Jordan Peterson Wikipedia

Editorial: Catholics beware

  • January 25, 2024

Jordan Peterson put a target on his own back several years ago by speaking clearly and simply against mandated use of “gendered” pronouns and proper names. More recently, his critics have mocked him mercilessly as a cartoonish poster boy for the conservative “anger-tainment” industry.

Peterson has done himself no favours by adopting a speaking and prose style that chops up verbs, nouns and adjectives aplenty, then runs them through a high speed metaphor mixer. Where once the eminent former U of T psychologist communicated eruditely with cleaving logic, now it’s often impossible to tell what’s going on amid the swirling vortex of his verbiage.

Yet even his die hard detractors would do well to pick their way mindfully through the rhetorical minefield of his most recent National Post column. In it, Peterson vows to fight on despite losing a second legal appeal against the Ontario College of Psychologists. It ordered he submit, because of certain social media posts, to mandatory sensitivity training or lose his professional accreditation. A single paragraph of the column is worth absorbing for the truth it tells.

“The failure of my (legal) appeal means that… professionals — engineers, physicians, lawyers and teachers, among others — are now required by administrative fiat to conceal what they really think and believe (which is precisely the truth you most truly need from them) lest they run afoul of the administrative minions who have now been granted full sway over their tongues and pens,” Peterson writes.

An understandable reflex is to dismiss those words as the hyperbole of a self-justifying sore loser. Doing so, however, overlooks what Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger calls the “long march of intellectual corruption through the institutions” playing out across North America. The corruption isn’t a matter of disagreement over core ideas. It’s about regulatory bodies turning their mandates for ethical oversight into a means of punitive ideological control.

If we as Catholics fail to see that as a threat to us as Catholics, we need to open wide our eyes and look around. Not a full three years ago, after all, the doors of our churches were slammed shut by what Peterson calls “administrative fiat” during the COVID pandemic. Being good citizens, we largely complied. We followed orders based on the mantra to “follow the science.”

Yet hard and fast “follow the science” is itself suddenly Gumby flexible when Peterson’s “administrative minions” choose to follow ideology instead. And the cost is substantial — as Montreal’s Dr. Raymond Brière discovered when he was suspended from practicing medicine for three months because he informed a female patient that science proves she is not a man. Dr. Brière was approached by a patient who said she had been “living socially” as a man for an extended time and wanted to make her social status biological. The doctor advised he could not participate in such a disservice to science, which says that her chromosomes are, and will always be, irrevocably female. The patient surreptitiously recorded his refusal, filed a complaint and let loose the hounds of administrative hell on earth.

At a purely practical level, Dr. Brière’s suspension after 40 years of medical practice is lunacy in a province where it can take 10 years to find a family doctor, and emergency wards operated at 147-per-cent to 200-per-cent overcapacity this past Christmas. Even worse, as Jordan Peterson argues, is its chilling example of forcing “professionals to conceal what they really think and believe” even when their thinking and believing is based on simply following the science.

To think and believe that such extensions of control don’t and won’t affect us as Catholics flies in the face of our COVID experience, and requires nitrous oxide optimism about future iterations of that dark time for the Church.

For all his faults and flaws, Jordan Peterson has for a second time sounded a clear and simple warning that we would do well to reflect on for guidance.

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