A Bold, But Unemployed, Academic

In Toronto, prof Jordan Peterson started a shitstorm by refusing to be compelled to say “xe” because it wasn’t a real word.

By now most of the country is familiar with the story of one professor, Jordan Peterson, at the University of Toronto, who has expressed strong and vivid dissent over the university’s attempt to force him to use certain words — ersatz pronouns, a batch of neologisms (ze, zim, zer, and a raft of others, in place of he or she) coined by progressive groups, intended to apply to students who “self-identify” as other than the archaic and obsolete designations of man and woman.

Prof. Peterson will not use these new cant words. He will not be ordered by the university, or pressured by activists, to take their words and put them in his mouth. He goes further and insists that it is an abandonment of academic freedom, and freedom of speech more generally, for the university or others to insist or attempt to mandate such a practice.

In honor of his bold and principled stance, he’s received a warning and two letters of reprimand. This isn’t a matter of academic freedom or free speech, he’s told. It’s a matter of hate speech. HATE SPEECH!!! That explains it in a rational and articulate way, right?

As a result of Peterson’s speaking on these matters, “Some students have been the target of specific and violent threats, including threats of assault, injury and death against them individually and as members of the trans community. We trust these that these impacts on students and others were not your intention in making (the controversial remarks). However, in view of these impacts, as well as the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code, we urge you to stop making these remarks.”

How Peterson’s position results in “threats of assault, injury and death” is neither explained nor, short of some space alien reasoning, remotely comprehensible, but this is Toronto, and it’s subject to the Ontario Human Rights Code, which requires every tummy to be rubbed, no matter how sensitive. Thank god this is America, where we honor academic freedom, free speech and butterflies, despite the efforts of some peculiar academic reasoning.


Putting aside the slightly confused grasp of incitement, which unfortunately can’t be easily forgiven since the author has a law degree, though it’s eclipsed by her feminist conscience, she makes the critical point that flagrant hate speech isn’t a problem. It’s the reasonable and articulate kind that’s most nefarious, because it normalizes hate speech. Or, using other words, fails to conform to Sorial’s social sensibilities of justice. And if that doesn’t make it wrong, she doesn’t know what does.

But Sorial is from Australia, which is upside down to begin with. So seriously, who cares what that sheila thinks? It’s not like anybody in the good ol’ US of A would play a didgeridoo or put a shrimp on the barbie (it tends to dry them out).

So why wouldn’t Michael Rectenwald expect to be able to express his views without retaliation? The 57-year-old New York University liberal studies prof enjoyed academic freedom and free speech, the American version.  What could possibly go wrong?

An NYU professor crusading against political correctness and student coddling was booted from the classroom last week after his colleagues complained about his “incivility,” The Post has learned.

Liberal studies prof Michael Rectenwald, 57, said he was forced Wednesday to go on paid leave for the rest of the semester.

“They are actually pushing me out the door for having a different perspective,” the academic told The Post.

Did he do the unthinkable, like publish a book contending that biological females have anatomical differences from males. Nope. Worse. He used the twitters.

On Oct. 11, Rectenwald used his ­Internet alter ego to criticize “safe spaces” — the recent campus trend of “protecting” students from uncomfortable speech — as “at once a hall of mirrors and a rubber room.”

Two weeks ago he posted on his “anti-PC” feed a photo of a flyer put out by NYU resident advisers telling students how to avoid wearing potentially offensive Halloween costumes.

“The scariest thing about Halloween today is . . . the liberal totalitarian costume surveillance,” he wrote.

As is by now obvious to everyone, Halloween has nothing to do with kids having fun, dressing in customes and begging for candy from people they don’t know. It’s all about destroying people’s lives by cultural appropriation and stereotypes, causing them PTSD and forcing them to utter stupid demands that preclude them from learning anything useful before graduation.

And Rectenwald’s fellow academics rose up when they learned of this sordid attack on academic freedom and free speech.

But Rectenwald says he began getting “dirty looks” in his department and on Wednesday figured out why: A 12-person committee calling itself the Liberal Studies Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group, including two deans, published a letter to the editor in the same paper.

“As long as he airs his views with so little appeal to evidence and civility, we must find him guilty of illogic and incivility in a community that predicates its work in great part on rational thought and the civil exchange of ideas,” they wrote.

“We seek to create a dynamic community that values full participation. Such efforts are not the ‘destruction of academic integrity’ Professor Rectenwald suggests, but rather what make possible our program’s approach to global studies,” they argued.

And what could have possibly brought on this inexplicable, and clearly unacceptable, incivility?

