Dr. Jordan Peterson won the debate, but the score at the end was 248-40.
“Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, it[C-16] would add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.” For months now Dr. Peterson has suggested that Bill C-16 was a legitimate threat to free-speech while advocates of the bill contend it is necessary for equality for LGBT people. The bills seems to force people to address others as others prefer. Some self-professed LGBT people take this very seriously.
I can’t pretend I know much about Canada’s government, fortunately, YouTube provides the only part of this conversation that matters. This is the exchange:
Marc Gold: …but there is nothing in this bill that stands in the way of you taking a principled position against all aspects of this, including your criticisms of the activists. Um, the issue is the pronoun. And unless I’m reading it wrong, Senator Pratt pointed out the Ontario Human Rights Commission policy does not say that refusing to use a person’s self-identified name, or personal pronoun does constitute gender based harassment. I may be wrong, but I believe it said it could. That’s a real difference. If I turn to you and say, “Look, please call me they, because that’s how I see myself. Because it’s hurtful for you to call me sir -or um, miss or whatever it would be, uh- but you refuse. I say, well ok, you’re uncomfortable with that because you’re not comfortable with that, call me Marc. And you refuse, were you to continue to call me by the name that I’m telling you is hurtful to me, is that not in fact something that [pause] is that not something that the law can properly address? This is-you are knowingly hurting me. Uh, and-and in that respect um our courts ultimately, I think, are capable of striking a proper balance between people that slip-up and people, that for whatever reasons just can’t get the words out of their mouths, and those that persist in intentionally causing harm. Would you agree with my characterization of free-speech as it applies to this issue?
Mr. Brown then interjects mis-gendering will “likely” be considered harassment, before giving Dr. Peterson the floor.
Dr. Peterson: I would say the very idea that calling someone a term that they didn’t choose causes them such irreparable harm that legal remedy should be sought, um, rather than regarding it as a form of impoliteness, that legal remedy should be sought, including potential violation of the hate speech codes is an indication of just how deeply the culture of victimization as sunk into our society.
Never mind that this will rarely happen. Never mind that the accused will be given multiple opportunities to clarify what was meant. Never mind that several penalties will be issued before the accused could be found in contempt of court and jailed for not addressing someone as that someone sees fit-a point that Marc Gold seemed to acknowledge is a possibility.
What gives government, any government, the right or ability to determine what one’s intention was in any action, let alone speech? Even if said government had the right and ability to read minds, what difference would that make? Would a crime be legal if the criminal didn’t intend to commit a crime? This is only first glaring problem with Mr. Gold’s line of thought, as Dr. Peterson addressed by stating that if a person didn’t mean to murder someone, they are still charged with manslaughter.
The second problem is that proponents of the bill seem to have the belief that other people are in control of proponents’ feelings. Dr. Peterson must be going crazy, because his opposition does not understand the most basic belief that all of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy(REBT) is grounded on: you are in control of your thoughts, emotions, and actions-no one else. Our thoughts control our emotions; our emotions urge us to act; our actions and their consequences change our thoughts. When someone calls you a name, you have the choice on how to interpret (think) about what that name means to you and how much significance that person’s opinion has.
The example that has stayed with me for years is that of Dr. Viktor Frankl. He was a neurologist and prisoner at Auschwitz. During his time in a concentration camp he was walking along a fence, in winter, wearing rags of rags for clothes, literally starving. He was in Auschwitz! Despite being in the worst circumstance most of us could image, Dr. Frankl comes to the realization that despite all of this, he can have joy, thinking of his wife. He goes on, as recorded in his amazing book A Man’s Search for Meaning
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.”
Choosing your own thoughts is the first and the last of freedoms and no other freedoms come without this one. No one can control how you feel by calling you names.
However, what you say has a tremendous power of how you think. Jane Elliot’s Blue Eyes Brown Eyes and familiarity principle/mere exposure effect suggest that if one says something enough, even if it is a lie and/or one doesn’t believe it, eventually one will believe it. Bill C-16 seeks to change the way people speak, and intentionally or not, could change the way those people think and behave.
No one can change your mind with their actions or their words.
You can change your thoughts with your actions and words.
C-16 is a compromise, in which, government forces you to change your words, possibly resulting in you changing your own thoughts to what the government approves of.
Again, this may be unintentional, it may not happen at all. However, you have the right to say or think what you want. How is even the smallest incursion on this most basic right by government acceptable? This seems to be Dr. Peterson’s position on C-16 while Mr. Gold and proponents respond it is acceptable to tell others what to say and think otherwise our feelings get hurt.
Marc Gold never argued C-16 does not infringe on rights, but that the bill was necessary for people to feel good about themselves. It is okay to take your rights away as long as he and other people he agrees with feel good about it. He cares more about hedonism and people feelings good about themselves than liberty and truth. He cares more about populism than individual freedom.
Nothing allows more people to feel good about themselves than liberty and truth.
Nothing is better for everyone than individual freedom – to choose one’s own way.
I wonder, at times, what would cause me to actively rebel against my government at the cost of my own life. If the US passed a bill like C-16, I would have the answer.