The Pronoun Polemic

When I created the Twilight Zone/Social Justice video mashup, I included a clip at the end of a SJW violently attacking a woman holding the camera and, then, another SJW lying to police that “nothing had happened.” (It turns out that the lying SJW – nicknamed “Smugglypuff” – was later arrested for assault, theft, and destruction of property).

What I didn’t understand at the time was that the incident occurred at the very same protest that Professor Jordan B. Peterson, a tenured professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, was being excoriated on his views about free speech.

For those who are – like me – fond of holding onto civil liberties and take Freedom of Speech seriously, it is often disappointing to see profound and organized attempts to eradicate the concept.

In Canada, apparently, there is a proposal called Bill C-16 (“An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code“). The “extension” in question includes forcing people to used gender-neutral “preferred pronouns”, or else face the criminal consequences of hate speech.

Dr. Peterson had issue with this and, as a result, found himself at the business end of quite the hissy fit:

The above video is painful to watch, but illustrates the difficulty in having a calm, rational conversation with those who advocate Social Justice. When you couple this with the inevitable violence that seems to crop up – as evidenced by the “Smugglypuff” video – you can’t help but begin to wonder if it will even be possible to have a decent conversation at all.

As it turns out, the answer is likely, “not for very long.”

Reaching Criminal Mass

Dr. Peterson was invited to stand trial be interviewed on a Canadian public affairs program about his views. Among the guests were a “Gender Studies” professor, a transsexual author, a transsexual youtube personality, and a law professor who represented the promotion of the C-16 bill.

I did not want to watch this program. It’s an hour long, and I did not want to watch this poor man be eviscerated by unreasonable harassment. However, I did, and I’m glad I did, because it led me out of Plato’s Cave.

What I saw horrified me.

The issues that Dr. Peterson is facing go far, far beyond this one-off incident. They even go far beyond the C-16 Bill. At the risk of sounding like over-the-top paranoia, this is the very form of tyranny that George Orwell warned us about.

This is not science fiction. What they are talking about is actually criminalizing people for not saying what the government wants them to say. (If you don’t want to watch the whole thing right now, I do separate out clips that are relevant below.)

Pronouns and Newspeak

It’s almost difficult to know where to begin. In true Social Justice fashion, Dr. Peterson is demonized to the highest order. By not capitulating to the demands of others, by refusing to be forced to use the “controlled language created by the totalitarian state to limit freedom of thought,” and entertain “concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality,” he engages in a “a form of thought alternative to the party’s construct classified as ‘thoughtcrime.”

That is, Newspeak.

They simply cannot do this without first eradicating the very existence of established terms. After all, if you wish for people to use your terms in lieu of their preferred ones, you must simply prevent the “wrong” terms from being used in the first place. As long as they remain in place, there is no way to be able to combat them.

Nicolas Matte, Lecturer of Transgender Studies at the University of Toronto, does this immediately. His very first words are, “Basically, it is not correct that there is such a thing as biological sex.”

Oh, how you will hate him by the end of this blog.

Wow.

He blithely skips over even attempting to explain how he can make such a statement “in the interest of time,” but it is such a fundamental premise of everything that follows the audience simply needs to accept it as fact. He claims his expertise is as a “historian of medicine,” and so, um, Q.E.D.

He goes on to explain that he teaches students in his classes that he looks at “actual” research about how “identifying ways that current social issues related to trans people – such as the free speech arguments and claims – and how that connects to how people are thinking and research is framed.”

I’ve read that sentence seven ways from Sunday, and I honestly don’t know what that means. If you break it down without the prepositional phrases, he’s saying that he “identifies ways that social issues connect to how people are thinking.”

You have got to be kidding me.

But, his negation of terms must continue. It’s simply not possible to engage in a conversation with him by any standard means, because he rejects your reality completely:

It’s critical to understand why this is necessary.

The Dependency on Meta-Communication

As I mentioned before in great detail, advocates of Social Justice don’t just rely upon metacommunication to fight their battles, they depend on it. There is simply no other possible way for them to win.

