Penguin Random House (Canada) employees rebel against their firm’s publication of Jordan Peterson

November 25, 2020 • 9:30 am

Apparently publishers are supposed to adopt a consistent ideological point of view, publishing books that comport not only with “progressive” ideology, but also avoiding publishing any books that violate it.  If there are such violations, the books should not be published. This is what happened when Hachette decided not to publish Woody Allen’s memoirs after employees objected—on the totally unproven grounds that Allen was a pedophile.

You’ll probably remember Jordan Peterson’s 2018 best-seller, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaosa self help book that remains at #95 on Amazon nearly three years after publication. I’m not much interested in the phenomenon of Peterson, who seems unhinged at some times and coherent and thoughtful at others, so I haven’t read any of his works. I did, however, look at 12 Rules in a bookstore, and found it mildly amusing and inoffensive—and possibly of help to some people.

Despite Peterson being demonized by the Authoritarian Left for his views on pronouns and masculinity (neither of which I agree with), his self-help book, published by Random House Canada, avoided all the political stuff. Here are the rules as summarized in Wikipedia:

  1. “Stand up straight with your shoulders back”
  2. “Treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping”
  3. “Make friends with people who want the best for you”
  4. “Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today”
  5. “Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them”
  6. “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world”
  7. “Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)”
  8. “Tell the truth — or, at least, don’t lie”
  9. “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”
  10. “Be precise in your speech”
  11. “Do not bother children when they are skate-boarding”
  12. “Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street”

Each of these rules was the subject of a short chapter, and I especially appreciated rule #12, which I think is a good one and one that I obey religiously.

I judge the reviews to have been mixed but on the positive side of neutrality (here’s a fair, and pretty positive one in the New Woker), but the book sold like hotcakes: over five million copies.

Now Peterson—who’s had his share of troubles, suffering from depression and addiction, and nearly dying in Russia where he sought treatment—is about to publish a sequel to 12 Rules called Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life.  It looks pretty much like what it purports to be: more self-help, more rules.  It will be published in March of next year.

Despite the fairly anodyne nature of this book compared to the other ruckuses Peterson has raised, many employees of his publisher are now outraged—not because of the book’s contents, but because of what Peterson has said in his talks and in other publications and interviews. The publisher, again Penguin Random House Canada (it changed its name), is going ahead with the book, but, as VICE reports below (click on screenshot), the publication has ignited a lot of controversy among employees.

Yes, it’s the usual stuff; a few quotes from VICE will suffice, and will show that it’s not this book the employees object to, but Peterson’s views in general. He is an Unperson and therefore should not be published:

The kerfuffle:

Several Penguin Random House Canada employees confronted management about the company’s decision to publish a new book by controversial Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson at an emotional town hall Monday, and dozens more have filed anonymous complaints, according to four workers who spoke to VICE World News.

On Monday, Penguin Random House Canada, Canada’s largest book publisher and a subsidiary of Penguin Random House, announced it will be publishing Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life by Peterson, to be released in March 2021. The book will be published by Portfolio in the U.S. and Penguin Press in the U.K., both part of the Penguin Random House empire.

Four Penguin Random House Canada employees, who did not want to be named due to concerns over their employment, said the company held a town hall about the book Monday, during which executives defended the decision to publish Peterson while employees cited their concerns about platforming someone who is popular in far-right circles.

. . . A third employee told VICE World News the company’s diversity and inclusion committee received at least 70 anonymous messages about Peterson’s book, and only a couple are in favour of the decision to publish it.

. . . “I feel it was deliberately hidden and dropped on us once it was too late to change course,” said the junior employee who is a member of the LGBTQ community. The employee said workers would have otherwise considered a walkout, similar to what Hachette employees did when the publisher announced it would be publishing Woody Allen’s memoir; Hachette later dropped the book.

The charges:

Four Penguin Random House Canada employees, who did not want to be named due to concerns over their employment, said the company held a town hall about the book Monday, during which executives defended the decision to publish Peterson while employees cited their concerns about platforming someone who is popular in far-right circles.

“He is an icon of hate speech and transphobia and the fact that he’s an icon of white supremacy, regardless of the content of his book, I’m not proud to work for a company that publishes him,” a junior employee who is a member of the LGBTQ community and who attended the town hall told VICE World News.

Is there hate speech in this book? I doubt it? Is there transphobia? I doubt that, too? White supremacy? If Peterson has been a white supremacist, I don’t know about it, but I seriously doubt there’s any of that in his upcoming book.

