal, the man sometimes asks essential questions.

Frankly, I’m sick and tired of older, privileged journalists dismissing, and sometimes mocking, minority sensitivities. They’re generally white men, and have been unchallenged in their careers. Sorry guys, times are changing, and about time too.

Equally, I’ve had enough of the hysteria brigade, screaming at every ostensible offence, urging censorship as a political weapon, and making no distinction between what is genuinely dangerous and what is merely challenging.

A plague on both of your bloody houses, and you should try to grasp that most Canadians are caught in the middle of this, and consider both of you to be problems rather than solutions.

Jordan Peterson is not some infallible figure. Some of what he says is absurd and wrong, his followers are far too often motivated by misplaced fear and nostalgia, and a lot of his most vociferous critics don’t even know what he says and need to learn that violence is entirely unacceptable, and that they usually play into Peterson’s hands.

So, there we have it. The difficulty with being in the middle of the road is that one sometimes gets run over, and I confidently expect that to happen now on social media and the like. Thus, I suppose, proving my point.

via Enough with the Jordan Peterson hysteria | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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