Canadian professor Jordan Peterson ignites controversy by not using gender neutral pronouns
Toronto,Nov5:University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson had enough of what he saw as a campus culture where “social justice warrior, left-wing radical political activists” ran rampant.
In September he released a video lecture series taking aim at political correctness.
He zeroed in on Canadian human rights legislation that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression.
Dr Peterson was especially frustrated with being asked to use alternate pronouns as requested by trans students or staff, like the singular ‘they’ or ‘ze’ and ‘zir’, used by some as alternatives to ‘she’ or ‘he’.
In his opposition, he set off a political and cultural firestorm that shows no signs of abating.
At a free speech rally mid-October, he was drowned out by a white noise machine. Pushing and shoving broke out in the crowd.
He says the lock on his office door was glued shut.
At the same time, the University of Toronto said it had received complaints of threats against trans people on campus.
His employers have warned that, while they support his right to academic freedom and free speech, he could run afoul of the Ontario Human Rights code and his faculty responsibilities should he refuse to use alternate pronouns when requested.
They also said they have received complaints from students and faculty that his comments are “unacceptable, emotionally disturbing and painful” and have urged him to stop repeating them.
The university is also trying to organise a “civil and respectful” debate, which would include Dr Peterson, to discuss gender provisions in federal and provincial human rights legislation.
Either way, Dr Peterson is not backing down.
“I’ve studied authoritarianism for a very long time – for 40 years – and they’re started by people’s attempts to control the ideological and linguistic territory,” he told the BBC.
“There’s no way I’m going to use words made up by people who are doing that – not a chance.”
Dr Peterson is concerned proposed federal human rights legislation “will elevate into hate speech” his refusal to use alternative pronouns.