From Controversy to New Opportunities: Jordan Peterson’s Quest for Open Dialogue

“If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.” John Stuart Mill.

An Ontario court, presided over by Justice Paul Schabas, recently ruled on the mandatory re-education ordered by the College of Psychologists for Jordan Peterson. Justice Schabas expressed the view that this re-education did not infringe upon Peterson’s rights, as it primarily aimed to address concerns regarding the use of degrading or demeaning language. However, questions arise regarding the definition of such language and whether it should fall within the scope of legal enforcement.

Traditionally, professional bodies exist to ensure competence and protect the public from malpractice, but membership in a regulated profession should not necessitate giving up the right to free expression.

The ruling, in practice, seems to be setting a precedent that could stifle professionals across various fields, including doctors, lawyers, teachers, and accountants, by implying that they should refrain from expressing unpopular views, particularly during a time when government and powerful corporations endorse certain ideologies. In what amounts to an Orwellian outcome, the ruling is more about using Peterson as an example to silence professionals across various disciplines—doctors, lawyers, teachers and accountants—who are being told to shut up or else.

Numerous instances exist where individuals lost their jobs due to questioning prevailing ideologies, such as the case of medical doctor Matt Strauss, who alleged job loss due to contrarian COVID-19 views. Similarly, Stockwell Day faced repercussions for comments on racism, while Lindsay Shepherd was reprimanded for showing a Jordan Peterson debate on gender pronouns.

It appears that certain individuals, like Jordan Peterson, have become targets for expressing conservative viewpoints. While Peterson has the resources to defend his reputation, most people lack such means and are often forced to apologize to re-enter their careers.

Peterson’s unapologetic stance against political correctness and mandatory anti-bias training at the University of Toronto has made him a figure of controversy. He has criticized the forced use of so-called gender-neutral pronouns, attributed the decline of Western values to cultural Marxism, and challenged notions like white privilege and subjective gender identity.

According to lawyer Olivier Seguin, the Ontario ruling seems to promote conformity and self-censorship among professionals, creating a chilling effect on open discourse. If Peterson caves, it sets an example for society at large not to speak out politically.

Howard Levitt, an expert in labor law, believes the court’s decision could empower groups to target anyone with unpopular opinions. This may lead to increased harassment and complaints against those who express dissenting views.

The importance of safeguarding political beliefs in the workplace is emphasized in this context. Upholding individual rights, equality of opportunity, and free expression is crucial to prevent the further growth of authoritarianism within a society that should welcome diverse viewpoints. The application of the Human Rights Code to protect political beliefs is suggested as a means to prevent individuals from being ostracized or silenced.

In a long-form interview with Piers Morgan, Jordan Peterson and his daughter Michaela Peterson spoke of the “Peterson Academy,” their new initiative in education. Driven by a commitment to providing a more balanced and open-minded approach to learning, this online platform offers a wealth of carefully curated courses led by a diverse group of renowned professors from various fields. By cutting through the ideological filters often found in traditional universities, the Peterson Academy aims to provide students with high-quality education while fostering a sense of community. 

The intention behind this endeavor is not only to challenge conventional modes of learning but also to create a space where individuals can engage in meaningful, open discussions and interact with like-minded learners. In an era when educational experiences are becoming increasingly restricted by biases and conformity, the Peterson Academy offers an exciting alternative that empowers students to explore and think critically, reflecting the Peterson family’s commitment to education and personal growth.

Although not everyone may agree with all of Jordan Peterson’s views, his courage in challenging prevailing ideologies is commendable in a world where dissent is met with growing resistance.

Francis Crescia is a York University graduate with an honors B.A in political science with a business career background as an IT executive and photojournalist. He currently blogs about politics and economics.
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