Major New Zealand bookstore bans Jordan Peterson’s book in shocking act of censorship
Whitcoulls, a major New Zealand bookstore with 50 shops nationwide, has removed Dr. Jordan Peterson’s best selling self-help book 12 Rules for Life from their shelves in the wake of the deadliest terrorist attack in the country’s history.
On March 15, a deranged gunman attacked two mosques in Christchurch in an act of Islamaphobic hate. It didn’t take long for the politicization of this unspeakable tragedy to begin. Within minutes, politicians, pundits, and keyboard warriors were attacking each other based on ideological differences.
The Daily Dot, an embarrassingly progressivist outlet, used the tragedy as an opportunity to slander the popular YouTuber PewDiePie as a “Nazi”, a claim with absolutely no basis in fact.
Now the mob is once again coming after Dr. Peterson—another major cultural influencer. The decision to ban Dr. Peterson’s book can not be seen as anything other than a straight-up power grab by authoritarians who wish to use a period of mourning and deep human suffering for their own censorious gain. And it comes directly after Cambridge University’s decision to rescind their offer of a two-month visiting fellowship for Peterson.
Nick Monroe, an independent, Twitter-based journalist found the evidence of the banning on Reddit and put in on blast in a tweet early Thursday morning:
The tweet features a screenshot of a customer service rep’s email to an enquiring customer. In it, the rep named Erica writes, “Unfortunately, 12 Rules for Life is currently unavailable, which is a decision that Whitcoulls has made in light of some extremely disturbing material being circulated prior, during, and after the Christchurch attacks. As a business which takes our responsibilities to our communities very seriously, we believe it would be wrong to support the author at this time.”
Monroe pointed in the same Twitter thread that Hitler’s Mein Kampf remains on Whitcoulls shelves. A brief browse of Whitcoulls’ inventory reveals that they are selling Mao’s Little Red Book. They also haven’t pulled all of the books Peterson is associated with, just the major sellers. Vox Day—an actual member of the alt-right—still has his book available in Whitcoulls stores.
Though Peterson is the farthest thing from an alt-right figure, wasn’t even remotely involved in the attacks, actively discourages violence, and, in fact, wrote 12 Rules for Life in order to help people figure out how to get their lives in order, he has been smeared again and again by leftists who associate his message of competence and responsibility with one of “violence.” For Peterson’s readers and listeners, this hasn’t made any sense, and continues to be perplexing. The only logical reason for ideologues to do this is to remove his influence from our culture.
This dangerous trend banning books, and associating relevant and meaningful ideas with violence and destruction must reverse, though it seems like it’s just beginning. Ideas are not the enemy, books are not the enemy, reasonable thought and discourse are the way out of mayhem, not what is standing in the way. People are not going to get on board with a given perspective simply because alternatives are denied to them. Intellectual exploration is what makes peaceful democracies, open minds, and reasonable thinkers who do not advocate for hate and exploitation. Assuming that Peterson is more dangerous than Nazi ideology, or even to associate his scholarship with anything like that, is to give credence to authoritarianism.
If reasonable ideas are banned, if forthright authors are prohibited, what happens when people discover them on their own? When you deem a perfectly reasonable book worthy of censorship, what does that do to society’s conception of truly dangerous ideas? The worst ideas of mankind should be shown for what they are, in the fluorescent light of bookshop displays.
The idea that a Canadian psychologist with classically liberal views and a desire to help young people lead authentic lives should be in any way associated with the horrific act of violence that happened in Christchurch is an insult to him, to reasonable minded people everywhere, and to the western concept of a free society.
We must put a stop to this Orwellian madness before it’s too late.
On January 7th, The Post Millennial reported that a Professor at the University of Calgary tweeted about failing students if they cited Jordan Peterson. Ted McCoy, chair of the Law and Society program at the UoC, apologized shortly after his tweet went viral, asserting that the flippant comment was “a joke” and insisting that he did “take seriously … students’ right to free expression.”
In wake of the social media fallout, sources from within the University of Calgary have come forward to The Post Millennial to assert that McCoy’s comments were anything but a joke. The identities of those who spoke out are being protected for their safety due to their proximity to McCoy.
“He absolutely was not kidding. He absolutely does penalize students for holding divergent views.” Said one source, a former professor at the University of Calgary and current professor at another institution.
“He literally tells students to not read Quillette,” the source revealed, drawing from discussions had with McCoy’s students, “He’s walked into class and expressed how disappointed he was in the amount of conservative ideas being expressed.”
The source noted that students often came to her with complaints about McCoy’s in-class political proselytizing, fearing poor grades because of their ideological differences.
“Students have just learned to shut-up and parrot whatever he wants to hear.” The source revealed that McCoy was the only professor teaching a mandatory capstone exit course required for some students’ successful degree completion in the Law and Society program.
