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Jordan Peterson on Identity Politics: ‘It Doesn't Take Large Minority to Shut Down Silent Majority’

Canadian psychology guru Jordan Peterson has been widely criticised by representatives of the left-wing media for being an opponent of extreme political correctness, with several theatres recently refusing to screen a new documentary about his personal life and social ideas, in fear of backlash from certain sections of society.
  1. Intense Media Attacks
  2. Peterson’s YouTube Fame
  3. Identity Politics as Reversion to Tribalism

Controversial psychologist and Toronto professor Jordan Peterson has just shared his September interview with Canadian commentator Rex Murphy, where he reflected on the media attacks he’s experienced, the change in his YouTube mission, and issues of identity politics he disagrees with. Here are some highlights of the main points raised by Peterson, who has been dealing with backlash from the left-wing media since the release of a three-part YouTube series, criticising the use of gender-neutral pronouns back in 2016.

Intense Media Attacks

Jordan Peterson became a principal target of mainstream media and proponents of extreme political correctness since his open critique towards a bill mandating the use of gender-neutral pronouns (such as they/zie/zher) when referring to persons who do not identify as a male or female. While Peterson has always denied any accusations of being a right-wing fanatic, the contemporary psychology guru insisted instead that he has always been a promoter of free speech, trying to engage in fruitful debate with the public.

In the interview, Peterson reflected on how his rise to international fame was accompanied by “dreadful” attacks from the media which he never adjusted to. While the Canadian psychologist noted it has only been in the last couple of months that the attacks have stopped, following his voluntary shut down from the public, he said that the success of his books and lectures proved that he should continue his work.

“It was dreadful”, Peterson said when replying to a question about media attacks. “Especially for a couple of months. The attention was unbelievably intense”.

“What’s helped: I determined right from the beginning that I was going to say carefully what I believe to be true, because there wasn’t a safer route than that”, he explained. “In the final analysis it was not certain that anything would protect me. There wasn’t a better option”.

Peterson’s YouTube Fame

In 2016, Peterson released a series of YouTube videos criticising extreme political correctness and Canada’s Bill C-15 introducing “compelled speech” into law, according to Peterson. The legislation deals with people possessing non-binary identities. 

“I woke up at three in the morning because I was so irritated by this bill and its attempt to force a certain type of language usage. I could see what was behind this quite clearly”, Peterson recalled. “I thought ‘Well it’s really annoying me to death’. What I would do when something was annoying me to death, was get up and write. But I thought ‘Well I’ll make a YouTube video and see what happens’”.

Peterson said that he could not fully estimate the effect of the video-sharing platform at that time, suggesting that humans still do not understand what the power of YouTube could be. Although his videos received million views by April 2016 and significant media coverage, the Canadian psychology professor said he received a large amount of support from people who were previously unable to openly express their opinion due to the extreme political correctness the Canadian government was trying to promote.

Identity Politics as Reversion to Tribalism

Peterson has long been arguing that contemporary society is in the midst of a “crisis of masculinity” and that promotion of non-binary identities has only made the situation worse. During the interview, he insisted that “identity politics” was nothing but a “reversion to tribalism” which, surprisingly, had never gone away.

“We took the fact that it went away for granted”, the psychologist said. “We forgot the reasons that it went away. We forgot the axioms. We started to lose faith in them. That’s partly what I’ve been trying to fight against, to write about why those rules were necessary and what they meant”. 

“It does not take a very large determined minority to shut down a large and silent majority, that’s unfortunately the rule”, Peterson concluded.

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Jordan Peterson shot to international fame in 2016 following his YouTube series criticising Canadian legislation imposing the mandatory use of gender-neutral pronouns. He has also recently launched a free-speech platform called Thinkspot, presented as “an intellectual playground for censorship-free discourse”. Peterson has been a strong defender of Canadian free speech activists, including Lindsay Shepherd, after she was disciplined by Wilfrid Laurier University over showing students a debate involving Peterson discussing the use of gender-neutral pronouns and banned from Twitter this year following her exchange of tweets with transgender woman Jessica Yaniv.

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