Jordan Peterson, “controversial” clinical psychologist
A recent interview of Jordan B Peterson, a clinical psychologist on Channel 4 news by British Journalist Cathy Newman went viral, mainly because the combative professor was able to leave the visibly agitated Journalist speechless with his responses.
The Interview reminded me of conversations I’ve has over the years where “liberals” much like Ms.Newman, jumped to conclusions about my views and politics. Every person on the right wing can attest to how they have been stereotyped one way or another. Many people on the right do not speak out because of the fear of ostracization and hostility. This is an extremely unhealthy trend, one that will skew our political discourse. We saw an excellent example of this in the 2016 US Presidential Election, when the “silent majority” pushed him to a win. A poll as recent in October 2017 found that nearly 4 out of 10 voters agree with Trump’s policies, but do not publicly reveal their support. This speaks volumes of the fear that people experience due to their political views.
A pro-republican cartoon on democrats opposing Sarah Palin in ’08.
What pushes them to not air their views in a public forum? Take the Peterson interview I mentioned earlier. In it, Mr. Peterson asked is whether he thinks gender is a myth. This exchange follows:
“Peterson: I don’t know what you mean by the question. Men and Women aren’t the same. And they won’t be the same. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be treated fairly. Newman: Is Gender Equality desirable? P: If it means equality of outcomes, then almost certainly its undesirable. That’s already been demonstrated in Scandinavia. Because in Scandinavia… N (Interrupting) : What do you mean by that? ‘Equality of outcome is undesirable’? P: Well, men and women won’t sort themselves into the same categories if you leave them along to do of their own accord. We’ve already seen that in Scandinavia. It’s 20:1 N :So.. P: .. female nurses to male nurses, something like that, it might not be quite that extreme and approximately,the same male engineers to female engineers and that’s a consequence of the free choice of men and women in the societies that have gone further than any other societies to make gender equality the purpose of the law those are ineradicable differences that you can eradicate with tremendous social pressure, and tyranny. But if you leave men and women it make their own choices, you will not get equal outcomes Newman: Right, so you’re saying that anyone who believes in equality whether you call them feminist call them them, should basically give up, cause it ain’t gonna happen P: Only if they are aiming at equality of outcome. N: So you’re saying give people equality of opportunity, that’s fine. P: Not only fine, it’s eminently desirable for everyone, for individuals and for societies. N: But still women aren’t gone to make it, that’s what you’re really saying? P: It depends on your measurement techniques. They’re doing just fine in medicine. In fact there are for more female physicians than male physicians. There are lots of disciplines that are absolutely dominated by women, many many disciplines and they’re doing great . So.. N: Let me put something else to you from the book you say :’the introduction of the equal pay for equal work argument immediately complicates even salary comparison beyond practicality for one simple reason, who decides what work is equal , its not possible’. So the simple question is, do you believe in equal pay? P: Well I made the argument there. It depends on.. N: So you don’t believe in equal pay? P(Laughing): No, I’m not saying that at all N: Because a lot of people listening to you would just say , I mean are we going back to the dark ages? P: That because they are actually not listening. N: I’m listening very carefully, and I’m hearing you basically saying women need to just accept that they’re never going to make it on [the] equal terms, equal outcomes is how you defined it. P: No I didn’t say that N: If I was a young woman watching that, I would go ‘woah’ I might as well go and play with my Cindy dolls I should give up trying at school cause I’m not gone get the top job i want, because there’s someone’s sitting there saying its not possible its undesirable, its miserable…. P: … that’s what I said it’s a bad social call, I didn’t say that women shouldn’t be striving for the top or anything like that, cause I don’t believe that for a second.. N: Striving for the top but your going to put all those hurdles in their way, as has been in there for centuries, P: (Interrupting):No (laughing) N: Thats fine you say, that it’s fine P: No No, I think, I really think (interrupted) N: The patriarchal system is just fine P: I think it’s silly. I do. I think it’s silly. I really do. I mean Look at your situation, you’re hardly unsuccessful N: Yeah and I’ve battled quite hard to get here. P: Exactly! That’s good for you.”
Prof.Peterson attempts to make a perfectly reasonable, nuanced argument, Ms. Newman however, ignores what she’s hearing in order to conform him to the stereotype of a misogynist. This is because Ms. Newman is behaving as an ideologue and not an objective inquisitor of truth, which is arguably her job as a journalist.
This is not the first example of a “liberal” journalist attempting to box a perceived “conservative” into a box, without comprehending or evaluating the arguments that they are presented with objectively.
Because we don’t like to be wrong. Whenever we are presented with facts or opinion that goes against or refutes our beliefs we tend to ignore it. We tend to ignore reason, nuance and rationality when it offends our beliefs. It’s called confirmation bias. This all well and good, since that is explained by human psychology. What is alarming, in my opinion, is the pressure that many non-liberals experience in liberal dominated environments to conform to the opinion of the majority. The culture of “political correctness”, as many in the US describe it, has already penetrated the Indian Liberosphere. Many in the Indian right know the archetype as the “Adarsh Liberal” meme. They obfuscate, mischaracterize and misrepresent the views of their ideological opponents. They claim to be the paragons of liberalism, but their conduct bears out their hypocrisy.
They are the first to call out for the accommodation of Rohingya refugees, but forget our own Kashmiri Pandits. They create campaigns against “intolerance”, “Lynch mobs” and so on based purely on their fictitious narratives, for political goals. They are more than willing to twist history and facts for their own benefit. They will beat down and isolate those who do not agree to their views.
Let me stop myself here. You may assume that I am generalizing liberal behaviour here. But I do not hold that all liberals are of the variety described above, but my own experience and that of many others like me bear out the same.
The Left Liberals of our country has monopolized our academia, media and entertainment industries and more. They are the establishment. Taking a stand against their politics can result in ostracization and vilification, as Vikram Sampath can attest. The Right Wing is composed of the rebels, who in many cases are risking their social and professional lives by coming out in the open. They are in the truest sense, dissidents to the establishment, not Kanhiya Kumar and Umar Khalid, who have been lapped up by the opinion pages and studio lights.
All these statements that I have made against the left and their intolerance does not mean that there does not exist a similar problem with the right. There does exist a similar problem within the right wing, but this bias is limited by the fact that the right has little to no place in our discourse. Regardless, the inability to listen is an unhealthy trend for a democracy, because it means that we are closing out opinions and facts that we do not like. We, as citizens will not make informed decisions on our future because of our inability to listen, to ponder and to comprehend the arguments of ideological opponents.
It is better for all of us that we listen.