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Jordan Peterson shines Down Under


DOES Jordan Peterson ever take a break? He recently has been a man at work in a land down under: during the second half of February the indefatigable Doctor took his Twelve Rules for Life tour to New Zealand and Australia, inevitably triggering some of the more delicate locals.

While in Oz, Peterson appeared on ABC’s discussion show Q&A, this being the Australian equivalent of the BBC’s Question Time on which he popped up last November. The format of our Question Time, in which the five panellists are for much of the time secondary to the audience, did not allow the Doc to hit his stride; nonetheless, the sight of Jordan Peterson seated next to Diane Abbott provided a jolly juxtaposition.

On Australia’s Q&A, he again was one of five guests and the host attempted to limit each of them to speaking for only one minute at a time. Despite this restriction, because audience participation was limited to asking a handful of questions, the debate amongst the panellists became much more expansive than he had experienced in Britain, providing Peterson with far greater opportunity to expound his theses.

Probably due to the presence of Peterson, the subjects raised by the Australian audience were less parochial than in a normal edition of Question Time; the Doctor therefore had the chance to address more profound matters.

One clip from Q&A which already has been widely circulated was his answer to the question ‘Do you believe that a stay-at-home, full-time mother is adequately valued in today’s society?’ Peterson’s reply included: ‘I think we do an awful lot of lying to women in our society . . . I think we lie to 18- and 19-year-old women nonstop, especially in universities and educational institutions, by telling them that a career is going to give the fundamental purpose to their life. For most people that’s simply not the case, nor should it be.’

Another questioner invoked Martin Luther King’s dream of people being judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character: ‘How is today’s identity politics consistent with that vision?’

‘I don’t think it is consistent with that vision at all,’ was Peterson’s unsurprising response. ‘We all belong to groups, the issue is whether the individual identity is primary and the group identity is secondary . . . If you are a proponent of equality of outcome, of quotas, then you de facto accept the proposition that group identity is primary. And there are all sorts of dangers associated with that which far outweigh whatever good you are likely to do.’

One such proponent of quotas is Australian politician Terri Butler, appropriately seated to Jordan Peterson’s left and wearing red. At one point she claimed, with a straight face, that ‘no one says there is anything toxic about masculinity per se’. Channelling his inner Blakey from On the Buses (‘I’ll get you, Butler!’), the Doctor administered to Leftie Terri a strong dose of reality.

That exchange had followed Peterson’s declaration: ‘I’m not anti-feminist per se . . . I do stand by my original statement that there is a brand of more radical feminism that insists our culture is best characterised as an oppressive patriarchy . . . that’s an appalling sociological doctrine and I think it has very negative psychological effects.’

One panellist ‘not entirely out of sympathy with Jordan’s critique’ was Catherine (Cate) McGregor, formerly a male military officer, now a writer and cricket commentator, who generally is regarded as Australia’s most prominent trans-woman. And because Jordan Peterson came to prominence by resisting Canada’s enforced speech code on gender pronouns, it was reported that both he and McGregor felt ABC had tried to engineer a personality clash.

In fact, during the broadcast there was more agreement than antagonism between the pair, and in many regards Cate McGregor unexpectedly was small-c conservative: ‘I don’t believe that as a minority the trans-community can legislate our way to acceptance. We can’t. We have too often, in my experience, inverted the power relations. We’re a telephone booth minority, despite the argument that there is an epidemic of transgenderism.’

The former Malcolm McGregor had been an outstanding young cricketer and seemingly still plays to a high standard. At a time when Martina Navratilova and Sharron Davies have been attacked by aggressive trans-activists for their commonsense opinions on biological men competing against women, it was welcome to hear Cate McGregor say: ‘I don’t disagree with Jordan that born-males have an enormous advantage in sport.’

Measured, witty – ‘You [Peterson] are outselling Shane Warne. That delights me in two ways because no one has had more bleached blonde hair or had more work done than I. But Warnie is a close second’ – and self-deprecating regarding her transition – ‘Sorry, guys, I ratted on the team’ – unlike so many of the truculent trans-lobby, the good-humoured Cate McGregor is liable to give trans-activism a good name.

One questioner, who in Britain would be disparaged as a grumbling Gammon, albeit one overcooked, complained that free speech is under ever greater threat: ‘The increasing trend here in Australia is that anyone who has a counter-view to the socialists, PC lobby, greens and communist brigade are shouted down, literally, and called racist or homophobic. Any form of rational debate is difficult, if not impossible. How can we counter this?’

Jordan Peterson alluded to some of his own experiences with the Leftist mob and concurred: ‘Your claim that if we engage in certain types of discussion this kind of reaction emerges is absolutely the case.’ Dr Peterson prescribed ‘a certain amount of persistence’ and, above all, ‘if you haven’t done anything wrong, do not apologise’.

Yet during the show Peterson did offer an apology – to Right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopolous. ABC naughtily sprang on Peterson a recording of Yiannopolous taking him to task: ‘Although you talk a good game . . . when it comes down to it you always seem to fold, stay silent or betray your allies.’

Milo is embittered that Peterson once appeared to accept a questioner’s assertion that Yiannopolous, to whom Peterson has referred as a ‘prankster’, is racist. One imagines that this ambush by ABC left the Doc seething, although he retained his customary composure. However, Peterson was surprisingly contrite: ‘I don’t think I did defend you very well at that particular time. I don’t believe you’re a racist. It was a question that caught me off guard in an audience that was exceptionally hostile and surreal. In so far as it might be helpful to you, I offer you an apology for that.’

It was a remarkable admission and not the sort of thing one is likely to see and hear during any forthcoming edition of Question Time. If during the week ahead you watch only one discussion programme, forgo Fiona Bruce and whoever comprises the next edition’s retinue for Remain; instead, invest your time in the full 80-minute broadcast of Jordan Peterson on Australia’s Q&A.

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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