Friday, November 04, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: Crossing Jordan

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Coming soon in your size and mine
Those of our readers who don’t live in Canada — which will be most of you — may be unfamiliar with the current plight of University of Toronto professor Jordan B. Peterson. Professor Peterson is under the gun — protested by students and censured by his own administration — for refusing to address his students with gender neutral fake pronouns like “zhe”.

Tom: U of T trans studies instructor Nicholas Matte has called on Peterson to “stop abusing students”. But the threat of having to appear before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal doesn’t seem to bother Professor Peterson. He’s drawn a line in the sand: “If they fine me, I won’t pay it. If they put me in jail, I’ll go on a hunger strike. I’m not doing this, and that’s that. I’m not using the words that other people require me to use. Especially if they’re made up by radical left-wing ideologues.”

A tempest in a teapot, Immanuel Can? Or something more serious?

The Lightning Rod

Immanuel Can: Oh no, I think this is something very serious … a “lightning rod”, as it were, for the controversy between the extreme, radical Left and centrism in general — liberal-conservatism, academic freedom, speech rights, nationalism, religion, science, normal sexuality, and both equality and truthfulness as they have been classically understood. Unless I miss my guess, this will prove a decisive public moment.

Tom: I tend to agree. I watched a few minutes of Lauren Southern from Rebel Media interviewing students at the protests on the U of T campus, and they’re completely bonkers. You can’t have a sane discussion with the kids who are protesting. They are foaming at the mouth.

Do we agree that the pressure on Peterson is primarily student-driven? I believe the university administration is simply responding to what they think the majority of their students want, which seems backwards to me.

Mendacious, Manipulative and Ideologically-Motivated

IC: No, I’m not so sure. I agree that many students will be radicalized and the more overt demonstrations will show them pushing this, but look at the response from the university hierarchy and you see that they are clearly being supported by the mendacious, manipulative and ideologically-motivated sorts of professors and administrators. This stuff is IN the university, not just brought to it by the kids: I’ve seen that myself.

Tom: I’ll take your word for it. What was very evident from the Southern interviews was that even the students who clearly thought this was crazy nonsense wouldn’t dare admit it on camera. The reporter was nearly chased off campus for simply questioning the PC narrative.

IC: Yes. Well, when I did my undergrad work, universities were hives of all sorts of opinions. Free speech rights were at the peak, and pretty much anything could be said for the sake of a debate. In fact, universities regularly sponsored point-counting, reason-based debates, which were usually conducted with politeness and rational intensity. But by the time I was doing my graduate work, some two decades later, things had changed very profoundly. The extreme Left was clearly in the driver’s seat among academics and students alike, and conservative opinions were frowned upon. Lately, those who dare to state them are openly subjected to hatred, slander and abuse … all with the university’s approval.

Lines in the Sand

Tom: I’m torn about the issue myself. So far as I know, Jordan Peterson is no Christian; just a principled guy who seems to be grounded in reality and is defending what he perceives to be his right to speak honestly about gender. Is this a hill to die on for the Christian, do you think? Because it may be a very expensive line to draw in the sand, given the way the Canadian Human Rights Tribunals work.

IC: I think this isn’t our “hill”, it’s true. But I think our hill is next to it. Freedom of conscience is a primary right, and freedom of speech is close to it.

Did you catch that Dr. Peterson has researched what sort of psychological profile makes a person inclined to be a member of the “politically-correct” group? I found that really, really interesting.

Tom: Was that the statistical analysis? I saw an interview with him that went into his research in some detail, yes. Did you want to synopsize that?

IC: In a nutshell, the research shows that there are essentially two psychological “politically-correct” warrior types: the PC radical and the PC equality-lover. But the radicals are often quite low on the intelligence and verbal scales, whereas the equality-lovers tend to be higher. This explains why the latter tend to become the leaders, and the former the followers.

Tom: Interesting.

From Empathy to Insanity

IC: Still, both groups have certain qualities in common, such as a high level of instinctive empathy with perceived pain. Another marked feature they had in common was significant exposure to “social justice” ideology. They also tend to have an exaggerated estimation of the importance of emotions, and a tendency to dismiss awkward things like reasons and logic. Even more interestingly, both groups have a markedly over-mothering approach to others. Two final significant features: an authoritarian intolerance for uncertainty or ambiguity, and secondly, a previous clinical diagnosis of a mood or anxiety disorder; not just “feeling bad”, but being actually formally identified that way.

