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Dr. Jordan Peterson's Hero Journey
A Journey not yet over.
In 2016 Doctor Jordan Peterson took on the Federal Government when he voiced his criticisms of Bill C-16 which would make Gender Identity and Expression into a protected characteristic against discrimination. The Professor argued that this was creating a doctrine of political correctness and compelled speech. Bill C-16 passed and Dr. Peterson rose to fame due to several factors including his opposition to the Bill.
The Call to Adventure
Jordan Peterson’s rise to fame has been interesting to say the least. He instructed at Harvard and did research into various areas. The Professor was no stranger to television, interviews, etc… prior to his rise to fame. He also wrote and published his first book called Maps of Meaning in 1999. He began filming and publishing his lectures on You Tube and was active on social media. One may consider that prior to 2016 Dr. Peterson was already accomplished, he had conducted a Hero’s Journey in his life venturing from the familiar to the unfamiliar and taking risks along the way before settling into Clinical practice and Instruction. However the call to adventure can happen several times.
After his rebuke of Bill C-16 in 2016 Peterson had a new call to adventure. There was a rising pushback against the creeping authoritarianism of leftist doctrine. As the gaze of the masses began to fall on Jordan the cultural battle that had been heating up since about 2014 took a turn. In 2017 the Evergreen College scandal broke the mold and the culture war boiled over. Jordan was seen to be a member of the intellectual dark web. The left had their cultural warriors and the Right was cultivating their own. Jordan’s persistent message, at least in my opinion, was that Leftist Governments and their supporters want to control what people say similar to totalitarian states and that we didn’t learn the lessons of history.
As his journey progressed into the challenge portion, the ideologues proved him right every step of the way. The disastrous (for his detractors) interview with Cathy Newman in 2018 only served to prove his point that he was being unfairly characterized, vilified and then attacked for the crimes of things like speaking to men and rejecting leftist doctrine. There were additional interviews that mis-characterized him after, however I note that the interviewers must have learnt some lessons since they did not have the same vitriol in the follow up interviews. Peterson’s demeanor did change in my opinion in later interviews where he was less patient, especially with the mainstream media types.
His Journey in my opinion reached its peak in 2019 when he debated Slavoj Zizek. He had released his book 12 Rules for Life a year prior and had begun working on his next book Beyond Order. He seemed to be unstoppable and it didn’t matter what the left did or said…in fact the more they complained and hated on him the more his popularity grew. It was a fever pitch. Behind the scenes though Peterson was contending with some personal issues that resulted in an increase of an anti-depressant. When he suffered side effects and attempted to reduce his dosage he experienced horrible withdrawal symptoms. He was about to enter the abyss of the Hero’s Journey.
In January of 2020 after North American doctors seemed unable or unwilling to help Jordan, his family made the move to Russia where he struggled and almost died having to be put into a medical coma for some time then put into intensive care for months. In the Summer of 2020 he made his first public appearance after a year of nothing. The Landscape that Jordan found himself in was radically different then a year ago. The pandemic had green lit the authoritarians who put the world on notice with little pushback in North America. The attack vector from the left had been honed to a sharp point. They attacked Jordan saying that he didn’t live up to his own standards. They mocked his method of treatment. He was accused of being a Russian asset. A picture of him looking pale with his room half packed was broadcast on all of his tweets. A relentless reminder and attempt to shame him into silence. The division created by the Pandemic and the vaccination program was also used to attack him. People said he had lost his edge.
When he did appear publically he appeared impatient and on some occasions would cry publically during his interviews. This perceived weakness was pounced on by leftist pundits. The mere mention of Jordan Peterson’s name was enough to drive people into a frenzy. Even Scott Adams in one of his Coffee Episodes had noted how badly people reacted to Jordan Peterson. A brush with death can lead someone to change their behavior and their approach. Whatever Jordan faced in the Abyss in Russia appeared in my opinion to hasten his resolve at the cost of patience. In other words the kids gloves were off. He began taking a much more direct approach to being critical with things he didn’t agree with, especially on twitter. One of my favorite tweets of his being his rebuke of an overweight swimsuit model famously claiming, “Sorry. Not beautiful. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that.”
