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Fans cry “censorship” after Jordan Peterson loses a gig at Cambridge, while the supposedly silenced prof brags about his YouTube traffic

JP poses with a fan during a recent visit to New Zealand

By David Futrelle

Jordan Peterson is mightily miffed. In an angry statement first published on his blog yesterday (and then in Canada’s National Post), the Intellectual Dark Webster accused Cambridge University of “kowtowing to an ill-informed, ignorant and ideologically-addled mob” after Cambridge’s Divinity School rescinded its offer of a two-month fellowship.

According to Divinity school officials, the short-tempered Canadian Lobsterprof had “requested a visiting fellowship at the Faculty of Divinity, and an initial offer has been rescinded after a further review.” A University spokesperson added that “we expect all our staff and visitors to uphold our [inclusive] principles. There is no place here for anyone who cannot.”

Peterson is so intolerant of so many groups it’s hard to know which particular brand of bigotry bothered the folks at Cambridge most. Was it his transphobic tantrum about using the proper pronouns for trans people? Was it his weird uneasiness about the very presence of women in the workplace, or his advocacy for some form of “enforced monogamy” to ensure that potentially murderous incels can get dates? (Why he’s convinced it would be a good thing for women to date men capable of going on shooting sprees I couldn’t tell you.)

Was it his tendency to threaten critics with lawsuits or literal slap-fights? Was it his contention that entire academic disciplines that he doesn’t like, including “women’s studies, and all the ethnic studies and racial studies … have to go and the faster they go the better.”

Or perhaps, in the wake of the New Zealand massacre, they were troubled by his many weird statements about Islam, including his repeated insistence that Islamophobia isn’t really a thing and is just a term made up by evil leftists and/or “fascists” trying to shut down “debate” on Islam?

Or perhaps they were concerned with Peterson’s marked lack of intolerance towards outright anti-Islam bigots, perhaps best symbolized by the picture (above) of him posing proudly with a fan in New Zealand whose t-shirt announces his hatred bluntly, accusing Muslims of an assortment of crimes including “Pedophilia, Rape, Wife-Beating” and “Praying for Violence.”

Would Peterson have happily stood next to someone wearing a shirt declaring “I’m a Proud Anti-Semite,” blaming Jews for alleged crimes like “hoarding money,” “killing Christ,” or “cucking white men with interracial porn?” Would he have posed with someone wearing a “Proud Racist” shirt attacking blacks for “being lazy” or “raping white women?” No, of course not. But he’s happy to put his arm around someone attacking Muslims in similarly bigoted ways.

I’m guessing the Cambridge Divinity School had issues with all of these things, as they well should have.

Many of Peterson’s fans, naturally, are crying “censorship,” as if Cambridge’s ultimate refusal to give a bigot a paid position were some kind of attack on free speech.

https://twitter.com/thewhospage/status/1108534389284179968

In case you’re worried, that last tweet is not from the official account of the band The Who, but from a fellow who describes himself in his Twitter bio as a

#MRA #mgtow #redpilled activist. rightwing. contrarian. not pc ideas. oppose SJWs. friendly. debater, im a believer in Jesus

Peterson, for his part, didn’t actually claim that he was being censored, which would have been a little weird, given that he devoted much of his angry rant on Cambridge’s disinvitation to bragging about how many books he had sold and how many hits his YouTube videos get.

According to Peterson, videos of some of his recent lectures on Genesis (the book in the Bible, not the prog-rock-turned-terrible-pop band)

have received about 10 million hits (as well as an equal or greater number of downloads). The first lecture alone — on the first sentence of Genesis — has garnered 3.7 million views just on YouTube …

It’s also the case that my books, 12 Rules for Life and Maps of Meaning both rely heavily on Judeo-Christian thinking … The former has now sold 3 million copies (one million in tongues other than English), and will be translated into 50 languages; the latter, a much older book, was recently a New York Times bestseller in audio format.

