Greetings and a rant about Jordan Peterson

 
Valkyri
 
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Valkyri
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11 July 2018 19:57
 

Hello,

I’m an on-again-off-again fan of the podcast. My son recently asked me if I had any books written by Jordan Peterson, and after doing some cursory research into the guy, I somehow knew that Sam Harris must have butted heads with him - I was glad to find out that I was correct.

I’d like to clear up a few things, as I am a Canadian that lives in the province of Ontario and I do understand the laws. First of all, please read the Bill C-16 amendment if you care to: https://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/bill/C-16/first-reading

This document protects the rights of all people. Peterson seemed to feel that biology determines gender and he seemed to feel that Sam agreed with him about that - and I don’t (unlike Peterson) want to speak for anyone, but I can make a few claims.

If sex and gender are nothing more than interchangeable terms, then biology does determine sex/gender. If they are exactly the same, then we should really just do away with one of those words, because we don’t need two words to describe exactly the same thing. However, I do not believe they are the same thing, and from a personal perspective, I am not a huge fan of the idea of gender. I do believe gender is socially constructed and depending on which gender you are - which is assumed to match your sex, you are handed social roles and expectations. That is something that I cannot accept on a personal level, despite that I’m forced to accept it by society, and thus forced to identify as a feminist, if not a “woman” (though I do have female sex parts) if I want any hope at all in changing that, of equalizing that - and even modern feminism has gotten away from that too. It saddens me because I do not “identify” as a woman, I do not “identify” as a man. My “identity” is not dependent on my sex bits and I don’t believe it has to be. I don’t honestly care what pronoun you use to refer to me, call me anything but late for dinner, but to force me to comply to a set of gender rules is in a word, discrimination. And that is something our Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibits. Even the biological differences between male and female are not that great when you’re talking averages. We have far more in common than we are different, even physically, and I’d argue that the only biological difference there is between sexes are sex organs, average size/strength differences (which are by no means universally true), body hair, and the different role in reproduction. That’s all. Everything else is social programming.

If a person with a penis wants to wear a dress and pig tails and be called “she” - it does no harm to anyone, and is no more invasive than Robert asking people to call him Bob. Peterson thinks it is somehow harmful. The U of T may have laid down regulations that professors must refer to people by their preferred pronouns, and I assure you that the purpose of that was to accommodate transgender individuals, and that “gender fluid” - a term that I might technically qualify to use if I cared much for labels or gender identity (which I don’t on either point) is by far a very slim minority, and is quite likely not going to be an issue. Most of them will have a him/her preference just like transgender people do, or others won’t care either way and are likely to accept the one that matches their outward expression the most, or either if they are that androgynous. So, he was lying to you, Sam Harris, when he told you that he’s expected to learn and relearn new gender pronouns on the daily. If he isn’t lying, then he lives in a very different version of Ontario Canada than I do.

There will be the strange few that do - and in my world, the world where I like words to have known meanings because language is what we use to communicate with each other and there must be a standard, I would not bother forming even the most basic relationship with a person such as that - at best I would agree to refer to them as them, they - as those are words that already exist and are gender neutral. They can accept that or not talk to me. I find them pedantic, but I also find them extremely rare. And to be honest, I’ve found most of them online and they’re residents of the great US of A.

Anyhow, I know I’m rather late to the two podcasts where he was the guest - it was only brought to my attention recently by my son, whom I did not want falling into the trap of a hard-core right winger masquerading as an intellectual. My son isn’t the type to listen to podcasts like Waking Up, or even NPR - he listens to Joe Rogan, so he’s not likely to spot that fact. Maybe I’m being a little too judgmental in regards to Peterson, and while I’m quite vividly aware that the hard core left carries their own, extremely similar problems, I still find them much less harmful on the whole - if no less fanatical. I’m quite thoroughly convinced that Peterson is a Christian who is doing the proverbial “bullshit baffling” to proselytize among the wannabe intellectual crowd. Listening to the subtleties of those conversations, Sam really did make him seem like a mental midget. I’m not suggesting he’s not a very well educated man, and a thinker, but his agenda is guiding him and it’s all too obvious that his arguments and illustrations are more than a little off the mark - it took someone of Sam’s calibre to expose it. I’d happily pass it on to my son, but he was more interested in mechanics than academics, more interested in The Simpsons than philosophy (though I think he may have picked some up there nonetheless) and he’d fail to make heads or tails of it. The best result of that would be that he’d just go back to listening to raunchy comedy and laughing at Bart. Perhaps not a bad thing, it keeps him out of the clutches of Jesus at least. And I don’t want my son turning delusional because of that guy. Hey, diddly, do.

So, anyway - as I said, I’m late to those particular podcasts, but I wanted to clear up the fallacies that Peterson laid out about our laws. He’s not going to go to jail over it, he might get fired if he kicks up enough dirt, he might gain the Canadian Tea Party crowd’s support, but he’s not going to be persecuted under a human rights violation that falls way short of hate speech. The fact that he thinks he will is laughable, the fact that he didn’t believe the lawyer who told him so suggests he’s a little more paranoid that your average citizen, even the outwardly racist ones, and the fact that he’s a devout Christian doing his part to gain converts is not as well disguised as he might think it is.

Cheers, and thanks for all the great topics, Sam Harris. I’m glad you exist in podcast-land.

 

 

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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12 July 2018 05:43
 

Professor Peterson continues to be a highly controversial character and generates a lot of attention for his ideas.  Ideas that scarcely reflect the Ontario that I know. 

Welcome to the forum.

 
 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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13 July 2018 07:46
 

Peterson is an intellectual lightweight who caught a very specific updraft of anxiety about gender issues.

 
 
Valkyri
 
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Valkyri
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13 July 2018 08:11
 
Twissel - 13 July 2018 07:46 AM

Peterson is an intellectual lightweight who caught a very specific updraft of anxiety about gender issues.

Agreed. I don’t pretend to be any more than a lightweight myself, if even that, but I’m enough of a “weight” to be able to identify that Peterson takes the old joking phrase, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit” to heart.

I’m sure Freud would have had some very interesting things to say about his mother.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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28 July 2018 11:12
 

On this issue Peterson’s primary concern is that of “compelled speech”.

On this issue Peterson is 100% correct, compelled speech - for any danged reason - is a complete non-starter.