Heated debate on gender pronouns and free speech in Toronto

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well it is a controversial topic on a Toronto University campus this month some people on the campus saying pronouns like he/she him or her do not represent them accurately now the University wants staff to use alternate pronouns but Jordan Peterson is a psychology professor at the University and he is refusing to do that take a look at this reason I'm defending freedom of speech in a civil society Peterson do you have any comments on the Nazi presence at your protest the presence of Nazis and white supremacists assaulting people at your protest you have any comment on that yeah differences I'm speaking out the way I'm speaking out because I think this is a route to no violence and violence is lurking and you can say that that sounds like a threat it was no violence at our protest oh my gosh ah will you refer to me if it wasn't for this law and I asked you to report me we thought he done perhaps what you had your answer was no note if it helped oh so just an example of how things have become heated at the University of Toronto that's seen showing different groups of students some confronting the professor about his position others supporting him now Peterson says this is about free speech but aw Pete is also a professor at the University of Toronto who says that Peterson's language is abusive joining us right now is professor Jordan Peterson as well as professor awp thank you for joining us today thanks professor Peterson let's begin with you why are you against the use of alternate pronouns I know I'm against the use of legislation to determine what words up that myself and other people are required to utter but would you use alternate pronouns if a student asked you to I think I've made my position on that clear already well perhaps not to our audience at home who are just being introduced to this would you use alternate announced and why not I because I don't believe that other people have the right to determine what language I use especially when it's backed by punitive legislation and when the words that are being required are the constructions there are artificial constructions of people I regard as radical ideologue who's viewpoint I do not share well i we have a graphic to show our audience at home at just some of the pronouns being used or asked to be used as alternates among them you see here Z or Zim Z or here Z or 0 also hey or a rather and per so just some of the alternate pronouns there a professor Pete when you hear professor Peterson saying that this is oppressive how do you respond to that um well the Peterson drama has done real harm to real people on campus he's made it harder to be transgender or non-binary I know this from personal experience I'm non-binary and transgender and I know how it's felt to be on the UFT campus for the last month and I also know from private communications with other effective people you know in New Zealand where I grew up academics have a statutory role and trained in the Education Act to be a critic and conscience of society so I think that's an idea of worth exporting to Canada so I'd like to give Peterson about a B+ for his critic role recently and an F for the conscience part a student once said to me when I finally obtained tenure now professor that now that you have obtained super powers you must agree to use them for good for peace and justice so I invite Peterson to start doing more of that well professor Peterson those who are asking for this alternate use of use of rather of alternate pronouns they are saying it boils down to respecting their human rights how do you respond to that I don't think it boils down to respecting their human rights I think that it's an imposition on freedom of speech that's being implemented at a legislative level I also think that if there was a naturally evolving solution to the linguistic problem that's being posed by a small fraction of the transgender community that people would have already adopted it we've never had a situation we think with in in the usage of English before that required legislation to produce a transformation in the manner in which people spoke has a very dangerous precedent so it's one thing to tell people what they can't say so for example we have legislation making it illegal to do such things as deny the Holocaust it's a completely different thing to demand that people use certain words when they're formulating their own ideas and I mean I can get it's also absurd I mean here's one thing that's happened that I don't believe the formulators of this legislation ever foresaw so in New York City for example there are now 31 protected gender identities and I see no reason whatsoever why each of those gender identities can't demand the use of their own pronoun and that absurd things like that have been happening on the University of Michigan campus for example where students have been given permission to tell faculty members and others what pronouns they're to be addressed by and they're multiplying rapidly out of control so the law is bad from a ethical perspective it's sloppily written and besides that the solution that it imposes is practically untenable well I sorry excuse me for jumping in but I want to bring in professor Pete here because we did show those words to our audience at home and perhaps to the control room can show our audience once again when you look at those alternate pronouns I think it's fair to say that some people will see that at home and see that as very unwieldly if you will what do you say to those types of criticisms including the one you just heard from Professor Peterson um well I'd like to encourage people struggling with us to be kind as their first impulse you know we call somebody what they want to be called in our society for instance I don't call somebody Julie if they prefer to be called daughter that's just basic human courtesy here's a great little tip for people who are despairing at the possibility of remembering some all those pronouns what I do is just