It’s also rather telling that this man whose speech has been so tyrannically silenced is saying all this in a newspaper with a daily circulation of roughly 140,000.

But if Peterson, unlike many of his fans, doesn’t think Cambridge’s disinvitation is censorship, exactly, he does seem to regard it as a symptom of “the collapse of rationality and reason,” to borrow a phrase from Ian Miles Cheong’s tweet above.

“I think that it is deeply unfortunate that the authorities at the Divinity school in Cambridge decided [to kowtow] to an ill-informed, ignorant and ideologically-addled mob,” Peterson declared.

Given the continued decline of church attendance, the rise in atheistic or agnostic sentiment, the increasing irrelevance of theological education and the collapse in interest in such matters among young people, wiser and more profound decisions might have been made.

Apparently his planned lectures on Exodus were the only thing that might have been able to hold off the atheist hordes that will destroy civilization any day now.

You see, it matters whether people around the world understand these ancient stories. It deeply matters. We are becoming unmoored, because we no longer share the structure these stories undergird. This is psychologically destabilizing. It’s producing a pathological and desperate nihilism that is increasingly common and, at the same time, a pronounced proclivity for the ideological certainty that mimics but cannot replace true religious belief.

No, he’s not talking about the “ideological certainty” of the Lobsterboys who think he’s pretty much the next best thing to Jesus; he’s talking about the people who aren’t part of his cult.

I believe that those at the Faculty of Divinity who rescinded their offer to me — and handled the rescindment in a manner that could hardly have been more narcissistic or self-congratulatory — don’t give a damn about the perilous decline of Christianity. I think that it is no bloody wonder that the faith is declining (and with it, the values of the West, as it fragments) with cowards and mountebanks of the sort who manifested themselves in this action.

Kind of a bold move to suggest that someone taking away a temporary academic gig you were kind of looking forward to is a sign of the impending collapse of Western Civilization, but hey. the dude does get a lot of hits on YouTube!

I wish them the continued decline in relevance over the next few decades that they deeply and profoundly and diligently work toward and deserve.

I believe this is just Petersonspeak for “fuck y’all motherfuckers.”

Alas, for poor Jordan Peterson — and possibly for Reason and Truth and Civilization itself — the good professor is also facing an attack from a New Zealand bookstore chain that has decided, in the wake of the Christchurch killings, to remove his books from their shelves.

As far as I know, Peterson hasn’t yet responded to this egregious assault on … the convenience of New Zealanders who will have to get the book from other bookstores or maybe online. But some of his fans are already crying foul for him.

Huh. Is that Lady Liberty wearing a ball gag, and pasties on her possibly augmented breasts? This Free Speech Fundamentalist dude doesn’t seem to be so much interested in free speech as he is in freejacking, at is were, and I don’t mean the 1992 sci-fi-racecar thriller starring Emilio Estevez and Mick Jagger.

And what flag is that on the pasties, anyway?

The culture war is weird.

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Moon Custafer
Moon Custafer
1 year ago

@Bookworm in hijab:

No problem— my name is 50% made-up words anyway, so I didn’t even notice if you spelled it differently.

Ariblester
Ariblester
1 year ago

Moggie wrote on
March 22, 2019 at 2:49 pm:

OT: I often laugh at Jonathan Pie’s routines, even though I don’t always agree with the points he makes in character. But there’s nothing to laugh at any more.

This the same Jonathan Pie who made the “Sorry for mansplaining, but the Left needs to stop being triggered so easily and reorganize to appeal to the centrists” video immediately after Trump’s election?

Scildfreja Unnyðnes
Scildfreja Unnyðnes
1 year ago

@Bookworm in hijab,

I am pretty sure that they go after the hijab and the niqab and the like because women wear them. They get to have some traditional sexism along with their traditional racism.

Angela Fiddler
Angela Fiddler
1 year ago

“the Intellectual Dark Webster accused Cambridge University of “kowtowing to an ill-informed, ignorant and ideologically-addled mob””

Wow. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. He’s made a fortune kowtowing to an ill-informed, ignorant and ideologically-added mob.”

epitome of incomprehensibility

@Scildfreja – Agreed.

