Twelve Rules For Not Being A Total Free Speech Hypocrite

from the yes,-we-mean--you-peterson dept

I have to say that I’ve never received so many earnest and detailed–but super angry–emails as I did after my article earlier this year calling out Jordan Peterson’s obvious hypocrisy for claiming to fight for free speech, while suing a university for “defamation” over the speech of some of its staff members. So many very, very earnest young men, really, really wanted to debate the finer points of how suing over speech could magically lead to more free speech. Again, to be clear: I thought that what Wilfrid Laurier University did in punishing a teaching assistant for showing a video clip of Peterson was completely asinine and the university and its staff deserved all of the ridicule it got.

The lawsuit, however, was another story altogether. Beyond it being a completely obvious SLAPP suit — using defamation to try to silence someone — there were all sorts of weird conflicts of interest (it was filed by the same lawyer representing the teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd, and as some have pointed out, Shepherd and Peterson are clearly in conflict with one another over this, since it was Shepherd who actually “published” the negative comments about Peterson by posting them in a video). But the key point is that it’s blatant hypocrisy to sue someone for criticizing you while basing a large part of your persona on being about freedom of speech. Indeed, much of Peterson’s claim to fame was in loudly protesting a proposed law in Canada that he claimed would be an attack on his own free speech.

Since then, however, Peterson only seems to be doubling and tripling down on his attacks on free speech. A few weeks ago he filed a second lawsuit against Wilfrid Laurier University arguing (I kid you not) that the University’s own defense to his original lawsuit defamed him again because it claimed that he benefited from the press attention around the controversy (rather than harming him, as required to be defamation). This seems even more ridiculous than his original lawsuit. Canada, like the US, has absolute privilege in judicial proceedings, meaning you can’t claim defamation for things said in the course of ongoing litigation. But, apparently Peterson is going to ignore that.

Then, even more recently, the Cut revealed that Peteron threatened to sue Cornell University professor Kate Manne after she criticized his book in an interview with Vox. Specifically, she called his work misogynistic, which is a clear statement of opinion (and done so based on disclosed facts). But, no matter, she still received a threat letter:

In letters to Manne, Cornell, and Vox, Peterson?s lawyer, Howard Levitt, demanded that all three parties ?immediately retract all of Professor Manne?s defamatory statements, have them immediately removed from the internet, and issue an apology in the same forum to Mr. Peterson. Otherwise, our client will take all steps necessary to protect his professional reputation, including but not limited to initiating legal proceedings against all of you for damages.?

As the Cut article makes clear, these threats are utterly bogus, and appear to be attempts to chill speech that criticizes Peterson. Indeed, the Cut notes that this is all even more ironic, given that Manne actually engages pretty thoughtfully with Peterson’s ideas, rather than dismissing them wholesale as many others have. As Peterson claims to be a supporter of the give and take debate of free speech, it’s blatantly hypocritical of him to then threaten to sue people for fairly tame criticism.

In fact, reading the full threat letter that Peterson’s lawyer sent on his behalf, makes it quite clear just how allergic to “open debate” the apparently “free speech” supporting Peterson appears to be. Multiple statements listed as “defamatory” are so obviously statements of opinion that they include phrases indicating that they are opinion:

  • “I also think…”
  • “I also suspect…”
  • “I believe…”

Manne is clearly expressing her opinions on Peterson’s work. She is critical of Peterson’s ideas, but if you truly believe in the “marketplace of ideas” then you’re supposed to be cool with that — not threaten to sue them.

Also, utterly bizarre is that beyond going after Manne, the letter also threatens to sue the institution where she works, Cornell University (disclosure: also my alma mater) claiming that in Canada “liability can be imputed to employers due to damages caused by their employees and/or officers.” To support this claim, the letter points to John Doe v. Bennett, a Canadian case in which the Roman Catholic Church was found liable for sexual abuse by its clergy. To argue this means a university is somehow liable for defamation because one of its staff members criticized Peterson is quite a stretch.

