Dr. McWhorter Vs Dr. Peterson

Posted in Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on July 3, 2018

“Jordan Peterson Questioned By Linguist John McWhorter on Pronoun Stance” is the video that started it all. Dr. Jordan Bernt Peterson, aka “The stupid person’s smart person,” was appearing at the Aspen Ideas Festival. During the Q&A, he was queried by Dr. John Hamilton McWhorter V, who is one of “the Black guys on Bloggingheaads TV”. The moderator was Bari Weiss, the namer of the Intellectual Dark Web. PG posted the video link to a *radical community* facebook page, with the note “This is a thoughtful conversation about gender and pronouns.” Some were not amused.

In the video, JHM asks JBP “I teach trans students. And I’m asked often to call people singularly they. It started probably about four years ago. It struck me as very odd. I’m 52. And some of them you can tell that it’s coming from a very deep place. That’s how they feel, and they deeply need to be called they. Some of them, my horse sense says, that they’re kind of enjoying giving me a certain shock, and there’s a certain theatrical element. That’s my horse sense … my general feeling has been that whatever they ask I just go with it, and let’s change the usage of the pronouns because we have a lot to do. … You said that how you make the difference in deciding these cases is that you have psychological training, and you can tell. What I want to know is, for my own elucidation and also because many of us wondered but then it kind of went by: How do you know?”

JBP replied. “Well, first of all I wouldn’t know … I would be willing to do that despite the fact that I might be wrong. Having said that, in any reasonable situation I would err on the side of addressing the person in the manner in which they want to be addressed. But that’s not the issue for me. The issue is that now I’m compelled by law to do so. It’s like: No, not doing it. Not now, because it’s compelled by law, so that’s the end of the game so far as I’m concerned. There’s no excuse for compelling it by law. I don’t think it was an isolated legislative move. I think it was part and parcel of a whole series of legislative moves that have been made. I think it’s an attempt by a certain radical ideology to get the linguistic upper hand, which I think is a terrible thing to do…. ”

Bill C-16 was a proposal in the Canadien Parliament. It would, essentially, extend Civil Rights protection to Gender Identity issues. The bill was passed by Parliament, and is now law. JBP gained some fame, and notoriety, with his opposition to C16.

One issue in this video is whether, or not, the use of non-preferred pronouns is against the law. According to Brenda Cossman, a professor of law at the University of Toronto, Peterson is “fundamentally mischaracterizing” Bill C-16. “I don’t know if he’s misunderstanding it, but he’s mischaracterizing it,” Cossman says. … Cossman says it seems Peterson is trying to argue that the misuse of pronouns could constitute hate speech. “I don’t think there’s any legal expert that would say that [this] would meet the threshold for hate speech in Canada,” she says. Our courts have a very high threshold for what kind of comments actually constitutes hate speech, and the nature of speech would have to be much more extreme than simply pronoun misuse, according to Cossman.”

During the Facebook conversation, PG made this comment: ” I agree with Dr. McWhorter that, as a matter of respect, you should call someone by their preferred pronoun. I may have doubts about their sincerity, but I will call them what they want to be called. … I am not familiar with the C-16 struggle. Apparently, there was some Canadien legislation regarding these issues. While I don’t have a problem calling someone they, I really don’t see this as an appropriate issue for legal action. That may not be what the proposed law said, and I don’t want to research it now. However, if C-16 mandated singular they, then I would agree with Dr. Peterson…. which might be the only time I ever agree with him.” Now it appears that this notion … that the law requires the use of singular they … is a creation of JBP’s overheated imagination.

The video linked above does not include a section of the discussion preceding the question by JHM. This exchange changes the character of the conversation between JBP and JHM. PG did not know about this previous exchange when he posted his ill fated comment on facebook. Here is the exchange, between BW and JBP.

BW: “You are often characterized, at least in the mainstream press, as being transphobic. If you had a student come to you and say, I was born female, I now identify as male, I want you to call me by male pronouns. Would you say yes to that?” JBP: “Well, it would depend on the student and the context and why I thought they were asking me and what I believe their demand actually characterized, and all of that. Because that can be done in a way that is genuine and acceptable, and a way that is manipulative and unacceptable. And if it was genuine and acceptable then I would have no problem with it. And if it was manipulative and unacceptable then not a chance.”

JBP said one thing first…. that he would call a student *they* if it was “genuine and acceptable.” After the questions by JHM, the focus became whether, or not, the law was requiring the usage of non-binary pronouns. This is not the first time that JBP has been too slick for his own good.

Was the question by JHM sincere, or was he trolling JBP? JHM was clearly playing with JBP. “Are you saying that psychological theory has nothing to teach us about this? Because you’re talking around my question. You’re gorgeously articulate. You’re smarter than me. Does psychology have anything to teach us or not? Yes or no?

It is tough to say. It may have been a combination of sincerity and rhetoric. Whatever the motivation there, the question struck a nerve with PG. It is easier to just be careful, use the preferred pronouns, and keep your concerns to yourself. Trans issues are a part of modern life. You don’t have to understand everything.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. The quotes are from a transcript published in this artice, Jordan Peterson Comes to Aspen.

2 Responses

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  1. […] features a Dr. P triple feature. The posts are Jordan Peterson, Prager University AKA PU, and Dr. McWhorter Vs Dr. Peterson. Pictures, as noted elsewhere, are from The Library of Congress. Jordan Bernt Peterson has become […]

  2. […] exist… the sadness.” Dennis Prager is another snark-worthy public figure. The other video is about an appearance Dr. Peterson made in Aspen, hosted by Bari Weiss. John McWhorter asks a […]

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