Jonathon Van Maren

From the front lines of the culture wars


Liberal columnist misgenders transgender critic Dr. Jordan Peterson

Apparently the Left's standards of basic courtesy can be suspended for ideological opponents.
Thu Nov 23, 2017 - 12:45 pm EST
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Dr. Jordan Peterson in a January 2018 interview with Britain’s Channel Four. Screen-grab

November 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – In a painful screed last week, Tabatha Southey—a writer recently fired from the Globe and Mail and subsequently picked up by Maclean’sspent an entire essay wondering: “Is Jordan Peterson the stupid man’s smart person?”

The University of Toronto psychology professor, who rose to prominence after his refusal to use a variety of recently-invented transgender pronouns, presumably attracted her ire because his work is far more popular than hers, or anyone else she knows. “Peterson first made the news and became a belle of the alt-right,” she wrote, “when, in September 2016, he announced that he would not use a student’s preferred pronoun if he were asked to, except that he might if he felt the request was ‘genuine,’ and no one had asked him that anyway.”

In a confusing turn of events, Southey then proceeded to misgender Peterson several times herself, announcing her column on social media as a takedown of “Her Ladyship Professor Jordan Peterson” and referring to him the column as “Mistress Peterson.” Then again, perhaps she feels as if the standards of what she claims to believe to be basic courtesy only apply to those of the same ideological stripe as her, and can thus be suspended when someone who does not share her views dares to speak his mind.

Southey did, however, awkwardly compare referring to a student by their “preferred pronoun” with calling a family friend “Auntie.” Considering that the family friend she referred to was not actually a blood relative (just as the student requesting a pronoun may be donning an identity at odds with biological reality), perhaps Southey is signalling that she finds the premises of transgenderism dubious, as well. What Southey did make clear with an abundance of ineffectual ridicule is that she finds Peterson’s case against these pronouns stupid, although she sidesteps his well-articulated objection to “compelled speech” and instead settles for mocking the idea that this violation of freedom of speech could pose a threat to Western Civilization.

Only four possible conclusions can be reached upon reading Southey’s analysis: She is lazy and didn’t want to take the time to grapple with Peterson’s actual arguments; she missed his point entirely; she didn’t comprehend his objections to compelled speech; or she decided to thrash around on the ground with straw men in order to smear him with the “alt-right” label. Many liberal journalists have discovered—or perhaps not—that the fishbowl they inhabit is very difficult to leap out of, and Southey’s sad sequence of snark is prime evidence of that.

At one point, Southey notes that you only have to “spend half an hour on his website” to realize that his ideas are shallow, at no point countenancing the idea that perhaps more than thirty minutes are necessary to gain a passing familiarity with Peterson’s work. His cultural analysis so thoroughly escapes Southey that she is reduced to sputtering and playing adolescent word-games with his name. (“Pete the Beet,” for example, is apparently her idea of humor.) One thing becomes abundantly clear by what passes for a conclusion to her ramble: Jordan B. Peterson is a respected psychologist, and Tabatha Southey is posing as a humorist. 

  jordan peterson, macleans, transgenderism

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