@Bookworm in hijab – Quebec, hmm… I live here, but that’s no guarantee I actually know what I’m blathering about… Anyway, I’ll try.

While we get the laïcité idea from France, which is maybe more limiting than the English concept of secularism, the Islamophobes aren’t all separatists. And vice-versa.

E.g. the CAQ seems kind of neutral on the separatism issue. Even the Parti Quebecois, officially separatist, has been stressing that topic less. And the smaller, leftist Quebec Solidaire is both separatist and anti-racist (from what I can tell – I should’ve voted for them last election, but my anglo lizard brain told me to vote for the tiny provincial NDP party).

Another problem: some English-speaking Quebecers go, “Hey! It’s the francophones who are bigots and we’re different! Our culture is superior!!”

Recursive racism? 😛

Anyway, I don’t care if my nation is Quebec or Canada or the Republic of Avocado Toast. I mean, I’ve gotten suspicious of nationalism in general. I used to think that North American nationalism(s) couldn’t logically be racist, because they’re not based on a particular ethnic group, but after Trump and “White Nationalism”… yeah. 🙁

Scanisaurus
Scanisaurus
1 year ago

@Bookworm in hijab,

I am pretty sure that they go after the hijab and the niqab and the like because women wear them. They get to have some traditional sexism along with their traditional racism.

Exactly, whilst I’m opposed to the face covering niqab and burka, going after hijabs is ridiculous. Plenty of western women have worn headscarves to keep their heads warm, and in Sweden there even is an Easter tradition where children go “påskkärring”, basically similar to the American trick or treat on halloween, except the children are always dressed as witches, and that witch costume almost always include a long dress and headscarf. So banning headscarves would basically ruin a big part of Swedish tradition.comment image
As for Jordan Peterson, even if it wasn’t for all his coddling up to fascists and misogyni, I still wouldn’t respect his works, not after claiming to be an expert on myths and then talking about “rescuing your father from the underworld“.

Because as someone who’s actually read up on ancient myths, nearly all myths about someone rescuing someone from the underworld, Inanna/Ishtar rescuing Dumuzuid, Gilgamesh rescuing Enkiddu, Demeter rescuing Kore, Orfeus rescuing Eurodyke and the Aesir rescuing Balder all have two things in common;

1. The person being rescued is a friend, daughter or spouse departed in their prime, not an elderly father figure.

2. None of the heroes actually rescue the persons trapped in the underworld. At best, at great personal sacrifice, some of them make a deal that will let them stay among the living for half of each year but cause cold and winter once they return, but otherwise these stories are all about the fact that you can’t rescue people from being dead, not even the gods themselves can change that.

The entire message about these stories is to accept loss and move on and accept that there will always be changing seasons and things changing weather you like it or not, which is the entire opposite of “reclaiming your past”. Heck, even Disney did a cartoon of it easy enough for even a lobster to understand.

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
1 year ago

@ Epitome, thanks! I haven’t been following Quebec politics at all and it’s great to get an insider’s view. I would so live in the Republic of Avocado Toast…

@Scanisaurus, what time of year does påskkärring take place?

@Scildfreja, absolutely. The venn diagramme of misogynists and racists/Islamophobes has such a striking overlap. 😣

Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy

The Republic of Avocado Toast OMG where do I sign up?

The hijab discussion here reminds me: so many people are having meltdowns over the NZ Prime Minister, reporters, and others donning hijabs in solidarity with the victims of the massacre. It’s been quite astonishing to witness how one garment provokes such a panic.
I did wonder if the reactions would be similar if male public figures wore men’s Muslim headgear e.g. the ghutra and egal. I imagine there would still be meltdowns, but to the same degree?

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
1 year ago

I want to vote the NZ Prime Minister to be Empress of Absolutely Everything. Her response has been outstanding.

Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy

@Bookworm in hijab,

Hasn’t she been wonderful? NZ offers such a valuable lesson in unity – but I’m afraid that here in Australia our government will not learn from it. Ardern’s response, and other things: the bikie gang turning up to the funerals, and offering to provide free security at mosques; high school students performing the haka in honour of the dead…

Scanisaurus
Scanisaurus
1 year ago

@Scanisaurus, what time of year does påskkärring take place?

It’s an Easter tradition, and going påskkärring takes place on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday/the day Jesus was crucified (it varies from year to year, but it’s between March 19 and April 22). It was believed that witches would gather at a place called Blåkulla for a witches sabbath at that Thursday, and it led to the current tradition of kids pretending to be witches asking for candy (usually chocolate eggs) for the journey there.

Sadly, this tradition looks like it’s being phased out by people celebrating Halloween instead, but of course the right-wing pundits complaining about “immigrants ruin ancient Nordic culture” ignore the anglo-saxon cultural imperialism, or worse, actively endorse it in order to reduce all “white” cultures to some kind of amorphous fantasy stereotype blend of vikings, knights and romans.

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
1 year ago

@Scanisaurus,

ignore the anglo-saxon cultural imperialism, or worse, actively endorse it in order to reduce all “white” cultures to some kind of amorphous fantasy stereotype blend of vikings, knights and romans.

The total lack of actual historical knowledge (combined with an insistence on made-up history) seems to be such a feature of the alt-right as well as the neo-Nazis. It’s that idealised past-golden-age thing. It worries me because it can seem convincing, to those of us (many or most?) whose awareness of history mostly comes from movies. Like evo-psych nonsense does for misogyny, their idealised pseudo-histories give a veneer of legitimacy and scholarship to some truly terrifying ideas.

Of course it shouldn’t matter how good your sense of history is since these attitudes are awful no matter their historical accuracy, but people fall for it. Ugh.

Hambeast
Hambeast
1 year ago

Epitome of incomprehensibility – I am very interested in your views on semicolons and would like to subscribe to your newsletter!

I studied up a bit about them after nearly getting banned from a blog due to my overuse of commas during the Great Comma Shortage of ’06. I was new to the internets and not aware, more’s the pity!

I still haven’t gotten a handle on my unfortunate parentheses addiction (another artifact of my former comma abuse, no doubt!)

Jurgan
Jurgan
1 year ago

comment image

Lumipuna (nee Arctic Ape)
Lumipuna (nee Arctic Ape)
1 year ago

Re, påskkärring in Sweden (and a roughly similar tradition in Finland, on Palm Sunday)

It sometimes happens that Muslim girls going round the doors use their regular clothing in lieu of witch costume – generally speaking it’s not exactly uncommon for lazy ass kids to go around in their regular clothes.

Anyway, some years ago a rightwing politician here in Finland had the gall to joke on social media about that. Something about the hijab being a ready made carnival costume. Generally, there’s seemingly always someone policing how the kids should “properly” perform their candy collection ritual.

epitome of incomprehensibility

No newsletter, sorry. 😉 But here is a comic I show my students sometimes! https://theoatmeal.com/comics/semicolon

Moon_custafer
Moon_custafer
1 year ago

@Hambeast, Epitome:

I think there used to be a legend among the staff of the New Yorker that an anonymous suicide note found on the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1970s or ‘80s, written by someone who used many semi-colons, had led worried investigators to check up on film critic Pauline Kael.

Scanisaurus
Scanisaurus
1 year ago

@Scanisaurus

You are right that you shouldn’t need in-depth historical knowledge to call out horrible views, yet all the same I see a lot of people’s denial in both the power of fiction and history, and especially historical fiction, as deeply disconcerting.

For example a woman I know, an highly educated archaeologist to boot, honestly thought that the scene in Mel Gibson’s The Patriot, where redcoats trap innocent villagers in a church and burn it down, was realistic and based on an actual event in the american revolution. When I pointed out to her that it wasn’t, she said “it’s just a movie” despite said movie making her believe that the redcoats had committed such warcrimes just before I pointed it out to her.