Oh, and remember, that some of Peterson’s rise to fame was his claim to be taking a principled stand against compelled speech by arguing that a Canadian law would have compelled him to use specific pronouns in addressing people that he felt was a violation of his speech rights. He also has a page on his own website complaining about “perhaps unconstitutional” compelled speech by the Law Society of Upper Canada. And yet, in this letter sent on behalf of free speech warrior Jordan Peterson, his lawyer demands some compelled speech from Manne and Vox in the form of “an apology to Mr. Peterson.” So, apparently taking into consideration a misuse of pronouns in investigating hate crimes (which is actually what the bill Peterson was so upset about was really about) is an unconstitutional form of compelled speech… whereas requiring a public apology for someone being mildly critical of your work is perfectly fine?

To me, that seems like evidence of some fairly blatant hypocrisy, not to mention legal thuggery, which will likely create chilling effects, causing others to shy away from stating their opinions on Peterson’s statements. That may or may not be Peterson’s goal, and at least some of his fans seem to think that silencing criticism is pro-free speech because it allows Peterson’s ideas to spread — but that’s not how it works. Threatening lawsuits and claiming defamation over someone criticizing your ideas is the literal opposite of supporting free speech.

Even if you think it’s cool to create chilling effects for someone who doesn’t want Peterson to speak, you simply are not promoting free speech by silencing critics of free speech. That’s not how it works. At all. Any attempt to completely silence people — even if they’re not fans of your free speech — is still an attempt to stamp out free speech and antithetical to free speech. So, given that so many of Peterson’s avid followers seem to like lists, let’s give you a nice list of twelve rules for not being a total free speech hypocrite:

  1. Speak out when you have an opinion on something.
  2. Express yourself appropriately when you think someone else is incorrect about something.
  3. Recognize that not everyone may agree with your take on things. That’s cool.
  4. There may be consequences to your speech. That’s part of free speech.
  5. Some of those consequences may involve people calling you nasty names. That’s no fun, but it’s still free speech.
  6. Those people are not harming your free speech. They are engaging in it.
  7. Don’t sue or threaten to sue those people for defamation. It makes you look like a hypocritical dipshit.
  8. Don’t then sue again because of their legal response pushing back on your original defamation lawsuit.
  9. Don’t then go screaming at people who call you out as a hypocrite for suing people for criticizing you.
  10. Perhaps try a little introspection and recognize that suing people for criticizing you creates massive chilling effects and is entirely counter to free speech.
  11. If you’re going to insist that others accept your ideas, maybe recognize that you have to accept others’ ideas, even if you disagree with them.
  12. Don’t sue a cat when it hisses at you in the street.

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Comments on “Twelve Rules For Not Being A Total Free Speech Hypocrite”

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Christenson says:

12 Steps....

These steps need re-organizing along the lines of a 12-step program…like the one for Alcoholics Anonymous. We don’t need a higher power for this, but…

1) Recognize that FREE SPEECH means *EVERYONE* is entitled to speak, not just you.

2) Asking the government to “Do Something” about speech is *never* supporting free speech. [Defamation? That’s not about speech, it’s about power…]

Cat Mandu says:

Read the list first, saved much time. I have never sued a cat.

  1. Don’t sue a cat when it hisses at you in the street.

Wow. SAGE ADVICE there. The others are nearly as silly.

How about instead of the 1-12 wacky and difficult to figure out:

A) Common law is the only reliable guide to what’s acceptable. If within, then take NO action. If outside, then REMOVE.

B) Don’t advertise free speech unless mean it FULLY. You cannot exercise "editorial control" in the comments section except as in A.

C) Providing a mechanism in your site’s code for disadvantaging dissent is OUT. Compounding that by LYING that it’s solely "the community" without Administrator approval just confirms.

D) Be FAIR. Letting trolls who support your views run wild is same as hindering "free speech": anyone reasonable is lost in the cacophony.

E) Running pieces extolling free speech, then blatantly violating your own principles on the same, THAT’S unique hypocrisy so bad that has to be called MASNOCRISY.

Cat Mandu says:

Re: Re: Read the list first, saved much time. I have never sued a cat.