program in the pronoun next to the person's name in my smartphone so whenever I'm about out and about and I've forgotten whether one of my trans friends use a Z or zero or they or them or something else I just look it up and it's really super easy one thing I'd like you to really look at in regard to this controversy is to watch out for who's getting centered in a discussion political correctness is code that powerful people use when they're annoyed that they're actually not the center of attention in any given discussion and Bill shocks that c16 is actually not about cisgender people it's about protections for transgender people and that's not you know it's not about Peterson so you know we should have people learning to listen more we have two ears and one mouth for a very good reason when things get political I like to ask who benefits and who gets to decide the rules of the game so you know mostly with this Peterson controversy which is really just a small drama tempest in a teapot you know he could just get over learning to program a few pronouns into his phone by the way I only have half a dozen or so that I actually use on an everyday basis so it's not all that difficult sorry now as we've good job because I think professor Peterson wants to get in on that yeah well kindness is the excuse that social justice warriors use when they want to exercise control over what other people think and say so you know if we're banding back and forth our differences in values you know I would say that the highest possible value is truth and that one of the concomitant is that is that is that we need stringent protection for freedom of speech so that we can utter the truths that we see fit and I think that that's a value that's much higher than than kindness for example I mean there's lots of situations in life where where kindness in the immediate present is not the appropriate way to react at all but so for example when you discipline children you often hurt their feelings in the short term so that they can learn to behave properly in the medium to long term so that their lives go well and so this automatic assumption that the people on the social justice warrior side of the equation are motivated only by kindness when they're also clearly motivated by power is something I find completely untenable and I don't think that Pete's solution to program my cellphone so that I can remember what names people need to be called is a reasonable solution at all we're actually supposed to now use electronic devices to bolster our ability to speak freely how to cases when someone is it so difficult to remember a pronoun you remember somebody's first name you remember their telephone number I mean I think that I don't remember people's names very easily and I don't remember their telephone numbers very easily and when I see a stranger I call them by the pronoun that seems to be in accordance with their presented appearance so that's they appear that way or them that's you being lazy I think there's a very high value that we should also be aiming for in addition to truth by the way through about this whole controversy I have told the truth at every turn so you know trying to imply that that's not what's happening on people on the social justice amaya social justice warrior I don't know but I think that we should be aiming for pluralism this means recognizing more than one set of fundamental principles fostering independent cultural traditions of minorities and being willing to share power with people who are different than you I think if you just stop centering this whole controversy on yourself and how hard it is for you to accommodate genderqueer people well have a little bit of sympathy I mean those of us who are trans encounter much more greater and dignities every day and every week of the month for example have you recently had a bank employee accuse you of trying to masquerade as yourself at a bank and then locking down your ATM card and credit cards so that you can't use any money those are the sorts of problems that trans people face every day being out of housing being considered you know considering suicide these are really big problems my refusal to pronet to use pronouns because left-wing activists want me to use them has nothing to do with whether or not trans people are having difficulties in society and I'd also like to point out that I've had many letters of support I've had many letters of support from trans people and they tell me that the trans the trans activists don't support them and most trans people actually wanted to be referred to as he or she doesn't mean they were my friends I'm transphobic they were to know a few people just because you've told I didn't you know those people you you don't know the trans community like the trans community does you've got no idea what the trans offense rรกpida trends professor I'm sorry to interrupt let's let's let Professor Peterson finish his thought please all right so the trans activists aren't aren't proper representatives of the trans community because they haven't been elected by the trans community there are the other noises in the Jordan I'm not speaking for anyone except myself and on behalf of other people perhaps who want to use who want to maintain the right to free speech I'm not claiming that I'm a representative of white people or white man or any other group I'm speaking on behalf of myself and so I'm not taking but no sir professor Peter so let me jump in there though because we have seen an evolution of language there are words that we don't use non-white legislation well legislation or not are words that have evolved we don't use for example I'm Asian I would bristle someone called me oriental that is an evolution of how we use words how is this different weather legislated or not was great iron registration I just know it said if I understand legislatively but if at the heart of it is to allow a student to study free of what they feel is discrimination why not help that along I already made my case for why not help that alone I believe that this legislation