The view that a publisher must publish books hewing to a consistent ideological line:

“The company since June has been doing all these anti-racist and allyship things and them publishing Peterson’s book completely goes against this. It just makes all of their previous efforts seem completely performative,” the employee added.

. . . “(But) [Peterson’s] the one who’s responsible for radicalizing and causing this surge of alt-right groups, especially on university campuses.”

And the “harm”:

Another employee said “people were crying in the meeting about how Jordan Peterson has affected their lives.” They said one co-worker discussed how Peterson had radicalized their father and another talked about how publishing the book will negatively affect their non-binary friend.

The employee said the company’s diversity and inclusion committee aired concerns about how this will affect other authors.

“We publish a lot of people in the LGBTQ+ community and what is the company going to do about making sure these authors are still feeling supported by a company that is supporting somebody who denies their existence,” the employee said.

. . . All of the workers who spoke to VICE World News said if the book isn’t cancelled, they would like Penguin Random House Canada to consider donating the profits from the book to LGBTQ organizations.

Crying???  When I read this kind of stuff, and realize that the book isn’t likely to contain anything seen as “transphobic” or “Nazified”, I want to tell these employees to a.) get a grip and b.) realize that publishers are one of the main venues for promulgating controversial speech. Only religious or creationist publishers have catalogues that don’t include dissenting voices, and Penguin Random House, which happens to be my own publisher in the U.S., has a consistent policy that they accept books based on quality and interest (and profitability, see below), not whether they’re ideologically palatable. If that were the case, they wouldn’t have published Faith Versus Fact. They knew my book would encounter criticism from the faithful, as indeed it did.

Think about how many books you disagree with, whatever your political stand. Many of those are solid books that make good arguments, and even if you reject the arguments, can you say that those books shouldn’t have been published? If so, then you’re not in favor of free speech.

Now of course publishing is a business, and part of the decision to accept books is also based on their likely profitability. But publishers realize that most of their books won’t make money, and they count on a few blockbusters to keep them afloat. Peterson’s book is likely to be one of these, since its predecessor sold over 5 million copies worldwide. But I doubt that Penguin Random House Canada simply wouldn’t publish the book if it were loaded to the gunwales with slurs on trans people or claims of white supremacy. No, it’s another cute self-help book, likely to contain nothing offensive save the name of the author.

But that’s enough. Peterson has been officially Canceled, and therefore nobody should publish anything he says.

h/t: cesar

89 thoughts on “Penguin Random House (Canada) employees rebel against their firm’s publication of Jordan Peterson

  1. “Four Penguin Random House Canada employees, who did not want to be named due to concerns over their employment…”

    Anonymous people are cowards. If one wants to speak out, identify oneself.

    I see this all the time in blogs and forums – people hide behind anonymity so they can say outrageous things.

      1. Such employees are welcome to take a principled and honest stand. They should resign if they believe strongly in their cause.

        1. So they should fire themselves and leave the wokies in charge? That’ll show them!

          Don’t take it personal, but I think being so principled makes things worse. It’s like an opposition party dissolving itself in protest against a government.

  2. Again, the woke playbook: Don’t argue against ideas you don’t like, silence the speaker, and throw a temper-tantrum if you don’t get your way.

    Weak, childish, and pathetic. (I must be protected from anything that offends me.)

    And: The general employee doesn’t get editorial power over the publisher. Want to edit? Apply the the effing job.

    1. And, if you don’t like Peterson’s content, change the fucking channel!.

      No one is holding a gun to your head and making you read or watch his stuff (FFS).

    2. “Again, the woke playbook: Don’t argue against ideas you don’t like, silence the speaker, and throw a temper-tantrum if you don’t get your way.”

      I can’t tell if this behavior stems from genuine weakness, as in people who have not emotionally matured beyond their childhood phase, or whether this is a cynical tactic. As in, I’m going to exaggerate my emotional reaction because I know it will be effective in getting my way.

      Adults crying at meetings over opinions they don’t like strikes me as performance art. If things like these are really reducing adults to mushy piles of tears, something has gone awry in how we raise people these days.

      1. Good point: I’m sure it’s both.

        But among the Woke leadership, I’m sure it’s pure calculated politics, nothing more.