It’s sad that you conflate free speech with a blog’s comment section.

Yeah, where the HELL did I get that idea?

Masnick / Techdirt only provide HTML code and invite the whole world to comment, advertise "free speech", write about it all the time as an absolute, wanting any question to be decided in favor of allowing, but HERE the practice is to attack and disadvantage dissent.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Invite

but he is still correct, but be sure to hit that flag button.

Nothing gets more attention then making martyrs out of people.

Why do you think that the extreme lefts and rights are coming out of the wood work? People like YOU are pushing them into those extremes by gaslighting and insulting them every chance you get.

If anyone here needs meds, that would be you. Yes, this is Mike’s site, he can do whatever he wants, but remember what “consequences” are when it comes to speech. No matter what laws/rules you create the consequences eternally remain. The best solution to bad speech is more speech from the opposite direction, not attempts to silence it!

But I can understand why you have a problem with that, because like most people you are assume guilty until proven innocent. Do not worry, your kind will dominate the world again just like they did in the past and more innocent will suffer and you will whine even louder at what you have done while simultaneously refusing to accept that you were responsible for it.

Hypocrisy is the 2nd greatest sin.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Invite

no, I am not either right or left, I share opinions from both sides too much for like either side.

Both are full of shit, just like you!

That’s kinda the problem, you have to be full of shit to be too far right or left, but being centered does not mean you are not full of shit either. So sadly, most people are full of shit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Invite

The best solution to bad speech is more speech from the opposite direction, not attempts to silence it!

This has been and continues to be attempted for a long time now. The problem with your assertion is that all of these attempts fail because the original speaker refuses to hear any dissent to their assertions. They’re firmly entrenched in their beliefs and nothing will dissuade them. Trying to discuss their points is invariably met with insults rather than intelligent discussion.

There’s no doubt why most just flag and ignore. That’s not hypocrisy. It’s a desire not to waste one’s time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Invite

Some minds are like concrete…

Thoroughly mixed up, and permanently set.

I think ALL politicians fall into this category.

So if the solution to bad speech is more speech,
and the courts have said that $ = speech (corporations),
then there is no solution to bad corporate speech (unless you are a billionaire and can afford to ‘out speak/spend’ them).

It’s no wonder we are ending up in the situations we are in, we have let the foxes run the hen house for way too long…

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” seems to be about time for a constitutional convention…

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re: Re: Read the list first, saved much time. I have never sued a cat.

“attack and disadvantage dissent”
No… just the idiots. Of which you are one of. As we have mentioned time and time again, your verbal diarrhea does not get censored nor does it get disadvantaged. Just because your content is disadvantaged and gets appropriately marked is no reflection on the site design.

In fact Muppet, one could argue that the link to view the marked comment actually attracts people.

Funny thing though. I noticed. The hidden comments are almost always from you.

Maybe it’s you Brah. Juss sayin.

Cat Mandu says:

Re: Re: Re: Read the Troll

And by downvoting you to oblivion, we exercise Our free speech – see how that works?

SHEESH. Proud of being a Nazi, are you?

The site providing code for "downvoting" is the only way you win. See how that works?

You are explicitly advocating censorship, have crossed the barrier in own mind to justifying. Don’t complain when happens to you, then.

Talmyr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Read the Troll

There’s disagreeing, and disagreeing. Disagreeing with the absolute content isn’t the same as disagreeing with the portrayal, constant ad homs, and unwillingness to properly discuss issues.

And it’s a form of ‘free speech’ that it can actually be used as a way of expressing disagreement. Of course, a proper ‘downvote’ option would be helpful there, but needs must…

Cat Mandu says:

Re: Re: Read the list first, saved much time. I have never sued a cat.

Oh, dear. The usual simplistic "AC" which stands for Automatic Contradiction — and is clearly a regular, if not an Administrator astro-turfing.

You don’t know what common law is.

WELL, ‘splain it, snowflake! Gainsaying is easy, NOW SHOW.

You don’t know what free speech is.