The pronoun battleground is pivotal for a number of reasons. Pronouns, by definition, are not the “thing” (that’s a “noun”), but rather they are referring to a “thing.” That is, pronouns are metacommunication.

You have 30 seconds to memorize this list or you are transphobic. Go!

You have 30 seconds to memorize this list or you are transphobic. Go!

The actual pronoun usage does not matter. That is to say, the communication does not matter – it’s only the fact that you are willing to use the pronoun that matters. People are not expected to memorize “29 different genders and their pronouns” – because of the fact that they are imaginary words (for the most part), the list will increase ad infinitum.

Less than .3% of the population of the United States identifies as transgender. With 29 pronouns (excluding the usual “he and she”), you’re talking about a pronoun that – on average – might represent .009% of the population. There is no way in Hell it will be possible to adequately prepare for the ultra-low percentage of people that you could meet and adhere to some arbitrary pronoun policy. But, then again, that’s just the point.

Look, with so many pronouns to keep track of, the list is itself worthy of ridicule, which people will do. Eventually, it will come to the point in time where today’s advocates for a term (say, just to pick one above, “xyr”) will find that it is being used in a manner that is “disrespectful” and therefore its usage should cease. In its place will be another 29 terms. I’ve seen videos from “non-gender” people who have made YouTube videos where they wake up and can’t decide which pronoun they wish to use that day.

Since no one wants you to remember the pronouns, they want you to feel compelled to do so; when they continue to create more and more versions of words it is possible, therefore, to keep you in a constant state of transgression against the “rightthink.”

The panel tries very hard to isolate the “pronoun question” as something other than what it is. Mary Rogan, the transgender author on the panel, describes how Freedom of Expression on campuses were designed for political speech, not identitarian politics:

Wait, what?

Mary says, mockingly, “Enough with this political correctness; you don’t get to choose your pronouns.”

You don’t get to choose (manufacture) your pronouns. If you want, you can choose your noun (e.g., “I choose to be known as a woman/man”), but you do not get to choose the metacommunicative state. By attempting to choose how people use pronouns, you are turning “pronouns” into “nouns.” It’s almost as if these people never went to Elementary School.

Or watched “Schoolhouse Rock:”

So, if it’s not the actual pronouns in question here, what is it all about? Could they be used specifically because of the fact that they represent a layer of abstraction away from the the debate, away from scrutiny? Could it be that pronouns are being used as an excuse to coerce innocent people into believing that they are, in fact, guilty of a mortal sin?

Why yes, as a matter of fact, that’s right!

Look at how Kyle Kirkup tells you this up front. Note how he talks about how “pronouns are a red herring,” because they really represent “broader human rights questions,” and then as soon as he is asked about the letter of the law he spins on a dime.

This is very, very simple. By raising the level of conversation to a persistent metacommunicative state, Bill C-16 (and, as I’ve found out, New York City!) means that any person at any time can always threaten you with a Social Justice version of Loi des Suspects.

Oh, Okay, You Got Me

It all seems so innocuous, until you start to realize that even the slightest pushback opens up the pandora’s box.

Look at this next clip to see just how insidious this is, and how plainly Dr. Peterson lays it all out. Kirkup attempts to insist that it’s a “myth and misconception” that this is equivalent to hate speech, but are actually relatively “minor additions.” Dr. Peterson reminds him that it is in the hate speech category of the human rights code, at which point Kirkup ‘fesses up and says that it’s for a good cause:

I want to highlight a specific point made in that clip as well, at around :35 of the video above. Dr. Peterson remarks that even this conversation is at risk of becoming illegal. I hope you paid attention to what Kirkup says after Peterson corrects him, because it is pivotal:

“Section 3-18 sets out a series of identifiable groups, and we’re talking about the clearest of cases, cases where we’re talking about advocating of genocide. We have a series of groups that are identified in the code, so all we’re doing is adding gender identity and gender expression to those groups in the code.”

This is critical. He says it. Right. There.

They are equating using incorrect pronouns to categories of speech that advocate genocide. And they are creating punishments to suit the crime.