      2. Sadly, it seems they are emotionally stunted. The result of a society that has coddled and indulged them from birth.

        1. I almost revile these types more than the overheated macho men you see on the far right. Some part of me thinks that this machismo energy can be channeled into something positive and constructive.

          Whereas, the 30 year old blubbering over a different opinion seems like a lost cause. If you really are that frail and useless, I don’t even now where to start with you. I couldn’t imagine relying on you in a crises situation.

      3. I think the crying is probably real, but is related to a complete lack of perspective.
        A toddler, denied a toy, might act similarly. The kid might well believe that not being allowed to have the toy is the worst thing to ever happen to anyone, ever.

        Most of us later learn perspective. My wife has patients who are experiencing mild discomfort, but believe their pain is 8/10. Once a person has, as an example, passed a kidney stone, they see that the minor cut is more of a 2/10, and does not call for moaning and a handful of percocet.
        I don’t think you need to personally experience chattel slavery or Treblinka to see your current issues in proper perspective. But knowledge of the actual history of such times and places and would help tremendously.

    3. It’s not weakness, but more like a peacock’s tail. Bv acting overly sensitive you can signal that you are unassailable. The aristocracy used to do it, as illustrated in the fable of the princess and the pea.

  3. …the company’s diversity and inclusion committee received at least 70 anonymous messages about Peterson’s book, and only a couple are in favour of the decision to publish it.

    Oh, the irony.

    Not really ironic though, if one considers the committee’s name is Orwellian i.e. exactly the opposite of what it purports to be.

  4. “…the company’s diversity and inclusionconformity committee received at least 70 anonymous messages about Peterson’s book, and only a couple are in favour of the decision to publish it.”

    Fixed that.

  5. What is the psychological term for the following scenario, which seems to be taking place on a very large scale over the last few years:

    If you tell people enough times that something is traumatizing to them, they eventually perceive it as traumatizing and have a psychological reaction of trauma, despite the thing in question previously not being traumatizing at all.

    We’re telling so many people — especially emotionally vulnerable people, like teenagers — that so many things are traumatizing, and they seem to be internalizing these messages and thus becoming traumatized by events and scenarios that would previously had little or no effect on them. I’ve been wondering about this for awhile now. I know there’s a term for it, but I don’t remember what it is.

      1. Yes, it certainly falls under that umbrella, but I think there’s a more specific term for this more specific scenario.

        Some of it could probably be attributed to Munchausen Syndrome, as there seem to be a lot of people who want to wear the badge of trauma, which has now become a way of raising one’s social status in some circles.

    1. There is a fetishization of trauma & illness. I think it borders on mass histrionic personality disorder and I think it’s an absolute insult to anyone who has suffered real debilitating trauma. Often, you see exaggerations here which tends to delegitimize actual trauma. Think of how social justice, a necessary and good thing, has been irreparably destroyed by these fragile, sanctimonious, attention grubing people.

      1. I couldn’t agree more. It really does deligitamize real trauma. Even worse, it makes people question those who step forward to talk about real trauma, and I think that might even make such people even less likely to step forward in the first place.

    2. That’s the phenomenon I see in this as well, BJ.

      I often think of the example of conservative cultures, like parts of the Muslim world were it is expected under religious law or extreme social pressure, for women to be covered up.

      If a woman walking the streets in such an area suddenly lost her burka or hijab, simply revealing her face/hair/bare arms etc, many onlooking men would be shocked and angered, and the woman may feel mental anguish in the form of deep embarrassment, shame and fear.

      Just for having her face/hair and arms revealed.

      Where a woman in a typical western country feels absolutely normal walking around without being covered up.

      (In contrast, feeling traumatized by being raped or sexually abused would seem to be an entirely natural, understandable result).

      We need to be careful about what we promote as traumatizing, else we end up with sensitization-factories producing a surfeit of trauma that makes society ever more dysfunctional. A self-inflicted would of sorts. I think the wider we can make the gap between the seriousness of actual physical abuse/harm and “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” the better.

      As for Peterson, while he does go to some loony extremes, I remember when he first came on the scene I felt he was making some good points, though being somewhat histrionic. These days his fears about the encroachment of post-modernist identify politics and the actual threat are looking more prescient to me.

      1. Agreed on all points, except slightly less on Peterson. When he came to prominence, I thought he was doing a good job and liked just about everything he was saying. Then he started giving his lectures steeped in religious mythology and related BS. His criticism of social justice and a good amount of his published self-help material ranges from very good to harmless, but his other material is often muddled or even outright Loony Toons wrapped up in intellectual language.

