In a court case that has wide implications for anyone here who cares about the First Amendment, clinical psychologist and author Jordan Peterson has been ordered by a Canadian court to undergo re-education.
In a decision released Wednesday, three Ontario Divisional Court judges unanimously sided with the College of Psychologists of Ontario in a case stemming from some of Peterson’s contentious language and online statements.
Justice Paul Schabas wrote that the college’s order that Peterson undergo a program on professionalism in public statements balanced its mandate to regulate the profession, “is not disciplinary and does not prevent Dr. Peterson from expressing himself on controversial topics.”
Peterson had said his statements were not made in his capacity as a clinical psychologist, but instead were “off-duty opinions” – an argument the court rejected.
Here’s a relevant quote from Jordan Peterson: “When you have something to say, silence is a lie.” Note the second clause in the next sentence:
The prescribed coaching would focus on Peterson’s “unprofessional language” and would not prevent him from expressing himself on issues he or his audience care about, the judge wrote.
Citing a clear and transparent review process from the college, previous warnings it had made to Peterson about his language and his “unwillingness to acknowledge the (complaints committee’s) concerns,” Schabas dismissed the judicial review application and ordered Peterson to pay the college $25,000.
This punishment, not only the re-education but also the fine, is intended precisely to stop Jordan Peterson from expressing himself when he has something to say. There’s simply no other reason for this to happen. That was the intent of this case, and that was the intent of the Court.
While this ruling comes from a Canadian court, in a Canadian case, there’s no reason to think it can’t happen here. The political Left in the United States has been pushing for laws, court rulings, and regulations around free speech for some time now. Recently, my colleague Jeff Charles made some excellent points on exactly this possibility:
When they have enough support for these (hate speech) measures, they could start with civil liability. If someone says something like “men are men and women are women,” perhaps a transgender individual who was in earshot could file a lawsuit against the supposed offender. In this way, the woke crowd could essentially punish people for speech by using the court system to extort them for their hard-earned cash. Later, when Matsuda and Delgado’s ilk manage to convince people that these words actually constitute a form of violence, they might be able to push for criminal laws, which would create situations in the United States similar to what we saw in the United Kingdom.
The argument would be that using state force to punish people for problematic speech can deter behavior that is harmful to society. They would claim it would decrease violence against racial minorities and members of the LGBTQ community. Of course, this would be a lie, but that doesn’t matter, does it?
We see the example a Canadian court has set. We see the openly expressed wishes of the American leftists to have similar cases here. This is a pretext that should be absolutely horrifying to anyone who understands and believes in the concept of free speech.
Free speech means you have to let people express themselves openly without fear of legal consequences. It means you have to let Nazis have rallies, to let the KKK have marches, to let the New Black Panthers have public meetings. As long as no physical or financial harm is done to another citizen, the most loathsome among us have the right to express themselves openly. And Jordan Peterson is far from this kind of extremist; he is, simply, a mainstream conservative, one in a position to make himself heard, and one who has not let the threats of the left intimidate him. If they can come after Jordan Peterson, they can come after any of us. And when the First Amendment is rendered meaningless, the Second, Fourth, Fifth, and eventually the others will go down as well.
Notice I specified “physical or financial harm.” These kinds of cases are based around neither, only some nebulous “emotional harm,” which can neither be rigorously defined nor quantified. This is anathema to the concept of justice; as Thomas Jefferson said, “If it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my back it’s none of my business.” And it’s none of the justice system’s business either, be that system Canadian or American.
Back during the Cold War, we thought it would be Communists who put Americans in re-education camps. We were right. We were only wrong about where the Communists came from. We thought it would be Russia or China, not New York or Boston.