Why it seems like ages ago, when the University of Toronto leaped into the now infamous Pronoun Wars with a couple of minatory letters to Prof. Jordan Peterson that were as ham-fisted and bullying as they were badly written. Peterson had made it very clear that he would not, under any asserted compulsion from legislation or human rights code, use any newly coined pronouns (they had reached a count of 31 at one point) when addressing transgender students. Succinctly stated, he would not be compelled to speak words others insisted he speak.
The University of Toronto, which many insist is a world-class institution, responded that as a result of this (then) little-known clinical psychologist, that some of its students had been the subject of “specific and violent threats, including threats of assault, injury and death.” Then in sly malice it went on to hope that these death and other threats “were not his intention” in making the arguments he was making.
The university held back on the bowl of hemlock traditionally offered to enlightened dissidents. However it grimly “urged him,” because of the “threats” and under the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code, to “stop making” (these) remarks.
The university held back on the bowl of hemlock
Sweet are the uses of adversity, as Shakespeare has reminded us. The university’s ludicrous claims and attempts at censorship kindled a fire of publicity. The case of the professor who refused to speak made-up pronouns, and who made YouTube videos calmly explaining why, entered the newsstream. However, the greatest gift to Prof. Peterson and his cause was not these two craven letters.
The gods, in their always inscrutable way, really smiled on him during a free-speech rally, when a mob of social justice hooligans hectored him, set up a white-noise machine to drown him out, and insulted him with the usual volleys of bigotry and transphobia.
That’s the historical context — history comes in short spans these days — of the pronoun wars and the saga of Jordan Peterson. Unfair, overwrought and downright malicious opposition to him has been the primary engine of his rise to international prominence. Hysterical reaction to his principled arguments has been the engine that now supplies him with an audience of millions and book sales of Salinger proportions (he’s now outselling Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury).
This article continues at [National Post] Rex Murphy: The prime moment Jordan Peterson’s ‘gotcha’ was heard around the world