This is why they absolutely, positively must keep the conversation at the metacommunicative level. It’s the only way they can equate gender pronoun misuse with genocide.

Talking About Talking About Pronouns

Peterson is absolutely correct. We have gotten to the boundaries of permissible discussion topics. By maintaining a conversation here, at the metacommunication level, they never, ever have to actually discuss the subject at hand. They have managed to equate Peterson with genocidal maniacs, and Matte actually flat-out accuses Peterson of abusing his students.

In this clip, Peterson has just explained that the University is at risk, thanks to the same law he’s protesting, of being held liable for hate speech. At this point, Matte decides to go for the throat:

Peterson has been completely calm, rational, and collected during every video I’ve seen of him talking, despite verbal and physical abuse being thrown his way (actual abuse). He has never made any claims about any specific transgendered individual, nor has he even mentioned transgendered people as a group.

Matte is a genuinely messed up person. I mean, in the head.

He knows that no one will come to defend Peterson, and he is completely free to bully him, knowing that no one will come to Peterson’s defense in this group. He knows there is no evidence for this accusation whatsoever, and even given the opportunity to modify his language by the moderator, he plants his flag even more squarely in the ground.

He knows this is the point in the conversation when it is time to eviscerate Peterson on live TV, to ramp up the attacks based upon the metacommunicative position from which he can do so. If you look at the smug look on Matte’s face, he thinks he has Peterson exactly where he wants him.

He does not expect, however, for Peterson to call his bluff. “Is that tantamount to violence?” Peterson asks.

“Yes, of course!”

“What about hate speech; is it tantamount to hate speech?”

“Absolutely!”

Peterson has Matte precisely where he wants him, but Matte is too stupid to know he’s been set up. Without realizing it, Matte has just proven Peterson’s ultimate point about the horrific nature of the law and how it can be escalated to insane proportions. At the end of the clip you can see just how confused Matte is at how his tactic didn’t actually work.

How crushing it must have been for him when Theryn Meyer, transgender pundit, completely agrees with Peterson:

J’Accuse!

During the entire hour show, it was impossible for any of the panelists to actually address what Peterson was saying and the ideas he was espousing. The closest anyone came was Kyle Kirkup, who got intellectually bitchslapped back into his hole (see above). Every other panelist attempted to either deflect or outright redirect the conversation away from his communication and back into the metacommunicative realm.

If you can stand one last clip with Matte (I’m struggling, believe me – his upspeak is atrocious), watch how he goes through Ukrainian-style contortions of logic to deliberately avoiding the conversation about Freedom of Speech:

If you made it to the end of that clip, you’d hear Matte lament the fact that “it’s a shame that we can’t be more open in talking about this.” This, despite the fact that he has demonized Dr. Peterson (and those like him) as “abusing students and colleagues” for “talking about this.”

Nicholas Matte has some incredible, unmitigated gall.

No Platform!

Like so many advocates of Social Justice, the fact that Dr. Peterson refuses to allow himself to be called a criminal, his sheer abstinence in refusing to be guilted into confessing sins that he did not commit, the only recourse is to “No Platform”:

It doesn't matter that I have no idea what he's talking about - shut him up!

It doesn’t matter that I have no idea what he’s talking about – shut him up!

As much as I admire Steve Paikin for being one of the most fair and balanced moderators I’ve seen in modern times (perhaps the most fair and balanced, in fact – this video should be shown to journalism students as a way to control a panel conversation on camera), it was a shame that this was added to the timeline. The author was hidden under the shroud of anonymity. Matte actually thanked Paikin for airing it (I edited the clip a bit too short, sorry).

Remember, Peterson has never said anything about “the humanity and rights of transgender, non-binary, and intersex people,” nor has he said that those rights are a matter of debate. This anonymous person, who evidently backed out from appearing on the program, not only misuses the term “false equivalency” (seriously, that’s not what it means), but to even engage would “be an act of transphobia.”

To put it another way – the very act of stepping outside the metacommunicative state that they depend upon would be “transphobic.”