Oh, I know when DON’T see it, as here. Just false claims of "free speech" when IN FACT can’t stand little bits of text.

You’re still lying.

State one lie. You are only a tactic (notice I don’t mean using) of appearing to answer: astro-turfing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Read the list first, saved much time. I have never sued a cat.

WELL, ‘splain it, snowflake! Gainsaying is easy, NOW SHOW.

Look it up. The rest of us (who care) did.

Oh, I know when DON’T see it, as here. Just false claims of "free speech" when IN FACT can’t stand little bits of text.

There is no "free speech" on a platform not operated by the government. Why is that so hard to grasp?

State one lie. You are only a tactic (notice I don’t mean using) of appearing to answer: astro-turfing.

The 2nd quote above.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Read the list first, saved much time. I have never sued a cat.

You don’t know what common law is.

WELL, ‘splain it, snowflake! Gainsaying is easy, NOW SHOW.


I can explain what the phrase "common law" means. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is that body of law derived from judicial decisions of courts and similar tribunals.

Now, can you explain what the phrase means to YOU, Blue, because it seems to differ from the definition that everyone else in the world uses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Read the list first, saved much time. I have never sued a cat.

Simple request:

Point to three websites that have more open comment sections than Techdirt. There are a few easy criteria to be equally open:

  • They must allow commenting without any kind of account signup
  • They must allow anonymous commenting without providing an email address, and under any pseudonym entered on the fly
  • If they have a reporting/flagging system, it must not result in comments being deleted or being hidden behind a click that require a page-reload, or be removed from the flow of comments – rather, like Techdirt, they must remain in place and be immediately viewable with a single click
Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Read the list first, saved much time. I have never sued a cat.

Common law is the only reliable guide to what’s acceptable.


The more I thought about this statement the more realized how utterly silly it really is.

Free Speech, although being enshrined in our Constitution, is really a product of common law. Two hundred and some odd years of judicial interpretations (or in other words: common law) of the First Amendment have given us the guidelines we have today.

So I guess when Blue says "Common law is the only reliable guide to what’s acceptable" he’s actually kind of correct, but I’m guessing that’s not what he meant. To Blue "common law" is some sort of mystical phrase that means "stuff he agrees with or doesn’t offend him".

allengarvin (profile) says:

Re: Read the list first, saved much time. I have never sued a cat.

A) REALLY suspicious of anyone who says this. Do you know the history of common law? It was so cruel that in the 18th century hundreds of crimes resulted in the death penalty. The courts of chancery were introduced to grant some small, very small measures of leniency.

And, there is no federal common law. Federal law derives exclusively from the constitution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Having never actually paid attention to Petersen, when I heard about who he was I ambled on over to wikipedia and took a look at their description of controversies.

By and large it looked like a bunch of hooey. “Oh, no, he said political correctness was bad? That it’s being abused as a bludgeon to silence people rather than a shield to defend vulnerable groups?”
Well, that about matches my perception of (some) of what’s going on these days. Cool, he seems like he has his head screwed on straight.

That was years ago.
Having been reminded that he exists and filled in on what his activities have been like since then, I have to admit it sounds like my initial glance was inadequate diligence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That just makes you a blithering fucking moron. Let go straight to Godwin for effect here.

If Obama told you to jump off a Cliff would you?
How about if Hitler told you to jump off a Cliff?

By the time you are reading this line you will have “consciously” wondered if Obama had a good reason for asking this while Hitler would obviously have an evil reason for asking this.

Truth is truth, no matter the character of the person uttering it. This is why people like you get fooled so often because you love the honey that lies bring so much that you will never have room in you belly for a drop of truth. If it does not taste sweet going down you won’t swallow it, but all the while you bitch endlessly about how much your belly aches… which is why they call it bellyaching in the first place.

Lies taste sweet but are bitter in the belly, while Truth tastes bitter, but warm in the belly!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

No, you missed the point, let me explain how.

He said they were “contemptible” in a way that imply that because they are, they should not be listened too even if they have good things to say.