Being the coordinator for the Law and Society program, McCoy is also responsible for hiring new faculty members. Noting that a great deal of faculty has abruptly ceased teaching in the program, the source claimed that all of the new hires have been people who “share [McCoy’s] ideological perspective” and “have no qualifications whatsoever to teach Law and Society.”
A student who took McCoy’s class corroborated the faculty member’s comments.
“I have actually told other students to not enroll in the Law and Society program because of McCoy,” he said, noting a number of distressing interactions with his former Professor.
“The first day of class, within the first fifteen minutes, he explicitly states ‘the goal of this course is to radicalize you. Before you leave University, I want to radicalize you.’” The former student, who identifies as “left-wing” politically, says McCoy immediately introduced the class to a bizarre coding system by which participation was noted for grades.
“[McCoy told students] that he will make a mark beside your name when you contribute to the class discussion. He told us he has a symbol system for if a student made an insightful comment, all the way up to ‘what you said was batshit crazy.’” The former student says the class was “immediately politicized,” with students fearing to vocalize their opinions if it contradicted McCoy’s ideological perspective.
The former student also revealed that McCoy assigned his own writings as well as books written by his Ph.D. supervisor as mandatory readings for the class, leaving students fearful to express criticism. When one student did, noting the lack of objectivity in one of the readings, McCoy berated him.
Recalling another class, the former student says that McCoy blasted Jordan Peterson to the class.
“He came into class with his head in his hands and looked upset. He was shaking his head and sighing.” When a student asked what was bothering the Professor, McCoy went on to complain about Jordan Peterson. “He said he had been reading a lot of Jordan Peterson, and said he ‘cannot believe’ how Peterson ‘thinks he knows everything.’”
After a student defended Peterson, McCoy reportedly went on a tangent.
“He said Peterson is basically espousing hate speech and he ought to be deplatformed in the strongest sense.” the former student said.
“I was distressed that a Professor would take such an obvious political stance in his teaching,” the former student said, going on to reveal he felt “unsafe” with McCoy’s control over his grade. Because of this student’s concerns about entering graduate school, he said he learned to stop challenging McCoy.
“I basically kowtowed in my papers. I would just tell him what he wanted to hear.” Going on to note that conservative students never spoke in class out of fear of angering McCoy.
Since graduating, the former student says his friends who have entered McCoy’s class have texted him for help navigating the Professor’s extreme ideology.
“[McCoy] was unequivocally one of the worst professors I’ve ever had, and it was because the class was more about politics than it was critical thinking.”
On January 9th, McCoy tweeted and quickly deleted a post suggesting he had only apologized at the advice of administration.
The Post Millennial has reached out to Dr. Ted McCoy, the Law and Society program, and Sociology department head Dr. Fiona Nelson at the University of Calgary, but have not received a response by the time of publication.
Ted McCoy, a historian of prisons and punishment, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary, has tweeted out that the rumours about him are true: any student who cites Dr. Jordan Peterson in his class will fail. He lists himself as anti-fascist, and his pronouns he/him.
According to the University of Calgary, his areas of interest include, Social Inequality and Social Justice, Criminology and Deviance, Health, Illness and Medicine, Work and Occupations, and First Nations. We assume it’s the interest in “Social Justice” that led him to make this censorious claim on Twitter, promising to punish students for citing one of the most renowned scholars in the world.
McCoy has since deleted the tweet, but the internet never forgets. The archived tweet can be found here. Professor McCoy joins a dubious list of social justice professors like Matthew Sears who have contracted what can only be described as PDS: Peterson Derangement Syndrome.
People have lost their collective minds when it comes to Dr. Peterson. Bookstores have banned his books, movie theatres have cancelled screenings of films featuring him, The New York Times blacklisted his bestseller from their list, Universities have deplatformed his speaking engagements. It’s all a bit much for a psychologist whose life’s work is dedicated to improving people’s lives.
Ironically, Professor McCoy teaches a class called “Self-Regulation” which examines how individuals and groups create, maintain, and follow non-legal codes of conduct and, in turn, regulate themselves and society.
Apparently McCoy is too deranged by his jealousy-fuelled fever dreams of Jordan Peterson to apply the lessons of his course to his own online behaviour.
I’m the daughter of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. I’ve also made a name for myself by promoting an all-meat diet (The Lion Diet) for the last two years. This diet, I believe, healed my medically-uncontrollable autoimmune disease. Hence, I know a thing or two about trolls. Trolls are a bipartisan problem, and we need to know how to deal with them.
