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Jordan Peterson: The Grift That Keeps on Giving
The clinal psychologist-turned-right-wing culture warrior has come full circle with another manufactured controversy.
By his own admission, Jordan Peterson hasn’t seen a patient since 2017. That’s really all you need to know about his latest manufactured controversy.
He closed down his clinical practice and decided becoming a right-wing culture warrior was more important to him than seeing patients.
But now, due to his unhinged social media presence, he’s been asked by the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) to undergo social media training lest he lose licence.
Peterson — whose star has waned in recent years after the self-help guru went to Russia and Serbia to be put into a medically-induced coma rather than get appropriate treatment for his benzodiazepine addiction — clearly wants to recreate the magic of 2016, when he catapulted to fame and fortune on the backs of trans people.
At that time, he did so by lying about how anodyne updates to federal human rights legislation to add gender identity as a protected class would lead to people being forced into gulags for refusing to use people’s pronouns.
How many people have been put into pronoun gulags in Canada since? Exactly zero.
While Peterson used to hide his anti-trans animus behind a cloak of plausible deniability by arguing his grievance wasn’t with trans people, but their preferred pronouns somehow inhibiting his right to free speech, he’s become more brazenly transphobic recently, calling being trans a “viciously harmful fad” and comparing gender reassignment surgery to Nazi medical experiments.
He’s also become increasingly incoherent, as evidenced by this exchange on Joe Rogan’s podcast:
There's no such thing as climate. Climate and everything are the same word, and that's what bothers me about the climate change types. It's like, this is something that bothers me about it, technically. It's like climate is about everything. OK. But your models aren't based on everything. Your models are based on a set number of variables.
So that means you've reduced the variables — which are everything — to that set. Well, how did you decide which set of variables to include in the equation if it's about everything?... Because your models do not and cannot model everything.
But his plan to revive his waning career appears to have been somewhat effective. We’re all talking about this clown again.
I crunched the numbers and in a 24-hour span on December 6 and 7, 2022, Peterson tweeted 110 times, excluding retweets. These numbers make Donald Trump look like an amateur.
That is in itself concerning and indicative of someone who is deeply unwell.
While Peterson claims he’s been ordered into “re-education” for tweeting criticism of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and retweeting Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, anyone who’s followed his Twitter presence of late knows that’s a crock of shit.
To Peterson’s credit, he released his full correspondence with the college for all to see. However, he ended up having to delete it because it exposed the personal information of his complainants.
Global News reporter Rachel Gilmore and National Post reporter Tyler Dawson went through the documents.
Here are some lowlights:
Telling a Twitter user concerned about overpopulation, “You’re free to leave at any point” — a clear reference to suicide.
Calling then-Ottawa mayoral candidate Catherine McKenney, who is non-binary, a “thing.” He repeatedly misgenders them in his response to the college.
Tweeting that a plus-size swimsuit model on the cover of Sports Illustrated is “not beautiful,” and that putting her on the cover was an example of “authoritarian tolerance” and a “conscious progressive attempt to manipulate & retool the notion of beauty, reliant on the idiot philosophy that such preferences are learned.”
Deliberately misgendering transgender actor Elliot Page and calling the doctor who performed his gender reassignment surgery a “criminal,” for which he was banned from Twitter until Elon Musk’s takeover.
You could also add his crackpot contention that an all-beef diet cures depression to the list, although none of the complaints appear to be about that extraordinarily idiotic piece of unqualified medical advice.
How can Peterson be trusted to provide care to people who are suicidal, trans, have an eating disorder, or all of the above?
It’s undeniable that his tweets bring into question his professionalism as a therapist, which, again, is entirely hypothetical, as he hasn’t had a clinical practice since 2017.
Since posting her thread analyzing the documents, Peterson has been obsessively quote tweeting Gilmore.
For the past year, Gilmore has been subjected to a vicious, targeted harassment campaign, alongside Erica Ifill of the Hill Times, Saba Eitzaz of the Toronto Star and Anna Junker of the Edmonton Journal, among others. I wonder how many of their tormentors are Peterson devotees.
Notably, Peterson did not go after the the Post’s Dawson. In fact, he shared Dawson’s story without comment.
Peterson no doubt has an affinity for the National Post, where his rantings and ravings are routinely published without any apparent editing.
Conrad Black and Rex Murphy, kindred spirits with Peterson in using needless verbosity and obscure words to mask the fact that they have nothing interesting to say, and their aversion to being edited, wrote columns about how Peterson being threatened with losing the license he wasn’t using is the greatest injustice on earth.
So too did Howard Levitt in the Financial Post, who failed to disclose he’s Peterson’s lawyer. When you’re a right-wing Postmedia columnist, editorial standards apparently don’t exist.
The Toronto Sun, also owned by Postmedia, published an editorial calling the college’s upholding its professional standards “Orwellian,” a phrase now used to describe anything a right-winger dislikes. There were also three op-eds in two days from the Sun’s main columnist, Brian Lilley, who dutifully wrote about how persecuted Peterson is.
Peterson was working on a secret project for Postmedia in 2018, for which he was given an entire floor at the company’s downtown Toronto office, according to reporting at Canadaland on the newspaper chain’s hard rightwards editorial shift. One wonders how many journalists’ salaries he was paid for a project that hasn’t come to fruition.
But Peterson’s philosophy is the perfect fit for the Postmedia chain. Forget about the climate crisis, economic inequality, racism and COVID, all problems are individualized and can be solved by cleaning your room and getting laid.
I know Peterson’s legions of fans will say I’m taking him out of context and that my brain power is insufficient to compute the nature of his brilliance. But the proof’s in the pudding.
If anything, the college of psychologists is letting Peterson off easy by offering him the opportunity to take social media training.
His Twitter and media presence is one thing, but what was Peterson like as a shrink?
After speaking to the former patient who launched the complaint, pseudonymously referred to as Samantha, journalist Jonathan Goldsbie reported:
Shortly before Jordan Peterson decided he couldn’t be both a media personality and a practicing psychologist at the same time, he cancelled sessions with patients, later claiming illness, while maintaining an appointment to appear on television; he responded to messages from patients with auto-reply emails which brought up the challenges of his burgeoning fame, directing recipients to send argumentative emails to his ideological opponents; he employed his wife to sort through emails from patients without first asking for their consent; he shared potentially identifying information about patients with other patients; and he twice visited the restaurant where Samantha worked, returning after she had implored him not to, having seemingly forgotten that she worked there.
When Peterson did find time to see Samantha, he was often preoccupied reading and responding to emails during their appointments. She also started noticing an increasingly “erratic demeanour,” in Goldsbie’s words.
In an episode of the Behind the Bastards podcast, co-host Robert Evans called this account “the most disgusting thing I’ve heard” about Peterson. I’m inclined to agree.
He abandoned his patients to go on TV and shriek about trans people, using his professional background to present himself as an authority on issues he knows nothing about.
Now he wants us to believe it’s his God-given right to be registered as a clinical psychologist, despite the fact that he abandoned this career years ago — all to stay in the public conversation.
Peterson is fond of saying “hierarchies reward competence.” But his own career is a testament to the fact that this couldn’t be further from the truth.