Another reason I really, really hate right-wing people (and even several people who aren’t right wing but take all their info from movies) try to paint the middle ages as a brutal time full of roving gangs of rapists roaming free and everyone just shrugging and accepting it as part of life like psychopaths is that I’ve seen exactly the same narrative propagated around Sweden among ignorant Americans who know even less about Sweden than what they do of the middle ages.

Also, another pop-culture misconception I think should be of interest to you is that when virtually all historical movies (the one exception being Girl with a Pearl Earring) depict women walking around with their hair out and loose like it’s no big deal, they are spreading a completely false image of history. With the exception of children and young unmarried women at festive occasions, ALL European Christian women had to tie up their hair and cover it with a headscarf or hat in public, and covering their hair was just as ubiquitous as in the Islamic world. If anyone tells you head coverings similar to hijabs aren’t compatible with European culture, remember that for hundreds of years, they were an integral part of it.

Scanisaurus
Scanisaurus
1 year ago

@Bookworm in hijab
Ugh, I accidentally made a big miss in my previous comment, but I meant to answer your previous comment and not myself.

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
1 year ago

@Scanisaurus

I agree with you so, so much about loose hair in medieval films.

As for the western veil, unfortunately, this book doesn’t seem to have been translated into English yet: https://www.materializedidentities.com/single-post/2017/03/05/Is-a-Veil-a-Veil-%E2%80%93-Maria-Giuseppina-Muzzarelli%E2%80%99s-A-Capo-Coperto

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
1 year ago

@ Scanisaurus, no worries, I got that it was directed at me! 😁 I knew that about European head-covering, and it does bug me that it’s been conveniently “forgotten” to serve modern political ideologies. I’d never be able to find it now, but I once came across a quiz-site that asked viewers to guess the religious and cultural origins of various forms of women’s headscarves; it was surprisingly difficult to guess correctly!

I agree about the power of fiction in shaping our knowledge (or our misunderstandings; “disconcerting” is definitely the word.) Like you, I’ve seen people argue for the most historically iffy perspectives based on something they watched in a movie. Haven’t seen that particular Mel Gibson one, but I would cite Braveheart as a prime example.

I wanted to ask what you meant by

I’ve seen exactly the same narrative propagated around Sweden among ignorant Americans who know even less about Sweden than what they do of the middle ages…full of roving gangs of rapists roaming free and everyone just shrugging and accepting it as part of life

. The only stereotypical narratives I’ve personally encountered about Sweden paint it as Hippie Land, the most eco-friendly of all places, and possessing the best school system in the universe; I’m more aware of attitudes in, and stereotypes about, French-speaking Europe.

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
1 year ago

@ Rabid Rabbit, I followed your link and I really want to read that book! I have some Italian-speaking friends who could maybe help me translate.

I’m currently reading Reina Lewis’ book “Muslim Fashion”, which deals with similar ideas in a 21st-century context.

https://books.google.ca/books/about/Muslim_Fashion.html?id=fLbCrQEACAAJ&source=kp_book_description&redir_esc=y

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
1 year ago

@Bookworm

Actually, you’re in luck: it’s been translated into French, under the title Histoire du voile.

Scanisaurus
Scanisaurus
1 year ago

@Bookworm in a hijab

The only stereotypical narratives I’ve personally encountered about Sweden paint it as Hippie Land, the most eco-friendly of all places, and possessing the best school system in the universe; I’m more aware of attitudes in, and stereotypes about, French-speaking Europe.

I’m glad that you haven’t heard the awful alt-right propaganda about Sweden, but I’ve seen a frighteningly large amount of alt-right people claim that, since Sweden has had generous immigration laws, the men in “brown horde” basically can’t resist the “sexy blonde Swedish women” and it’s the “rape capital of Europe”, but the “evil feminists” are covering it up and ignoring it for the sake of their evil pc agenda.