is extraordinarily dangerous and there's other elements of it too that we haven't even got to in our society yet like the protection for gender expression and I've looked at gender expression in the Ontario Human Rights Code and as far as I can tell gender expression is best summarized in a single word fashion because it's the way that you present yourself in in public with your clothing in your manner of dress and so I also think that the legislation that we are bringing forth with bill c16 and that's already in place in places like Ontario also makes deposit makes fashion criticism something akin to a hate crime and because there's been so much noise about the identity component of this we haven't even talked about gender expression this is appalling legislation and the idea that referring to someone by the pronoun of their choice is going to radically improve their status in society or their mental health is a completely unproven assumption I think it'll have exactly the opposite effect professor when I professor Pete I want to ask you because it's been brought up a couple of times too professor Peterson's point if the what this was so popular if this was so needed there would be a natural evolution there wouldn't be need for legislation why the need for for legislating this as opposed to allowing it to evolve naturally well bill sixteen C sixteen and the Ontario Human Rights Code do not actually legislate pronoun usage they don't specify thirty one genders or anything of the kind but let me jump in though the university is essentially telling at this point it's human human resources people to use alternate pronouns in a way legislating their staff to do this no way the legislation or the legislation also requires the university made clear their concordance with that that assumption on my part by mentioning in the letter that asked me to silence myself that I'm required to act in in accordance with the provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Act and so the University no full well that the legislation does precisely what I suggest it does it's not written precisely in bill C 16 it's written in the Ontario Human Rights Code and if you read the Ontario Human Rights Commission policies on such things you'll see very rapidly that utilization of preferred pronouns is part of the legislative package so that's just excellent is region to slash in Jordan you will find out that they're actually called correct pronouns there's there's no preference about this there is no material there is any on terrorism there is on the Ontario Human Rights Commission website where the policies laid out and if people don't believe that they can just go look themselves professor Peet when you hear that this is a free speech issue that you hear professor Peterson in this case essentially saying that he doesn't want to be legislated to adopt new language what's your response to that well I share a number of Jordans concerns about freedom of speech and academic freedom on campus these are both very very important principles and they should apply regardless of what kind of politics you like for example if you're a left winger or a right winner or an up when you're a down winner or whatever it is but you know the reason why we have laws that protect academic freedom and freedom of speech is primarily to prevent government interference in individuals lives in their business it's they're really mostly to protect against a form of structural violence and they were these these free speech laws were actually never intended to be used as all purpose accountability shields you know so that you don't have to be held accountable for your actions I'm perfectly willing to be held accountable for my actions and the university has already indicated the seriousness with which they view my actions and I also do not believe that free speech laws were there to protect to to regulate violence free speech laws are there because we use free speech to identify problems in our society generate solutions to the problems and then reach a consensus so freedom of speech is actually that is is protection for the mechanism by which our individuals and society properly orient themselves across time it's not it's not even a principle it's the fundamental method by which our societies manage to maintain the stability that they do maintain and so on it's one of the ways we do that yes well I would say that it's the fundamental way so and I mean I think we could have a reasonable discussion about that but because freedom of speech is so tightly tangled up with with our the means by which we solve problems I mean I think you know and then I talk but I get corrected when I speak publicly and the fact that I'm being corrected constantly by the people that I'm speaking with helps orient my speech properly and helps orient public discussion properly and and I can tell you too that if there wasn't something absolutely vital at stake here that had a lot more to do more than to do than with just simple kindness there wouldn't have been millions of people watching for example the assault that took place during the free speech rally that was held a few days after I released the video which I see that CBC conveniently omitted to include in their video clips at the beginning of this interview well professor Peterson we would do we do want to thank you or sorry we're at a time here but I want to thank both of you for joining us today that is the University of Toronto professors Jordan Peterson and aw Pete talking about what has become a very big controversy at the University of Toronto and beyond
Channel: CBC News
Views: 1,789,587
Rating: 4.7543159 out of 5
Keywords: CBC News, CBCNews, CBC broadcasting media, public broadcasting, news, Canadian News, Canadian Broadcasting Corportation (TV network), CBC News Network, debate, gender pronouns, gender, alternative, pronouns, free speech, Toronto, University of Toronto, professors, Jordan Peterson, A.W. Peet
Id: SiijS_9hPkM
Channel Id: undefined
Length: 16min 42sec (1002 seconds)
Published: Sat Oct 29 2016
Reddit Comments