  6. “…what is the company going to do about making sure these authors are still feeling supported by a company that is supporting somebody who denies their existence.”

    Nobody is denying your existence. It is not possible to deny someone’s existence when they are making some a goddamn fuss.

    1. Jordan Peterson might as well say, I’m not going to use your pronouns. I’m just going to call you “asshole”.

  7. I got the audio book with one of my monthly credits on Audible, and I have to admit I got bored by about rule number three, so I didn’t finish it, but it was at least reasonable advice, well thought out and reasonably well explained up to that point. I just didn’t find it that useful or gripping.

    Give me Richard Dawkins or Brian Greene reading one of their books – or ANY good reader reading Pinker’s stuff – and I won’t stop until it’s done. It occurs to me that I have both of PCC(E)’s books on Kindle, but I don’t think I do on Audible…I think I like hearing his voice in my head when I read them rather than the paid narrator.

    Anyway, I agree with the above comments about those who protest so much, but do so anonymously. If you’re crying over the company for which you work publishing a Jordan Peterson book, it means you have an astonishingly privileged life in which very little truly bad has ever happened to you. You should be thankful.

    1. I basically never buy “self-help” books. In general, I find them stupifyingly obvious.

      The only book in the genre that I liked was The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

  8. I’ve settled on a new heuristic; when someone says that person A is an X, where X is Racists, Nazi, far right wingding, etc. I will take a bit of time to read / listen to person A since more often than not those accusations are exaggerated and they may actually have something useful to say.

    I did this with Peterson back when he first came to be known and on the whole I find him to be insightful on some topics and a bit blinkered on others (esp. religion).

    At the very least I will know that I shouldn’t pay any more attention to the accuser.

  9. “…what is the company going to do about making sure these authors are still feeling supported by a company that is supporting somebody who denies their existence.” Ahh, that takes me back.

    Long ago, I was part of a legendary campaign for the office of Commissioner of Public Land in Washington State. It was a spoof, and I believe the funniest episode in U.S. political history (at least until Rudy Giuliani). At one point in our campaign, a newspaper questioned the existence, not only of our candidate, but of myself. I released to the press my reply, which thanked them for questioning my existence, and confessed that I often had the same problem myself.

  10. Let’s consider this hypothetical. It is early 1939, before World War II has started. Most of the world knows what kind of person Hitler is, what he believes in, and what he believes the destiny of Germany is. He writes a book that appears to be totally innocuous and non-political such as the art of small talk around the coffee table. He offers the book to an American publishing house. Should the American publisher publish it? On the “yes” side is the argument that the book appears to be harmless and will probably make the publisher a lot of money. On the “no” side is the argument that Hitler is a profoundly evil man and that the book may draw its readers to develop sympathy with Hitler.

    So, the publisher has a tough decision to make. My view is that if the publisher decides that morality should override profits then it should decline Hitler’s request to publish it. The publisher has no obligation to add stature to an evil person. That is, it would not be complicit with evil.

    To be clear: I am in no way comparing Peterson to Hitler or saying that the former’s book should not be published by Penguin. What I am saying is that I do not accept the argument for a general rule that the decision to publish any book should be based on the contents of the book alone and its potential profitability. In my view, the publisher should take a broader view and determine that if the publication of any book, regardless of its specific content, would contribute, even indirectly, to the propagation of evil ideas or agenda. Of course, this is a subjective judgment. By rejecting the publication of such a book, the publisher would in no way be impinging on the author’s freedom of speech. The author could most likely easily find a more amenable publisher. Again, I am not familiar enough with Peterson’s writings and speeches to comment on whether the publisher should reject the book for the reasons I have cited.

    1. “In my view, the publisher should take a broader view and determine that if the publication of any book, regardless of its specific content, would contribute, even indirectly, to the propagation of evil ideas or agenda.”

      But JP, as far as I’ve seen, has no evil ideas or agenda. Could somebody misinterpret his ideas, and turn them into evil or harmful ideas. Yes of course.

      But then, people did the same thing Darwin’s ideas (see “Social Darwinism”), so would that mean that Origin should have never been published?

      I’ve also read that Richard Dawkins “The Selfish Gene” has also been taken too literally by some people, who erroneously assume that genes make us selfish and that this somehow condones selfish behavior.

      Should TSG then have been never published as well?