“I think Bill Cosby’s bit on the ridiculous roads in San Francisco is timeless and accurate.”

This is tantamount to the “I am not a racist, but…” right before they say something racist.

In all things, listen to words being said… judge not the source, but the merit of the words on their own. Truly remove the messenger from the equation entirely. If you cannot do that then you get what this guy wrote. Someone whom is detestable being disregarded, regardless of the truth of their words.

I have seen this trick and gimmick before. Kinda like a doctor that says this won’t hurt a bit…

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Actually, its the opposite:

The AC noted that the message expressed by Cosby in his famous bit on San Francisco roads is not invalidated by the AC’s disgust for Cosby as a person. In other words, the statement remains valid when separated from the author.

I disagree that the source can not be considered however. For instance, if a youtube video has a moment where the creator describes their love for Pepsi over Coke, the value of that message changes if those lines are compensated for by Pepsi. In this, no matter how genuine the words, the message is not an entirely genuine endorsement, but a paid for endorsement and we can no longer separate the message from the reason it was expressed.

zippy says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Not entirely on topic but since Cosby was already brought up, I just thought I’d mention that the prosecution’s star witness actually admitted at the trial that she was never raped. It’s not the first time a colored man has been railroaded by false accusations of such behavior, and it you do a little research, you’ll find that the woman’s family hates black people and was using him to hurt them. Also, just before this entire controversy began, Cosby tried to buy NBC. But those against him – mainly rich white men – didn’t want a man of color to have that much power. So they orchestrated a media campaign to discredit him with false accusations. You’ll find if you dig that not one of the womens’ testimonies holds up under scrutiny, and that many of them were already known liars or cons by the time this began and that they simply saw a way to get easy money. Not to mention the prosecution has ignored and superseded the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments in their quest for his head, not to mention breaking the law by bypassing the statute of limitations. It ism’t justice, it’s mob justice. Just because the media says someone is guilty of something doesn’t mean they are. Don’t let them dictate what you believe. Do your own research.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Well, I did some google searching, and while some news headlines suggest that one of the witnesses made up the claim, the body of the articles clarifies that the meaning is that the memoir was “made up” – there were inconsistencies between the memoir version and the version of events expressed on the stand, and the witness notes that in the memoir, she wasn’t under oath and intentionally sanitized the memoir account at her publishers behest. Hardly admitting to not being raped.

I’d love some citations on the legal analysis of constitutional abuses, of which of the 5 testimonies were by known lairs and how that was established, and how the statute of limitations was bypassed. “Do your own research”? No. You are the one making claims. You can cite your sources. It is not my failure that I do not review your specific sources.

Additionally, You don’t know anything about me. If you did, you’d know I had serious concerns at the outset of the Cosby trial due to the treatment of the accusation as the verdict. Moreover, I made, in my comments, no personal claims about my own views of Cosby, only highlighting that the comments I replied to characterized statements of another. Directing this rant at me, rather than the commentator who expressed issues with Cosby would have been far more on point.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That’s like…the opposite of what I’m saying. If Hitler said that beef Chinese noodles are awesome, I would agree with Hitler on a point while also finding him to be the awful person we (mostly) all understand him to have been.

I’m not saying blindly accept 100% things that are said by people I like. I’m saying people being awful doesn’t make them 100% wrong about everything ever forever amen. In the OP’s case, it’s possible to agree with the guy’s fundamental ideals and also find him hypocritical for throwing those out when his feelings are hurt.

Cat Mandu says:

Watch this be filled with editorial warnings of "dangerous!"

As always here at Techdirt, "free speech" will become EXCEPT FOR YOU WHO DISAGREE. Already one up there.

That’s what Techdirt has become, Masnick. You stepped over the line by starting to "hide" comments and now your fanboys just clutter the site with off-topic ad hom solely trying to hide / stop any other notions than yours.

By the way, I’m reminded that Techdirt has blocked my home IP address so that I must use TOR, and "average_joe" stated that too.

So, just another false "free speech" piece when in fact you’re unable to bear little bits of totally mild text in dissent. — While again, fanboys are NEVER reprimanded.