It started with my dad when he went viral in 2016 due to his stance on preferred pronouns (Bill C16 in Canada). His principled stance led international notoriety and fame. It was the left that first came after him. The onslaught was an attempt to put him in a box—who was Jordan Peterson? We’ve had the terms alt-right, male-chauvinist, free speech warrior, an anti-trans rights conservative thrown around a lot. Some even compared him to Hitler. None of that was remotely accurate—he just thinks people’s lives would be improved if they told the truth. Most manifestations were online, but some were quite real—we’ve had posters put up around our neighbourhood with a “warning” sign and his face on them.
I wouldn’t call the people who did this trolls. While they were certainly out to harm his reputation, their key driver was fear. They were also devoid of a sense of humour.
Trolls use humour, or most of them do. There are funny ones who tease, ones that make memes, satirical trolls (see Titania McGrath), those who push boundaries, but there are also trolls who see someone struggling and take that opportunity to add in a bit more suffering. There are trolls who are really just damaged individuals, and instead of taking that hurt and thinking, “I’ve experienced pain and the world would be a better place if there was less of that,” they think, “I’ve experienced pain and that wasn’t fair, so everyone else should suffer as I did.”
The left is interesting insofar as they claim to discourage bullying, but there are many vicious bullies among them. My father was attacked without an ounce of humour, initially. After the left had their fill, there was backlash from the right when they realized he didn’t really fit into their box, either. Some just poked fun at my dad—particularly with memes which we quite enjoyed. But there were also those who psychopathically hid behind their keyboards and looked for any sign of weakness to exploit, just because they were bored.
The internet has had a field day with my story, and how could it not? “Single Mother—Daughter of the Custodian of the Patriarchy—Touts An All Meat Diet To Cure Disease.” There couldn’t be an easier target. I had a vegan YouTuber send his 300k+ vegans after me at the same time as a former U.S. comedian with a large (legitimately) alt-right audience, sent his. The barrage of malice and ridicule was overwhelming. I reached a point where I couldn’t laugh it off anymore.
Then someone published a book about my diet claiming to be Jordan and I. It was listed in the Toxicology section of Amazon. Definitely a troll, somewhat annoying, but at least it was a little funny, and brought my sense of humour back. I bought one of the books just to have around. That all happened in a two week period, at the same time as my Dad entered rehab (at least partly due to the stress of being attacked from all angles for the last three years). This is what a well-permeated troll culture can achieve.
So how did we get here? Well, a couple of things have led to this troll culture we live in. The first was the uniting power of the internet. Most people are fairly agreeable, or society wouldn’t function. Disagreeable people (mostly men), being a statistical minority, have a hard time getting along with others, and trolling in real life can have very immediate consequences. However, if you say something provocative online, it’s from behind a screen so there really isn’t much danger. You venture out to different corners of the internet, trolling, until you find your little group with relatively few repercussions. It’s these communities of disagreeable, rather malicious individuals that can self-organize towards attacking a particular person or idea.
The far left has—and still is—trying to shut down our ability to tease each other, and joke in real life. One of the reasons teasing is fun is because it is provocative—a safe means for pushing boundaries. However, the logic of the far left resembles something like “if something is provocative, then it is mean, and if it is mean, it needs to be stopped.”
There’s no nuance. Comedians are getting censored, for God’s sake. Comedians. They’re professional jokers and they’re getting censored. What type of message does that send? That you don’t know have a right to judge what is offensive or non-offensive anymore? For example, I was part of a Facebook group where someone demanded a trigger warning before talking about renovations, just in case someone couldn’t afford to do the same renovations. And they were dead serious. How could a disagreeable person, especially one with a support group not attack that? Hell, I couldn’t even help it, and I was a pregnant woman at the time.
I believe that by striving for tolerance and conformity, the left both bred new trolls and made them much more influential by removing real-world competition. When trolling first started it would have been a few disagreeable individuals, but now anyone with a sense of humour can be considered a troll. Since society can’t handle comedians anymore, we now have trolls to poke fun at us and see how far we can be pushed. Some are funny. Some push too far, but, is it because they are, perhaps, getting pushed themselves? At least partly.
This is what happens when people aren’t allowed to tease each other, and discussions are literally banned. Combine that with digital impunity and a loyal fan club for the most vicious trolls… What do we expect? We can’t really fight back. And you know what? That’s okay. Just like a comedian is defined by the response of his or her audience, so is the influence of a troll defined by the attention they can stir up.
So I’ll end with a few suggestions coming from years of experience dealing with trolls.
- Do not engage. They will say anything to get a response. Ignore them. There’s no winning against someone trying to make the world a worse place.
- Laugh it off. Try and see the humour in it. Instead of taking offence. Our culture is more and more devoid of poking fun at stressful situations and we should be trying to increase that wherever we can. How else do you deal with the brutality of life? Humour is key. Even if that’s making fun of my family and my ridiculous diet.
- Support free speech in real life. If we want to limit trolling on the internet, we should make trolling more acceptable in the real world. The more free speech is shut down, the more comedians are censored, and the more disagreeable people are silenced, the stronger this troll culture will get.