      So I respectfully disagree with your analysis.

      1. He has a lot of stupid ideas that can be offensive. That is no reason not to publish them. It IS a reason to argue against them. Those that would prefer to silence them instead (not that they are in this book) only make themselves appear weak and add weight to his stupid ideas.

        1. Generally I would agree but we have the recent case of Donald Trump. Substitute a television news network for the book publisher. Allow it to fully promote everything about this guy and do it nonstop 24 hours a day for years. Where is the alternative if the people only watch this channel. It’s all about full blown free speech and look at the result.

          1. Sure and you could argue the same about pseudo science. In fact, that’s even more pernicious because it tends to get put next to legit science so people start following the advice of Suzanne Somers when it comes to breast cancer or various other cancer quacks. It’s bad enough that there are young earth creationists writing books about evolution that sit along side legitimate evolution books. I don’t think the answer is to censor this crap being written but I think it should be filed under “opinions or religion”. And the Library of Congress could help with that proper filing. And there should be lots of people explaining what reality is. I don’t think the issue is the information but the way the information is spoon fed to people (like in social media for example) and I don’t have an answer for how to fix that but I do not think censorship is the right answer or pretty soon, I’m sure you’ll see censorship of any book that offends the religious as well.

        2. Yes — stupidity would have been a valid reason for not publishing the book. But once it’s been accepted, it would have been better to just ignore this silly pompous fellow and hope he just goes away.

    2. “In my view, the publisher should take a broader view and determine that if the publication of any book, regardless of its specific content, would contribute, even indirectly, to the propagation of evil ideas or agenda.”

      This would rule out the publication of any material. All material is subject to interpretation, as are the precise meanings of the words ‘Evil’ and ‘moral’.

      Arguably, by advocating for such a rule (and for bringing publicity to Hitler by specifically choosing him as your example) a moral publisher would de-platform you. If all publishers were moral, then all would de-platform you. If society were moral, then it would de-platform you.

      Furthermore, for advocating such views your professional work should also be struck from the record alongside any acknowledgement of your existence (as acknowledgment would add to your stature).

      I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this outcome. I’m interested to know if you are? Although, if you are, I appreciate you wouldn’t be able to reply without revealing yourself to be immoral and thus worthy of further censure.

      1. The flip side would also be true, of course. If you were not worthy of de-platforming then I, as a result of implying that you should be, am committing an Evil act and I should be the one de-platformed by a moral society.

        Such serious consequences for the mere discussion of an idea.

      2. Although I cannot make sense of much of what you write, I will point out that I indicated what is moral and evil are subjective determinations. Thus, for example, I would not condemn or accuse a Christian publisher of violating free speech for refusing to publish books that advocate for atheism.

        1. My thanks for being willing to engage with me, despite the muddled expression of my thoughts (for which I apologise).

  11. Seem like reasonably sensible rules. Just because they are obvious doesn’t mean they aren’t worth summarising and restating (something I learned long ago in the context of teaching).

    Also worth looking out for “Offended, by Irvine Welsh” a 1 hr TV programme where the author of Trainspotting talks about cancel culture, and seems to agree with me that its all about drawing attention away from class privilege.

    Unfortunately its rather undermined by two things:
    1) he doesn’t interview anyone who has actually been cancelled, thus allowing people to dismiss it as being itself pearl clutching in the face of criticism
    2) Its on Sky, i.e. Murdochvision

    1. Murdoch doesn’t own Sky anymore. Hadn’t you heard? It’s now owned by Comcast. 21st Century Fox were outbid by Comcast and the former company’s remaining assets were purchased by Disney. This happened two years ago.

  12. I remember Jordan mentioning lobsters having a hierarchical social structure with no social constructs involved because – lobsters. And the authoritarian left went nuts. They called him lobster-man and all kinds of ad-hominems, but they never did reply to his main point, social structures can exist where social constructs don’t exist.

    And for his ability to drive the auyhoritarian left crazy over stating a simple fact I can overlook a lot of his idiosyncrasies.

  13. It would be nice to see from the Cancelers what specific things in the book they dislike. They need to be pinned down on the nature of their objections.

    Such a discussion would undoubtedly reveal that JP is nowhere near the monster they think he is. I share the same opinion as Jerry…I think JP has some ok things to say here and there, but can also be a bit of a space cadet, so I generally don’t take him too seriously.

    But, it’s not like the guy is Alex Jones or something…he’s not even in that galaxy!