Sweden do have a high number of rape statistics, but the true reason for this is that the statistics are counted differently. For example, if a woman charges an abusive husband with having raped her multiple times, in many countries it would only count as one crime because there’s only one victim, but in the Swedish system, every rape that woman experienced would be counted as a separate crime, something all alt-right pundits omit.

And then it’s the old stereotype dating back to the 60’s, where Swedish women are basically painted as shameless bimbo sluts* that will readily get naked and have sex with any guy, thanks to a bunch of gross dirty men under the guise of being “auteurs” used the loosened censorship laws in Sweden as an excuse to put as much female nudity on the screen as possible, and foreign filmmakers jumped at making a bunch of sexploitation films starring blond swedes, and the stereotype stuck and gained popularity to the point you can still see tons of English-speaking movies using “Swedish women” as a comedic shorthand for “slutty blond porn stars”.

And neither are harmless stereotypes either, whilst the first one obviously feeds into the whole alt-right narrative, the second one is just as disgusting since several Swedish women travelling abroad have been sexually harassed and targeted with gross “jokes” thanks to it, plus it indirectly feeds into the other myth.

It’s just so frustrating that while people are finally starting to see that portraying native american and middle eastern women as half-naked bimbos throwing themselves at the Anglo-Saxon hero’s feet, portraying Swedish women that way just because they are Swedish is still seen as OK.

Whenever I hear someone say “Women from your country are so beautiful” I want to actively punch them, because they basically reduce the whole female population of an entire country to their own personal fetish fuel by that sentence.

*I really don’t want to shame women for being sexually active, when I’m using this word I use it in the context of women being portrayed as brainless creatures that only exists for the main man’s sexual gratification.

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
1 year ago

@ Scanisaurus,

I think I’ve led a really sheltered life! I hadn’t come across that (though I have of course heard the racist term “rapefugees”, just not in reference to Sweden specifically). Of course, there seem to be no limits on the depths to which the alt-right will sink, dive, and outright tunnel down in their efforts to be evil…

A lot of education literature (I’m a teacher) waxes breathlessly positive about Sweden’s school system, as well as Northern Europe’s generally, so that’s my usual frame of reference.

I think this

Whenever I hear someone say “Women from your country are so beautiful” I want to actively punch them, because they basically reduce the whole female population of an entire country to their own personal fetish fuel by that sentence.

is an entirely justifiable reaction! I do a big unit with my students where we talk about the media and stereotyping, and I try to hammer home the idea that so-called “positive” or flattering stereotypes are still HIGHLY problematic. If high school kids can grasp this concept, there’s no reason for adults to have trouble with it. Ugh.

@ Rabid Rabbit,
*goes to abebooks.com, credit card at the ready…*

Moon Custafer
Moon Custafer
1 year ago

@Rabid Rabbit:

I agree with you so, so much about loose hair in medieval films

Frock Flicks (which reviews the costumes in historical dramas) did a post once that posits a “Great Bobby-Pin Famine” from the late 1990s onward and that’s why so many movies with medieval/renaissance/18th and occasionally even 19th century settings have heroines who go about with their hair down and uncovered.

Scanisaurus
Scanisaurus
1 year ago

@Bookworm in a hijab

I do a big unit with my students where we talk about the media and stereotyping, and I try to hammer home the idea that so-called “positive” or flattering stereotypes are still HIGHLY problematic.

Yes, It’s scary how many adults seem to be genuinely ignorant that “positive” stereotypes can be just as harmful as negative ones, especially when by “positive” it means “only beautiful/strong/obedient/etcetera in order to serve my ego“.

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
1 year ago

@Moon Custafer:

Well, there went many more hours than I care to admit. Didn’t know that blog…

@Bookworm in Hijab:

Just in case this hasn’t come across your radar yet: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/mar/26/its-not-about-the-burqa-muslim-women-faith-feminism-sexuality-race-essays-mariam-khan-review