Try not to take yourself too seriously. And have a steak.
Is Dr. Jordan Peterson a “gateway drug” to the alt-right? Heterodox Academy has published a research summary that attempts to answer that question. What’s weird is that these kinds of questions keep being asked of a mild-mannered psychology professor and author who has helped thousands upon thousands of young people straighten out their lives.
This study used machine learning tools in a similar way that Becca Lewis did in her infamous and debunked Data and Society report. (Lewis, by the way, was recently caught spreading misinformation about Peterson and his daughter on Twitter.) It also cites as evidence this panic-driven Cornell study that embarrassingly refers to moderate Conservative Canadian MP Michelle Rempel as “alt-lite” (whatever the hell that means).
Much of Peterson’s draw has been from the young, white, male community, and once he realized they were listening, he has reached out to this demographic. This is the same demographic that, in the spirit of righting old wrongs, has been so vilified. However, to say that he reached out to this demographic because of their identity would be a mistake.
Prior to the YouTube video on pronouns that sparked his international fame, Peterson was giving lectures on religion, mythology, and virtue. He was talking about the importance of personal responsibility and the lessons of western culture. The people who wanted to hear how they could change their lives for the better, without waiting for an organization, or government, or society to change it for them, listened. Once Peterson emerged onto the bigger stage, that message was amplified, and even more people were able to hear it.
Are those people hateful? Are these folks who go to YouTube to try and make themselves better, bad? How can this be quantified? The way that these people are organized into groups is pretty much arbitrary, as are the groups they are classified into. Studies like this look first at viewers because it is so hard to quantify what constitutes hate speech.
What this means is that instead of trying to identify the language that is hateful, those who are “hateful” are identified, their language analyzed and tracked across the platform. After users have been assigned to groups based on perceived identity, the language within the channels used by those groups is deconstructed to see where it overlaps.
This is the information that is used to determine whether or not Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is a “bad guy” or whether he should “do better.” The conclusion is that he isn’t quite, but he should do better somehow, use different language. The idea is that he should not make himself attractive to those individuals who may otherwise tend toward disenfranchisement. We’ve got to a point where a person’s perceived proclivity is enough to make them untouchable.
But here’s the thing: Jordan Peterson’s entire project is not about identity, not even a little. It’s actually anti-identity. Identity politics is being grafted over him where it does not actually exist. The reason people feel comfortable doing that is because we live in an identity-based age, where it is assumed that everything boils down to identity eventually. It is probable, even likely, that for many people, identity factors are irrelevant to how they live their lives.
The authors claim that they do not want Peterson to “self-censor.” But then they go on to say, “Instead, we would encourage Peterson et al. to consider ways they may be able to make the same points, just as forcefully, while avoiding a particular set of tropes.”
What is “avoiding a particular set of tropes” if not self-censorship? You can use as much window dressing as you want on your authoritarianism but it doesn’t change the fact that you are an authoritarian.
Sometimes a problem requires a simpler explanation. Yes, there are bad actors in the world. And yes, the internet is full of them. The alt-right spreads hate and panic and their vile ideas must be combatted. But the notions of guilt-by-association or guilt-by-proximity that studies like this propagate are dangerous and counterproductive. We used to know this.
Peterson has been able to tap into the hated white cis male category of people, and for that he is vilified. It’s been determined that people who fall into that identity category are a problem, but they deserve compassion, too. How people are identified is not always how they identify, and either way, a person’s identity should never be used against them. We used to know that, too.
Peterson is as clear and concise as possible, and if his ideas reach people who are operating in the world in dangerous, destructive ways, there’s every reason to believe that they will rethink that behaviour. Not all audiences can hear the same message in the same way. If these angry young people can’t hear messages of inclusivity, anti-racism, and personal responsibility from the trending leftist sources, there must be voices, like Peterson’s, speaking in a way that they can hear.
Regardless of their mindset, these young people do not deserve to be lost, tossed aside, or dismissed. Their lives have meaning and Peterson tells them that. The truth of the matter is that Jordan Peterson has been a great force for deradicalization in ways that are not easily explained by elaborate data sets. There are countless examples people whose lives have been improved by his advice that will never be tracked by IP address or pixel.
It seems strange that of all platforms, Heterodox Academy, which purports to promote “open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in institutions of higher learning,” would run such a narrowly defined piece of research. It appears to be the kind of identity-obsessed scholarship that Heterodox Academy usually fights back against.
We live in an era that depends too heavily on machine learning. Peterson preaches the exact opposite of this: deeply personal, human, and humane learning. He is not easily quantified because his message based in neither identity nor algorithm, but in classical values. Concepts that can’t be instantly categorized as either left or right don’t have a place in the easily digestible, portion-controlled ideological landscape.