  14. I have had employees over the years tell me they did not support the direction in which I was taking our department. My response to each was the same, “You will be missed.”

  15. I’m glad that Penguin Random House isn’t caving in to cancel culture. Anyone involved in publishing should have an ethical commitment to Enlightenment values, including freedom of expression. The complainers seem to want PRH to act as a propagandist, not a publisher.

  16. If these employees feel that strongly about Penguin publishing the offending book, let them seek employment elsewhere. I am so tired of these whiny children. John Stuart Mill said “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that”… I believe that and phrased another way, that if you don’t know the other side of the argument, there is no way to defend your own position. Not everything you don’t like is hate speech. Damn….enough!

  17. Despite Peterson being demonized by the Authoritarian Left for his views on pronouns and masculinity (neither of which I agree with), …

    Peterson’s views on pronouns are:

    — he will, of course, use people’s preferred pronouns as a matter of courtesy.

    — he objects to being *legally compelled* to use specified pronouns (as a Canadian law requires).

    Those view seem fine to me.

    Of course the Woke misrepresent him, claiming that he refuses to use people’s preferred pronouns. As far as I can make out, that is a porky pie.

    1. As has been explained to him many times he is not being legally compelled to use the correct pronouns. His continued failure to understand this really makes it seem as though he’s misrepresenting the law in order to give himself cover to complain about pronouns.

      1. Though the Ontario Human Right Commission has issued guidance saying:

        “Gender-based harassment can involve: (5) Refusing to refer to a person by their self-identified name and proper personal pronoun.”

        A refusal to use such pronouns could thus lead to being taken to a tribunal which could fine you.

        1. He exaggerated that whole thing. This site explains the Ontario Human Rights Code.

          Notably two things:

          The Code does not specify the use of any particular pronoun or other terminology.


          Refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name and a personal pronoun that matches their gender identity, or purposely misgendering, will likely be discrimination when it takes place in a social area covered by the Code, including employment, housing and services like education. The law is otherwise unsettled as to whether someone can insist on any one gender-neutral pronoun in particular.

          In other words, it could be seen in the employment setting that repeatedly misgendering a person is a form of harassment. Of note is the last sentence as being unsettled. I think someone who is misgendered purposely whether trans or not could have a case for harassment much like someone making fun of your accent all the time at work or mocking your ethnicity or religion.

          In my view Peterson had some valid points at first but then took this way far to get attention or just because he’s who he is.

          1. Diana,

            He may well have exaggerated on the issue of legal enforcement of gender pronouns. But he was a welcome early voice in terms of the incursion of identity politics. For instance in his 2016 appearance with a panel on The Agenda with Steve Paikin, Peterson raised his concerns about UofT making anti racism and anti-bias training “mandatory” for some departments.

            Further, he pointed out that the implications of letters he’d received from UofT asking him to stop speaking on this had “reasonable implications” that his push-back against gender claims and being forced to use different pronouns could be seen as “hate speech.”

            Whether that was technically true at the time, a panel guest – a transgender studies prof at UOT – accused Jordan of “abusing” students when not using their preferred pronouns, and Jordon drew out from the TG prof his stance that it was also tantamount to “violence” and “hate speech.”

            So whether it had made it to the letter of the law or not, a professor on the panel exhibited exactly the dangerous overreach Peterson was gesturing towards.

            I found it chilling.

            And, contra-Yakaru who feels Peterson has never said or done anything of worth, I was one of a great many to whom Peterson brought this concern to attention.

            (Again, I think Peterson gets bonkers on various issues, but he’s sharp on others).

      2. There was also a recent case in the UK where a woman had been assaulted by a male-bodied trans woman. In court the victim referred to the assailant as “he” (she felt that his male sex and larger, stronger male body, rather than his female gender identity, was more pertinent to his aggression and the assault). The judge criticised her and denied her compensation as a consequence.

  18. When writers and publishers take a stand against free speech, it seems like an old fashioned dystopian science fiction book.

    Although the phrase is over used, it is truly Orwellian:
    “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

  19. Oh no. Canceling that idiot just plays straight into his pathetic whining and self-righteous victimhood. They should have either objected on the grounds of lack of quality, or just shut up and waited for his stupid book to sink beneath the waves.

    Ignoring this attention-seeking mentally disturbed godawful boring lunatic is the only way to deal with him, but it’s not possible if people keep giving him a chance to play the poor powerless victim again and again. He’ll be all over social media again for years now with his pathetic whining.