Theryn understands this, and explicitly states it:

Again, this is crucial. advocates of Social Justice must stay in this state in order to be able to do this. Changes in the law allow them to continue to do so, and Peterson knows full well what the consequences of this are:

 

Were You Triggered?

Okay, I’m sorry. I had promised that I wouldn’t torture you with any more, but the audacity of this guy knows no bounds. I honestly don’t remember a time when someone got on my nerves this fast. Nicholas Matte, the squeaky, annoying, science-denying upspeak twit, felt concerned that people who watched the program were in need of some counseling. I seriously hope none of his students ever watch Game of Thrones. Or Sesame Street.

We Are In Danger

This is not just a Canadian problem. We have seen legislation in the United States very much like this one. Title IX legislation has given rabid teeth to the criminalization of “harassment” and “offense.” The weaponization of language has begun, and the advocates of tyranny and authoritarian thought control have mastered the nuances of metacommunicative abstraction.

They are not even hiding it any more. They have managed, through this method, to equate resisting coercion with “advocating genocide.” They have baked it into the laws. They have “no platformed” dissent about this.

And they have restricted the permissible language to even talk about it.

The reaction to Dr. Peterson exemplifies everything wrong with Social Justice advocates. He is unflappable, so they can’t accuse him of being hystrionic. He remains on point, so they can’t accuse him of flip-flopping. He is calm and rational in the face of rude, abrasive, obnoxious, and disingenuous attacks. He is always polite and engages with sincerity. He has a genuine desire to have a conversation about this.

And they can’t do it.

If advocates of Social Justice cannot have a calm and rational conversation with Dr. Jordan Peterson, they can have no rational conversation at all.

Perhaps without realizing it, Dr. Peterson has exposed the very true, raw nature of social justice advocates. They can’t control him, they can’t silence him, and they can’t bully him. All they can do is try to redefine him, and criminalize him based upon their Newspeak definition.

Bonus Round

After all this time, if you find yourself looking for another take on this panel discussion, I highly recommend you look at Sargon of Akkad’s take, which I also agree with (but takes a very different approach).

Either way, Jordan Peterson is a hero.

 

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6 Comments

  • Weaponized Metacommunication – J Metz's Blog October 29, 2016 at 10:18

    […] be talking more explicitly about how this works with direct examples. Then, I’ll show you a real-life example of how dangerous this really is. For now, I’ll leave you – dear reader – with an exercise for your homework. Look […]

    Reply
  • War on Individualism: Gender Neutral Bathrooms – J Metz's Blog November 17, 2016 at 07:41

    […] Justice advocates are all about “respect.” Jordan Peterson’s confrontation with trans people over “pronouns” quickly devolved into “if you don’t use our pronoun, then you don’t respect us” […]

    Reply
  • Post-Mortem Analysis of the Feminism Debate, Part III – J Metz's Blog December 14, 2016 at 14:54

    […] College campuses, in general, have become the last place to engage in these kinds of discussions. Now dissent – the lifeblood of good ideas – is treated as hostile harassment, something to be eradicated at all costs. If this comes to pass, exchanges such as these won’t be able to raise discourse to any higher level, because they will not be permitted at all. […]

    Reply
  • The Coming of the Second Dark Ages – J Metz's Blog March 7, 2017 at 09:45

    […] wildly outlandish claims is representative of your failings, not theirs. Just look at the demonization of Jordan Peterson, who has attempted to hold intellectual conversations with them to see just how far they […]

    Reply
  • Academia and the Chinese Fallacy – J Metz's Blog March 15, 2017 at 17:39

    […] submitted for consideration a number of examples in earlier posts on Academia, as well as the Pronoun Polemic and Academic Newspeak. It’s worth taking a look at just how prevalent this stuff is becoming […]

    Reply
  • The Truth About Autoethnographies: Sum Ergo Veritas – J Metz's Blog April 14, 2017 at 08:08

    […] and staff to adhere to, lest some of the students be “triggered” or feel “harassed” by the use of a wrong pronoun. Governments have gotten into the act to elevate the thought police to the level of hate crimes […]

    Reply

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