It’s been almost a year since I wrote about this asshole, and he just won’t crawl back under his rock, so here we go again.
The first piece I wrote examined his transphobia and racism by way of denial of white privilege. The follow up piece focused more on Peterson’s sexism. Since then, he’s remained busy and in the public eye. He continues to collect fans among the far right. Even outright Nazis and a “Proud Islamaphobe” (sic) love the guy. When your fan base is overrepresented by the slime of humanity, it’s time to look inward.
Now there is a recent letter to the editor / opinion piece in the New York Times by a psychology PhD student at Cambridge praising Peterson that I want to pick apart, because it is just one giant eyeroll of lobsterboi fawning that fails to acknowledge reality.
The piece is titled “What Jordan Peterson Did for Me.” And it is full of so much willful ignorance I’m amazed the author ever got into a graduate program at an illustrious university.
Here we go.
The author, Rob Henderson, writes: “Dr. Peterson … rose to infamy in the wake of his protests against a Canadian human rights law he believed could result in jail time if he did not use a person’s preferred pronouns.”
Well, he got the infamy part right.
Both of my other pieces about Peterson got deep into the issue of the law Peterson was protesting. It was such a blatant misrepresentation of the facts that Peterson’s position cannot be considered as anything other than hatred toward trans people. His fans ate it up, however, proclaiming that the government was trying to “compel speech” by making it a criminal offense to use to the wrong pronoun, which is total bullshit. And I’ve already exposed that bullshit. And Peterson fans are too fucking stupid to understand the lengthy exposure I did, so I’m gonna dumb it way the fuck down to the simplest, paste-eating, I stapled my ear to my shoulder dipshit level I can in the hopes these brainless troglodytes will get it.
The law Peterson misplaced his excrement over was Bill C-16. Read it here and show me where it says anything about pronouns. I’ll wait.
Here is my super simple analysis for the Peterson fans.
Discrimination: As an example, you can’t fire someone, refuse to hire someone, or kick someone out of your restaurant because they’re black. The law extends these protections so you can’t be similarly prejudiced based on someone being trans.
Hate speech: As an example, it is hate speech to say, “Kill all [race / religion].” The law makes it so that it would also be considered hate speech to say, “Kill all trans.”
If you support Peterson’s protest of the law, you’re saying people should be allowed to discriminate against trans people (e.g. firing, not hiring, kicking out of restaurants), and utter hate speech about trans people (e.g. saying they should be killed). It was only about extending protections that already exist for other groups to include trans people.
In short, if after reading this you still consider Peterson’s protest of Bill C-16 to be a good thing, you are a piece of shit.
But Henderson blew on past this like it was not a big deal. It was a big deal because it’s why the man gained fame in the first place, riding along the rise of this resurging toxic rightwing wave that’s brought us Brexit, Trump, and a return to power of far-right parties in Canadian politics.
Henderson: “the University of Cambridge … revoked his invitation to be a research fellow …”
THIS WAS NOT A FORMAL INVITATION!
The author makes it out like some travesty of free speech (which Peterson has shown to be a total hypocrite about time and again). Peterson approached a personal contact at Cambridge Divinity School to ask for a visiting post. It wasn’t an “invitation” at all, but a request on Peterson’s part. The friend said yes, but then other members of the faculty blocked it because they actually had some integrity. It’s worth noting Peterson doesn’t even have any relevant credentials making him worthy of a position at the Divinity School. But Henderson finds this “disconcerting” and tries to make Peterson out to be some free speech hero and that Cambridge caved to pressure.
Henderson: [Several paragraphs about how Peterson’s advice helped him get into Cambridge.]
Me: So fucking what? Anyone else with some basic understanding of getting into graduate school, coupled with some inspiring words, could have done that. Pick better mentors who don’t come with so much toxic baggage. It doesn’t look good on you.
Henderson: “Dr. Peterson integrates psychology, history and mythology to describe how people behave and what they can do to live fulfilling lives.”
Poorly. He does this poorly. There is no end of real experts in the fields Peterson feels qualified to opine on that have gone into extensive detail pointing out just how full of shit Peterson is and how badly he misrepresents their disciplines. Here is one example exposing what a shitty researcher he is.
Henderson: “Dr. Peterson both informs us about the world and imparts guidance on how we should act within it.”
Again: He does this really fucking poorly. Again: Choose better mentors.
Henderson: “what many people who become Jordan Peterson fans are looking for is called self-efficacy — belief in our ability to achieve goals.”
Peterson was born in central Alberta. Want to know a WAY BETTER psychologist who was also born in central Alberta who FUCKING INVENTED SELF-EFFICACY? His name is Albert Bandura, a Stanford University psychology professor, who published his theory in 1977 in Psychological Review. Better mentors! Choose them. Albert Bandura’s work stands the test of time and there isn’t an outcry about him being a bigoted douchebag.
Henderson: “I want to make clear that I recognize that Dr. Peterson has many critics and that some believe his views on some subjects, including women, are offensive. I should also say I don’t agree, and I think these arguments misrepresent his point of view.”
“I don’t agree” because I’m willfully fucking ignorant of reality. How Henderson can read the many detailed pieces that break down in excruciating detail, IN CONTEXT, the bigoted bullshit this ass monkey spews on the regular and think it is a misrepresentation says a lot about the author’s morals and his ability as a budding scholar.
Henderson: “But I don’t want to rehash or defend Dr. Peterson’s views here.”
Translation: Because they are indefensible, and I’d get my ass handed to me.
Henderson: “My heart dropped into my stomach when I learned that Dr. Peterson’s offer from the Divinity School had been revoked. Doing so sends the message that there’s something wrong with people who value his message — that there’s something wrong with me.”
That sensation could use some investigation. Self-reflection is a powerful tool for improvement. If, after all the justified negative press about Peterson, you still like the guy and his message, then there probably is something wrong with you.
Henderson’s concluding statement: “[whine whine whine] … Fortunately, I know where to turn to find some encouraging words.”
Yeah, because you’re a white male who doesn’t experience the type of bigotry that Peterson lobs and therefore in your mind such bigotry must not exist. You just think he is “encouraging” because you fit that group he wants to raise up at the expense of others.
You’re still young and in school. There is time for you to learn just how mistaken you are about Peterson.
And the mistake is that Jordan Peterson is not misunderstood by his critics. They have him accurately pegged. And he’s not misunderstood by his supporters either. His supporters see and hear what he says, but they don’t care. They’re happy to remain willfully ignorant of the negative impacts of his bigotry because they’re getting something out of it, so fuck everyone else.
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James S. Fell, MA, MBA, has bylines in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, the Guardian, TIME Magazine, and many other publications. His blog has millions of readers and he is the author of two books: The Holy Sh!t Moment: How Lasting Change Can Happen in an Instant (St. Martin’s Press, 2019), and Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind (Random House Canada, 2014). Order them here.
Photo credit: By Gage Skidmore – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jordan_Peterson_by_Gage_Skidmore.jpg