“They claimed they were worried about me and a couple people had expressed concern about my mental health.”

They have a point. What was he thinking, bucking the forces of social justice in academia using that most nefarious of weapons, reason.

Apologia: In the past, I’ve been critical of academics for their failure to call out flagrant intellectual dishonesty, particularly when I’ve been informed privately that they despise what’s happening on campus, but to speak out would be to invite being called “racist” and “misogynist.”  I’ve called them coward for failing to take a little heat.

In light of this incident, perhaps I was hasty and unfair. I don’t have to answer to a 12-member committee of “intellectuals” mumbling gibberish, so it’s no big deal to shoulder the SJWs’ epithets. They, on the other hand, could be out of a tenured job (which is a pretty sweet gig).

19 thoughts on “A Bold, But Unemployed, Academic

  1. Dragoness Eclectic

    The morning coffee hasn’t quite percolated through my skull yet, so that’s my excuse if my reasoning is less than coherent here.

    I’ve seen “hate speech which takes the form of ‘reasoned’ argument” a few times in my life, and it’s scary stuff, because you realize the person behind it is deliberately using junk science and twisted logic to try to justify denying human rights or basic humanity (or simple justice) to a chunk of the population, and when you realize that is their goal… evil is scary to see up close. However… the only way to disarm that flavor of evil is more speech–expose it in the open, ridicule it, tear it apart. Trying to ban it just drives it underground, and makes it more attractive to the disaffected.

    Sadly, much more often, “hate speech which takes the form of ‘reasoned’ argument” is just “speech I disagree with that is more persuasive than mine”. Trying to ban it just means you’re a thin-skinned censorious nitwit who doesn’t know their own convictions well enough to defend them.

    1. SHG Post author

      Here’s an alternative idea. Instead of starting with an excuse for writing a stupid comment, wait until your head is on straight or don’t write a stupid comment. No one forces you to leave a comment, No one forces you to leave a comment before the “coffee…has percolated through your skull.” No one forces you to leave a mind-numbingly stupid comment. Just don’t do it.

      1. Cabbage

        That seems like a pointlessly uncivil response, SHG, given that Dragoness’s comment was perfectly coherent and sensible.

        1. SHG Post author

          It was uncivil, but hardly pointless. And the second paragraph of her comment was idiotic, which is apparently what you find to be sensible. We have higher standards than that here. Since this is your first comment here, I suggest that you’re not going to like the place and should immediately go somewhere more sensible.

          1. Davd

            Oh great. Another narcissistic SJW n00b who’s too stupid to have a clue, but thinks he’s going to tone police you. What will it be this time, the usual 10 gibberish comments or run away crying that he’ll never read SJ again. How do you tolerate these people? Better question, why? Just delete these fools.

            1. SHG Post author

              It’s my cross to bear. Although, it’s not entirely clear he’s an SJW,though that’s certainly a possibility.

  2. Erik H.

    The frightening thing to me is the newspeak here:

    “Furthermore, it was easily established at the first meeting of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group that we — a group of 14 Liberal Studies students, faculty and administrative staff — are not interested in trigger warnings: we are interested in addressing historic, continuing inequities and in helping ensure that Liberal Studies is a community in which no one is marginalized by reason of their identity, whether tacitly assumed by others or actively claimed. We seek to create a dynamic community that values full participation.”

    It’s not enough to ban hate speech, and it’s not enough to push for trigger warnings. You also need to do it in semi-secret, using language designed to obscure reality.

  3. MonitorsMost

    Too often, we tolerate commentary lambasting our calls for viewpoint censorship as ‘reasoned’ criticism. Nevertheless, this ‘reasoned’ criticism actually causes us more harm because it makes us look like idiots. In this post, I argue that it is important to find such commentators guilty of illogic and incivility. Further, I argue that such determinations of guilt should be made by the 12 person “Committee of Whining Ninnies for Enpowerment Nonsense.”

      1. Patrick Maupin

        And here I thought you were occasionally guilty of civility. Either way, the remedy’s the same.

  4. Lucas Beauchamp

    Rechtenwald doesn’t understand the hurt from appropriationist Halloween costumes. At our annual municipal blow out, not a single person wearing a Dracula costume was Romanian. And they call this town progressive!

  5. Lucas Beauchamp

    Sorial is right. You can dress up criticism of the USA as reasonable, as articulate, as academic, as political, but in the end it’s just America hatred. No one in this great country should have to suffer it.

  6. B. McLeod

    Sometimes, I am tempted to become a “progressive” “liberal,” just so that I will be entitled to silence everyone who disagrees with me.

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