    To be clear, it would all have been avoided had he followed his own rule #6– “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world”. Instead there he is overdosing on prescription meds & going to Russia to do a dangerous cold-turkey-coma quack rehab & catching corona in process.

    There’s a hilarious video of him excitedly babbling to Donald Trump Jr about how to oppose the left. Don Jr starts off politely listening but after the first 30 seconds of Petersen’s incoherent blithering his eyes have glazed over and he’s trying to sidle away.

    1. “Ignoring this attention-seeking mentally disturbed godawful boring lunatic is the only way to deal with him, but it’s not possible if people keep giving him a chance to play the poor powerless victim again and again.”

      A little over the top, don’t you think? And inaccurate, in that he does not preach a message of powerlessness, quite the opposite in fact.

      Now, I don’t consider him any kind of genius, but he does make some decent points. The biggest issue with JP is not that he is a dangerous lunatic, it’s that he is probably more than a bit overrated. A lot of what he says is rather mundane and obvious.

      1. He got famous by claiming he’d be sent to jail for using the wrong pronoun. He is to Men’s Rights Activists what Deepak Chopra is to cancer quacks, only Deepak is more coherent. And no one here would bother to defend Deepak.

        He has has never made a single utterance that is in any way noteworthy at all. Yes — mundane and obvious. Otherwise, it’s only bizarre and twisted rants, utterly fatuous Jungian esoterica, or some other form of styrofoam bullshit.

        A pointless and dangerous waste of intellectual space.

        1. ^^^^ Well…there’s a subjective rant.


          I’m not Peterson acolyte, but a great many people feel they have been helped in their life, getting through tough times, through some of Peterson’s teachings.

          I know some well-adjusted, non “woo-woo” decent people who feel Peterson made a positive effect on their life.

          Further, I think Peterson, even when wrong, had the effect of making intellectual thought attractive, and bringing all sorts of people to think about subjects they wouldn’t normally have given the time of day. I’ve seen the effect all over the place.
          (I would also say the same about people like Sam Harris).

          So, like you, I’d disagree with some portion of what Peterson says, but it comes off to me just as facile to simply dismiss him to the degree you have done, as you are painting him.

          1. To be honest, that’s exactly the same comment I get on my blog when I write about Louise Hay or any number of cancer quacks. People feel helped by him, but only if they were lacking the most obvious and puerile advice.

            And it ignores the criticism.

    2. Yep, full on Streisand Effect. I was enjoying not hearing him blather on for a while. And that whole situation with him going to Russia for treatment was completely over the top crazy.

  20. “Memo to employees: if your first instinct when confronting a manuscript from a person you dislike is to demand that it not be published, publishing is probably not the right career choice for you. Feel free to seek employment elsewhere …”

  21. As an atheist, I can think of a book in very wide distribution that depicts me
    as foolish, corrupt, detestable, abominable, immoral and deserving of disenfranchisement and even ongoing torture.

    I’m typing this through tears, as the very existence of this book has reduced me to a blob of traumatized quivering jelly crying out to Stop Publishing The Book!!!

    (*just kidding, not it hasn’t: I just provide better arguments against it’s silly claims).

  22. “authoritarian left” you mean liberals, because marxists laughs at Peterson critiques on marxism. It’s like a creationist critique on evolution.

  23. Jordan Peterson confuses me in that I can rarely understand what he is saying (and generally I love parsing philosophy so it’s not as if this tends to be an area of difficulty for me,) and when I do, his message seems to consist of stuff that he has made up and declared to have some vague ‘evolution based Because Science and stuff’ grounding. To be brutally honest, I think his core audience is made up of people who just hear a bunch of sophisticated sounding words strung together and are impressed, without being aware that what he’s saying makes very little sense. To my mind he is all style and questionable substance, and where he does posit something of substance, it tends to be authoritarian Rightwing-speak dressed up in gentlemanly, common sense talk (for example, “Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them” – yes, the ‘parent as tyrant whose whims are the most important thing in a family’ is certainly a far Right trope so I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but it’s still generally unbalanced parenting advice. There are any number of reasons why the fulfillment of a parent’s personal preferences and whims may not be in society’s or the child’s best interests – sometimes the child should bend to the will of the parents, but sometimes, the parents need to sacrifice their whims, preferences, and visions to align with the unique talents and disposition of a given child. In fact you risk squashing them into an ill-fitted mold and wasting their natural talents if you don’t put your own preferences aside sometimes. So here, I don’t see his advice as being based on anything other than, again, accepted Rightward wisdom.)