Rocky says:

Re: Watch this be filled with editorial warnings of "dangerous!"

From the post you have made I wouldn’t call your contributions "disagreeing". You call everyone that doesn’t agree with your particular worldview for idiot, stupid, nazi, fanboi, snowflake, hypocrite etc.

You entire tone suggests that you believe yourself to be superior to everyone else. In other words, people think you are an a-hole and they will – surprise! – treat you as such.

Anonymous Coward says:


How does it not surprise me that TD is a Peterson hater.

The only think you silly folks care about is everyone repeating the same mantra and dogma.

Peterson is not being hypocritical, you are just too flipping stupid to understand what he is doing, but that is not a shocker for TD where the bar for intelligence is so low that Nike uses them as shoe sizes.

Peterson is on record as stating that he is against “compelled speech” he said nothing about being against certain types of speech. He is clearly against defamation for example.

It’s not like you buffoons have the intellectual capacity to grasp this, which is probably why you got so many mean emails about it.

Life is hard, it’s harder when you are stupid! Stupid like Mike!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Ahh...

Tell me, if you are in court suing someone for defamation, how would you plan to force them to retract their statements if they lost against you? Any attempt to force them to retract is compelled speech too! Apparently for you, it’s okay to not force people to recant disprovable lies because that’s bad if you are against “compelled speech”.

This is not the same type of “compelled speech” being discusses and you know it. How are people dumb as you able to function?

Do you know what else is compelled speech? Truth in Advertising laws. I am against compelled speech too, but I support Truth in Advertising laws… and you know what. A smart person would figure out what I meant by that… but apparently not a blither knob like yourself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ahh...

You are aware that Peterson has explained why he is suing them right? You don’t have agree with this reasons, but they are sufficient enough to recuse him of hypocrisy. The problem is that you are not intelligent enough to understand this.

Look, you can be stupid if you like, I can’t stop you, all I can do is point it out. It’s up to you to change it.

Jordan is not after them for their “opinions” he is after them for their lies that are harming other people. There really is a difference… well unless for someone like you that probably believes a few of those lies.

The problem with Peterson for you is that he is right and you are wrong and if there is one thing you lefties cannot stand… is the truth.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Ahh...

Loves free speech and open dialogue, sues someone over some criticism and demands they apologize.

That’s all the “evidence” and “proof” I need, thanks.

To quote someone who definitely thinks of themselves as one of history’s greatest minds: “People do not have to be aware they are hypocrites to be one.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Ahh...

Peterson is not suing over the criticism aspects, he is suing over the factually disprovable aspects, there is a difference.

If he only seeks an apology, it seems like a low bar but if that is the only example he seeks then so be it, it’s his lawsuit he can make any attempt at restitution he seeks, he just needs to convince a judge of it as well.

“That’s all the “evidence” and “proof” I need, thanks.”

If you were not lying and misrepresenting the situation I would agree with you if Peterson was clearly suing over nothing more than criticism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Ahh...

Lets start here.

a) “I also think the way Peterson cherry-picked the few more dignified-sounding sentences from the diary of one of the Columbine killers, Eric Harris, was downright dishonest.”

Depending on Canda’s libel law which I am no expert, this may not be the same as saying they think Peterson is dishonest, for the same reason Canada had to create an actual law that states people apologizing to people is no admission of guilt.

That sentence says they think the WAY Peterson did it WAS dishonest so depending on how that is interpreted legally it could be understood as as a factual claim that Peterson is lying.

b) “I also suspect that for many of Peterson’s readers, the sexism on display above is one tool among many to make forceful, domineering moves that are typical of misogyny.”

The sentence between the commas is a clear declaration/accusation of sexism. This means that there could be opportunity in Canada’s legal code for libel or slander.

I am going to cut to the specifics now.
C) “…This suggestion is classic, straight-up misogyny.”

D) is all supposition being stated as though it is fact.

E) “…cruel things.”

F) “gaslit by her therapist”… does she have a therapist or are they making the claim that she is in therapy without knowing the truth?