Tom: It’s an interesting insight into what might be driving this sort of behavior.

IC: Well, and the over-mothering thing … I’d love to ask him if there were a correlation between the rise of things like single-mothers or absent / negligent / abusive fathers (to say nothing of so-called “double-mother” families). The possibility that it’s a manifestation of some sort of out-of whack mothering impulse is fascinating; how many of the children today are primarily being raised by indulgent mothers? And there’s definitely a lot that’s childish, petulant, emotional, reactionary and impulsive about the whole movement — and not much rational or logical ...

But the data isn’t available on that yet, so it’s just one possible hypothesis at the moment.

Tom: Given the level of influence the social justice crowd is currently displaying, a deeper study might be worth the investment. At least one of these points has been noted by other writers about this phenomenon, and that’s the fact that a significant percentage of politically correct obsessives are dependent on antidepressants. That might make for an interesting study too.

Targets for Pathologies

But to get practical for a moment, whatever the motivation, and whatever mitigating factors may exist, the fact is that a very small percentage of the population has become extraordinarily successful at bullying a much larger percentage into getting behind ideas like gender fluidity that have absolutely no factual basis, no legitimate support in even the secular scientific community and — more importantly, where Christians are concerned — are absolutely offensive to God. It’s like letting your kindergartner drive the family car.

The fact is, Christians make some of the best targets for people with these sorts of pathologies, and for the tag-alongs they influence. We’re not the only targets, but we’re certainly the obvious ones. Got any advice, other than “Keep your head low” or “Don’t rub them the wrong way”?

IC: Yes. As the scriptures say, “The fear of man lays a snare”. That group will try to intimidate Christians into pretending to agree with their values, or at least not standing against them. And their anger and spite will be a considerable incentive to compromise truth or deny what we believe. Don’t do it. Fight them. I don’t mean pick a fight, of course; but don’t bend for even a second to their assumptions, their propaganda or their tactics. Stand for truth, and teach your kids truth, no matter what is considered “politically correct”. And do what you can to live a quiet life in all dignity and godliness.

However, stop short of ever even seeming to agree with them. State your case with gentleness and reverence, but no compromise.

What would you suggest, Tom?

NEVER Apologize

Tom: The best advice I’ve ever heard about dealing with the PC police is never, EVER apologize, no matter what.

Now, of course, if you’re actually guilty of doing something biblically wrong, that’s not the way to go: the Christian thing to do is take your lumps, whatever the cost. But the most people like Dr. Peterson are “guilty” of is refusing to kowtow to some bizarre new social “rule” that’s usually not even legally enforceable. If you know you’re not really a racist, sexist homo/transphobe, don’t admit to being one.

These folks have a tendency to swarm, as we’ve seen in the protest videos at U of T. They also point and screech a lot. It can be terribly intimidating. Some Christians have a tendency to want to accommodate angry people, and might be persuaded to offer a general sort of semi-apology in case they have inadvertently hurt some feelings by what they have said or done. That is always a bad move. To the social justice crowd, an apology is never the end; it’s just evidence of guilt to be used against you in a situation where, normally, an objective third party might see nothing wrong. You’re actually helping them make their case if you apologize, and it won’t relieve the pressure.

By standing up to his students and the administration at U of T, Dr. Peterson is actually doing the best possible thing for himself and everybody else.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You

IC: Yes, I agree: it is good that this has come to a head at this point, and in a sort of non-religious way — at the moment, it’s just about secular free speech. But I think it’s “coming soon to a theatre near you”.

Anything else, Tom?

Tom: Just this: For the PC crowd, it’s not about which particular delusion they want us to indulge today. It’s about power; about making society bow down to their false god of Self. There will, no doubt, be Christians who are convinced that patronizing the mentally ill about their gender fictions is an act of kindness, but it is not. “Love,” the apostle Paul says, “rejoices with the truth”. And gender fluidity is not the endgame; don’t think that for a second. If they can get our culture, especially Christians, to swallow that whopper, expect the next lie we are asked to swallow to be twice the size.

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