I don't share all of Peterson's views about the use of "preferred pronouns", I don't have any issue referring to someone in the manner they chose.

I do, however, agree that putting legislation in place which means that mis-genderring someone, with a pronoun that differs from one they identify with, whether that be intentional or not, becomes descrimonation and a form of hate-crime, that you can be held legally accountable for, is terrifying.

๐Ÿ‘๏ธŽ︎ 52 ๐Ÿ‘ค๏ธŽ︎ u/nz_Nacho ๐Ÿ“…๏ธŽ︎ Oct 30 2016 ๐Ÿ—ซ︎ replies
๐Ÿ‘๏ธŽ︎ 14 ๐Ÿ‘ค๏ธŽ︎ u/ryan-a ๐Ÿ“…๏ธŽ︎ Oct 30 2016 ๐Ÿ—ซ︎ replies

What's wrong with 'he' and 'she'? Why must people be expected to use new words like 'ze'?

Let's say we recognise trans people as someone who identifies as female (or male). Why or how does 'ze' (or the rest of the 31 pronouns) come into this? If you're wanting to be accepted as female..surely you'd want to be addressed as a female (i.e. 'she')? How does making a new pronoun make you feel more accepted? It's almost the opposite - you're creating an entirely new word specifically for the purpose of differentiating between people who are and aren't trans...seems to contradict the goal?

Seems very confusing

๐Ÿ‘๏ธŽ︎ 13 ๐Ÿ‘ค๏ธŽ︎ u/kiwiposter ๐Ÿ“…๏ธŽ︎ Oct 31 2016 ๐Ÿ—ซ︎ replies

I'm not storing your pronoun next to your name in my phone. Correct me if you prefer him or her, anything else you get they.

๐Ÿ‘๏ธŽ︎ 7 ๐Ÿ‘ค๏ธŽ︎ u/unbenned ๐Ÿ“…๏ธŽ︎ Oct 31 2016 ๐Ÿ—ซ︎ replies

Using the pronouns that someone has asked you to use isn't any more of an "imposition" on you than using their correct name. It's not brain surgery.

There are plenty of things out there that are threats to free speech. Allowing persecuted groups some minimal protections from being harassed by clueless zealots is hardly a threat to our society. More importantly it represents far less of a threat than the harassment it proscribes.

๐Ÿ‘๏ธŽ︎ 7 ๐Ÿ‘ค๏ธŽ︎ u/wesley_wyndam_pryce ๐Ÿ“…๏ธŽ︎ Oct 30 2016 ๐Ÿ—ซ︎ replies

What do the special snowflakes have against 'they'?

๐Ÿ‘๏ธŽ︎ 3 ๐Ÿ‘ค๏ธŽ︎ u/ryan-a ๐Ÿ“…๏ธŽ︎ Oct 30 2016 ๐Ÿ—ซ︎ replies

Dude just doesn't believe in non-binary genders and makes up whatever shit he wants to justify treating those people badly because of it.

๐Ÿ‘๏ธŽ︎ 1 ๐Ÿ‘ค๏ธŽ︎ u/Calalamity ๐Ÿ“…๏ธŽ︎ Oct 30 2016 ๐Ÿ—ซ︎ replies
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