In June of 2022 his point he brought up in 2016 about compelled speech and Transgender ideology was proven true. Upon criticizing Ellen Page for having her breasts removed Jordan was suspended from Twitter. Making fun of overweight models, COVID policy, New Zealand’s army of alt-right trolls, etc… were annoying but tolerable. He had struck the woke right at the heart of their Religion, Gender ideology and queer theory. This was a step too far. A condition for the re-instatement of his account would be that he would have to click that he agreed the Tweet was wrong and delete it. He refused to the delight of his detractors who claimed victory.
In the same month that Jordan was suspended from Twitter he would sign a landmark deal with Conservative Media site The Daily Wire. Solidifying his position in the Cultural War. Jordan continued his tour and lectures as well as adding additional content for The Daily Wire. In November of 2022 his Twitter Account was re-instated by Elon Musk who had purchased the Social Media platform. Immediately Jordan began tweeting again. He got himself almost immediately involved in controversy when he recommended that anonymous accounts not be allowed on the platform causing much detraction from his own followers and even those who didn’t follow him (although they were always going to complain regardless). The thing about controversy is that it drives clicks and views. The responding Substack articles, You Tube videos, etc… from it solidified that the Doctor was back, weather you liked it or not.
The newest attack vector against the Doctor may be the most insidious one yet. One could claim that authoritarian speech control from a private company that you opt in to participate in is defensible because it’s a private company and the owners can set whatever rules they like. If you don’t like it go start your own company. However this newest attack is coming from a Government enforced mechanism. The Ontario College of Psychologists has decided to take a run at the Good Doctor. The OCP is the regulatory body for Psychologists. They have determined that Jordan has violated their policies on speech and their sanction is a 1984 O’Brian style Struggle Session (At Peterson’s own cost) on media use. These allegations have nothing to do with his practice as a Clinician. Peterson himself has not seen clients in years but maintains his certification. These allegations were not made by clients, former clients or anyone that would fall under his care as a Clinician. So why would he care if he maintains a license? I can only speculate but it is probably a matter of pride. It makes attacks against him more difficult when he is accredited and licensed. He also is fighting back on a matter of principle, license be damned.
The terrifying part of this is the number of fellow Clinicians attacking him over his opposition. The behavior of the OCP is draconian but it isn’t new. Policies around the private usage of social media by people have grown stricter and stricter over the years. In many private and public sector jobs now voicing an opinion that runs contrary to the Cultural message is a recipe for being fired. Employees are deemed to be quasi “on the clock” while not at work in regards to their personal views and conduct.
Many companies would rather just let someone go then be courageous and morally responsible. They’ve been bullied by the mob. The latest one that has drawn attention is Limited Run Games firing an employee based on who they follow on Social Media. In a case from 2020 I interviewed former Saskatchewan Party candidate Daryl Cooper who was let go from running with the Saskatchewan Party because a few people complained about his retweets and follows on Social Media.
What is shocking to me is that Clinicians would defend the OCP knowing that means that their speech is being curtailed. This is the exact thing that Peterson warned us about in 2016. Peterson is being compelled by a Government body to behave a certain way that has nothing to do with his license. People called Peterson paranoid for years. Well apparently just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. Yet these clinicians who are more then happy to pile on, scum suckers that they are, are only furthering the authoritarian agenda. They are validating their own speech limitations. What was nice to see is that some people who haven’t been the biggest fans of Peterson are recognizing that this is wrong and that today they come for you and tomorrow it’s them.
Peterson has sworn that he will fight this and should he be forced to comply if the Court remedy is unsuccessful that he will film the struggle sessions for the world to see. This man has 3 million followers on Twitter. He’s used Social Media for years, he should be running the damned course on how to manage a Social Media account. Since he made all of the paperwork published he has doubled down on his commitment to speech making more and more tweets doubling down on his beliefs.
The Journey Continues
Jordan’s call to adventure is not over. His arc is not completed nor is it written in stone. He continues to provide valuable insight and guidance in the culture war. I don’t always agree with everything he says or does but I do see the immense value in what he is providing to society. We live in interesting times and Jordan’s case will prove to be a cultural litmus test for free speech in Canada that will have a ripple effect. My hope is that he wins the case and opens a case for others to challenge their employer monitoring employee’s beliefs and political leanings outside of the workplace and outside of their professional capacity.
I look forward to seeing Doctor Peterson in Saskatoon in February and I will get a chance to speak with him personally backstage and then watch his lecture front and center.
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