    That said, the idea that people are crying in meetings over the publication of a book like this is just silliness, and honestly, an example of just the mold-squashing that I talked about above. This is just, to my mind, the new corporate-speak, at least in some areas, that people are to dutifully recite if they want to prove themselves to be ‘in the know’ and part of the elite. 200 years ago, the equivalent would have been some rogue rascal ‘scandalizing’ and ‘traumatizing’ the delicate people of polite society by showing up to the opera in coarse street clothes. FFS, I feel we’re a few weeks away from someone reintroducing swooning couches in these environments.

    1. “To be brutally honest, I think his core audience is made up of people who just hear a bunch of sophisticated sounding words strung together and are impressed, without being aware that what he’s saying makes very little sense.”

      Yep. He’s an incoherent loon. You can hear him interrupting *himself* in the middle of every sentence when he gets excited by his own ideas. It’s a bit like with Dave “Jesus was surrounded by Muslims” Rubin. Anyone who claims to be on the left while dumping on the left until they wind up as Trump voters, usually finds a ready-made audience.

      1. Yes, and if questioned he tends to act angrily to shut down discussion. I had to stop listening to him talk to Sam Harris because it was painful. I don’t know why Sam tried further conversations with him.

        1. I thought Sam’s first interview with him was good — he stopped him flat on his hilariously stupid evolution-based definition of truth. Sam’s jujitsu-style of debating worked well on him. It’s also beyond me why Sam later decided to jump into the mire with him.

      2. Yeah, I have to say, after I wrote this I Googled his parenting advice and found it absolutely disturbing. His description of force feeding his toddler son (poking him until he screamed, then forcing a spoon into his mouth and forcing his hands into his mouth so he couldn’t spit out the food… I mean Jesus) to basically “show him who’s in charge!” was stomach turning and to my mind crossed a line into child abuse. If anyone did that to my son I would absolutely try to press charges, that he’s marketing it as parenting advice actually does make me think there’s a legit time and place for censorship. I wouldn’t want an unwitting parent to think “Oh, he has all these credentials, force feeding is how you should deal with feeding issues in toddlers!”. Really really disgusted after reading that.

          1. Yeah, and apparently speaks from a place of total ignorance / personal projection on his subject matter. There are a number of reasons, from a developmental and evolutionary standpoint, that toddlers are notoriously picky eaters. Really pushing the whole “If your toddler doesn’t do exactly what you want, they’re disrespecting you, make them obey at all costs!” (he literally refers to it as a ‘war’) is just a horrible message to put out there. Parenting is often going to be an exercise in frustration no matter what one’s philosophy is, and putting that message into a frustrated parent’s head (“This is frustrating because they’re disrespecting you! It’s a war! You have to win!” rather than “You’re not doing it (parenting) wrong, it’s just *that* hard. Be patient.”) sets up a terrible framework in people’s minds.

            To be fair, I will say this is an exercise in seeing how my intuitions change when someone puts out a message that concerns my actual, literal baby. When people call using the wrong pronoun “violence” I say, oh, ffs, grow up, but when someone in a position of power preaches that children must be dominated by parents, I can see making a case for the idea that merely sharing those ideas with vulnerable parties could endanger a child. I do still think there are differences there – if I left my child with a babysitter and found out she, with good intentions, held him down and force fed him because she was misled by Jordan Peterson, I think that would be a much worse outcome than if she repeatedly called him ‘her’ while babysitting due to reading Jordan Peterson. But I suppose it does help me see how people do in good faith make anti- free speech arguments. I don’t think everyone who does so does so in good faith, of course, and controlling speech is often a method for controlling people, period. That said, I think if you empathize with a particular group enormously, over and above pretty much all other groups to the point that they are your metaphorical ‘baby’, then, again, I guess this gives me a window of insight into how such arguments start to make sense in that framework.

  24. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve known of JP for many years because he was a regular on TVOntario’s nightly show The Agenda. They seemed to drag him on whenever they wanted an angry contrarian.

    As someone on this site said, JP says a lot of stuff that is cogent but not original to him, and what is original to him is not cogent. In any case, that’s no argument for a publisher not to publish his book (they are in it to make money, after all).

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *