Gender neutral pronouns

Professor Jordan Peterson writes in the Toronto Sun:

In early October, I recorded a set of three videos about and posted them on my YouTube channel, Jordan Peterson Videos.

The first of these decried the latest legislative moves to make “gender identity” and “gender expression” protected categories under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

This set off a firestorm online and in the traditional media, particularly after a free-speech rally, organized by students, met with counter-protesters who tried to shut it down with white noise, chanted cries of “shame” and, finally, assault and deceit.

Perhaps three million people have watched the cellphone videos of these events online.

Generation Snowflake seems unable to handle a professor who defends free speech.

I noted in the videos that the policy statements surrounding similar laws already in place in Ontario and several other provinces were dangerously vague and ill-formulated. I also indicated my refusal to apply what have become known as “preferred” pronouns to people who do not fit easily into traditional gender categories (although I am willing to call someone “he” or “she” in accordance with their manner of self-presentation).

So this isn’t about refusing to call someone by the gender pronoun they prefer, just that he won’t use gender neutral pronouns such as “zhe”. And for this he has been demonised.

I also objected to the requirement that I mouth words that have been produced by those pushing an ideology with which I strenuously and deeply disagree. I regard artificially formulated words such as the so-called “gender neutral” pronouns as part of the vanguard of a wave of political correctness which has historical roots that disturb me (the association with Marxism) and psychological motivations that I do not trust (based as they are on an excess of care best devoted to infants and grounded in an intense resentment of anyone who has become successful for any reason whatsoever).

Not unreasonable.

On Oct. 3, the University of Toronto sent me a letter warning me about the potential illegality of my actions, and reminding me of my obligations to students as detailed in its own recent equity-based policies.

On Oct. 18, U of T sent me another letter requesting that I stop talking about such things.

Another university that can’t handle free speech.

Civilized people present themselves in a manner that makes dealing with them simple. This is because each of us is only one person — but one person surrounded by a multitude of others. It is impossible for us to interact with that multitude, even one-on-one, without conventions that make each of us more straightforward than we are.

If I am interacting with a bank teller, for example, I do not want to know about his or her sexual proclivities, medical problems, financial issues, and past traumas. To do her job, she has to dress in a relatively innocuous manner, and present herself in way that enables particularized, efficient and relatively shallow interactions. That’s how society functions.

I might ask her, “How’s your day?” Depending on the genuineness of my request, she might share a bit of personal information. But there are strict implicit limits on how far she can (and should) go in revealing the person behind the persona.

It is simply not reasonable for a stranger — say, a student in one of my classes — to request that I learn, speak and remember a whole set of personal descriptors as a precondition for our interactions. It is certainly not reasonable to demand that I do so — and it is absolutely unreasonable for that demand to have been given the force of law. You don’t get to exercise control over my speech.

But they want to.

The demand for use of preferred pronouns is not an issue of equality, inclusion or respect for others. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a purposeful assault on the structure of language. It’s a dangerous incursion into the domain of free speech. It’s narcissistic self-centeredness. It’s part and parcel of the PC madness that threatens to engulf our culture.

A line must be drawn somewhere, and this is a good place to draw it. We should, further, abolish the Ontario Human Rights Commission and its enforcement wing, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. We should reject Bill C-16, and we should repeal its sister legislation in those provinces where it has already been instantiated.

We should refuse, in no uncertain terms, the demands by the ideologically possessed that we speak their special language. Or we should await the consequences, and they won’t be pretty.

Very brave of him.

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