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Dr. Jordan Peterson Accused of Heresy by Ontario College of Psychologists
Inquisition-Tribunal demands he submit himself to "mandatory social-media communication retraining."
By JOHN LEAKE
I’ve often thought that if Dr. Jordan Peterson can be faulted for anything, it’s taking his ridiculous critics too seriously. Since he rose to prominence in 2016 for his perfectly reasonable opposition to the Trudeau government’s Bill C-16 compelled speech law, he has been contending with legions of bloviating, hysterical ninnies who are determined to make fools of themselves by debating him.
The clinical psychologist, author, and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto is probably the most learned and cultivated man in Canada. However, instead of being grateful for the privilege and pleasure of listening to him, many of Canada’s government and institutional leaders have expressed a persistent desire to punish him for his unorthodox views about the human condition.
And what are his unorthodox views? For starters, Dr. Peterson is an advocate of free speech, which he believes is a prerequisite for thinking about and discussing things—especially things of a complex nature. He also advocates that human beings take responsibility for their actions and speech, lead orderly and disciplined lives, seek purpose and meaning instead of impulsive pleasure, assume a courageous and principled position in human affairs instead of an expedient one, and study history and literature. He advocates equality of opportunity instead of state and institution imposed equality of outcome.
For advocating these ideas, Dr. Peterson has been subjected to some of the ugliest conceivable expressions of rage. Being on the receiving end of such vitriol has (understandably) been a troubling experience for him. This experience is, I suspect, an expression of Schopenhauer’s famous observation:
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Dr. Peterson’s intellectual forebears include Socrates, Jesus, Milton, Montaigne, Blackstone, Madison, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, and Jung. Most of the political views he espouses are firmly within the tradition of classical liberal thinkers such as John Stuart Mill. Some of his practical advice reminds me of the American motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, who spoke eloquently of how productivity and success can be attained through self-improvement, careful planning, discipline, and focus.
That Dr. Peterson is considered a controversial figure is an expression of the bad joke that now passes for higher education. His message to young men—stop playing video games and watching porn and start strengthening your characters, bodies, and minds—can only be threatening to people who derive a sense of power by claiming to represent all those mired in victimhood, weakness, and misery. Dr. Peterson’s critics remind me of the final scene of the film Amadeus, when Salieri tells the young priest taking his confession:
I will speak for you father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint.
On January 3, Dr. Peterson tweeted:
The Ontario College of Psychologists @CPOntario has demanded that I submit myself to mandatory social-media communication retraining with their experts for, among other crimes, retweeting [Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre] and criticizing [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] and his political allies.
Until about a decade ago, this sort of action would have seemed perfectly outlandish in a parliamentary democracy of British ancestry. Reasonable people would have viewed it as an abomination reminiscent of the Holy Office of the Inquisition hauling Giordano Bruno or Galileo before its fanatical judges. The notion of Dr. Peterson submitting himself to “retraining” conjures the “re-education camps” of communist Cambodia, Vietnam, China, and North Korea.
His tweet also reminded me of actions taken by the American Board of Internal Medicine against Dr. Peter McCullough, which I wrote about in my Substack essay of October 30, 2022.
Like the German government did in the 1933-45 period—when many of that country’s best writers and artists emigrated to the UK, Canada, and the United States—the Canadian government and institutions such as the Ontario College of Psychologists are now trying to force one of their country’s brightest minds into ideological conformity. It seems to me that this presents a golden opportunity for an American institutional leader to give Dr. Peterson a new academic home.
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