One of the strangest recent developments in western cultural dialogue has been freedom of speech warriors who see even the most reasonable restrictions on speech as egregious.
Primarily younger white men, these so-called ‘free-speech activists’ believe there should be free speech without restriction or consequence. In principle, not a bad idea but in practice speech is limited, potentially by your employer, potentially by the government. These restrictions are meant to be reasonable.
As someone who grew up watching South Park in the late-90’s I value free speech, especially when it pushes the edge of socially acceptable. That breeds dialogue. Here’s where I draw my line though when your speech incites violence, hatred, is slander or negates another human’s existence, that’s too far.
Also while you have the right to your opinion, nowhere does it say that if your opinion is considered abhorrent and incorrect that there aren’t consequences. People might call you an asshole, for example.
Case and point, the University of Toronto’s poster boy for normalizing hatred, Jordan Peterson, a tenured professor who rose to fame after refusing to use non-binary pronouns with non-binary students and faculty. He has since gone on to cry about persecution at the hands of a feminist, trans, Marxist, intelligentsia because people told him he was wrong and should be fired.
And the right-wing calls us snowflakes………..
He should be fired, he’s a bigot using his platform at the U of T on their intuitional credibility to attack those he does not agree with. His most recent issue has been a proposed website running an algorithm of sorts that would identify so-called ‘Marxist’ elements in academia, publicly shame them in the hopes of repercussions.
Recently Peterson uninvited Faith Goldy from a panel on free speech because she appeared in a neo-Nazi podcast. In case you forgot or didn’t know, Goldy was let go from Canadian Brietbart equivalent, The Rebel, after defending neo-nazis during the Charlottesville fiasco.
So even Peterson places limits on the speech he will accept.
Should Peterson be allowed to think and say the things he does? Well, no one can stop him. Should he be guaranteed a platform? Fuck no.
So who takes his platform away?
Peterson and his alt-right compadres don’t believe trans or non-binary people exist. To them we have a mental illness, we are delusional, we are liars, and they will not hear us. So whose job is it to change or fix this situation?
Wanna jump in here?
Peterson makes $500,000 in donations alone. He has become the rallying person for anti-trans and non-binary hatred in Canada. He and his ilk devalue me and my ilk out of hand, they will not listen to us but allies apparently do listen to us.
When you hear Peterson talk, replace his references to gender identity, with religious affiliation, ability or disability, or skin colour. You’ll notice his opinions are generally unacceptable but because he is targeting non-binary and trans people he is invited to be on panel discussions, has a protected job at a major Canadian university and is generally given a strong platform to preach from.
This isn’t our fight – we exist whether Peterson or his Nazi friends on the alt-right think we do. This fight is only happening because cis society has devalued trans and non-binary lives for so long that hateful views are still tolerated and normalized.
If you value our existence, defend us, whether we’re in the room or not.