G) “skepticism about objective facts” there is no such think as objective facts. They are making claims that do not exist.

Now, I will agree that they are defamatory… but it is up to the courts interpretation of the “Libel and Slander Act” to find if they are illegal defamatory accusations in Canada.

You clowns need to remember that Canada has a different definition of free speech. I don’t agree with Canada but you all are conflating your “American” understanding of freedom of speech with Canada’s.

And also, I am not making the claim that Peterson is NOT a hypocrite just that there is not enough proof as being put forth here. But it will not stop you hypocrites from going to town on it either way.

Now, on a principled level, there is no such thing as a human that is not a hypocrite, there is none of us that walks clean. But there is no evidence here that Jordan is being one based on conflating TD’s understanding of their Idea of freedom of speech vs Canada or Jordan’s version of freedom of speech.

I have listened to enough of Peterson to know that I don’t agree with everything he says, but I also do not know enough about “his” or “canada’s” version of “freedom of speech” to know if he is being hypocritical.

If you make a claim about someone you cannot backup and proof then you could be guilty of libel, that is also true in America and there is only so much wiggle room you get to have in how you make your claims against others.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:14 Ahh...

No, my idea of freedom of speech is definitely different than Jordan’s or TD’s.

I follow the 1st explicitly. You can say whatever the fuck you like about anyone, unless it is a provable lie. Which is why the burden of proving that a defamation is a lie is the burden of the accuser. Now, Jordan has to prove they are lying, or whatever proof the Canadian courts require.

But this does not mean that Peterson is a hypocrite, he has to do something that is contrary to his stated beliefs as “HE” states them… not necessarily as “TD” believes them.

We need Peterson’s definition of “freedom of speech” to know. So far all I have heard is that “Peterson is against Compelled speech by the government”. This is not proof of Peterson being a hypocrite because as you all know… once you break the law, you lose certain rights and privileges as part of that punishment and that could be “compelled speech” as a result. The speech that might be compelled as a punishment for breaking the law is NOT the same as speech being compelled from a law saying you have to say this guilty or not. And Leigh is just too fucking dumb to understand that!

The principle is simple, Jordan is against speech compelled by legislature, he did not say he is against speech compelled by judicial ruling as part of a punishment being handed out, and neither does it prove he is a hypocrite on these merits alone.

It only proves that Peterson is not as “pro-freedom of speech” as others.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:15 Ahh...

So far all I have heard is that "Peterson is against Compelled speech by the government". This is not proof of Peterson being a hypocrite because as you all know… once you break the law, you lose certain rights and privileges as part of that punishment and that could be "compelled speech" as a result. The speech that might be compelled as a punishment for breaking the law is NOT the same as speech being compelled from a law saying you have to say this guilty or not. And Leigh is just too fucking dumb to understand that!

Well, you are correct that I do not understand what the fuck you just said. As to whose dumbness is to blame, I suppose I’ll leave that to each reader to decide for themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Ahh...

I suppose that if one is a hypocrite but is “just too flipping stupid to understand what he is doing” then technically they are not a hypocrite – but the words uttered are still hypocritical even though the author is “just too flipping stupid to understand what he is doing” to realize it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Ahh...

Incorrect, a hypocrite is not required to KNOW/ANKNOWLEDGE they are being hypocritical.

Look at definition #2.
“a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings”

For example, people that believe in “evolution” but also “universal healthcare”. If evolution is true then we must allow the weak to die so that evolution can continue to allow humans to evolve. Interfering with that mechanism will result in an increase in the pollution of the gene pool.

People do not have to be aware they are hypocrites to be one.

Jordan could very well be a hypocrite, but I have not seen enough evidence to convince me of it. However I have seen more than enough evidence to believe that TD is hypocritical.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Ahh...

For example, people that believe in "evolution" but also "universal healthcare". If evolution is true then we must allow the weak to die so that evolution can continue to allow humans to evolve. Interfering with that mechanism will result in an increase in the pollution of the gene pool.

Bwahahaha oh man please tell me you are just a troll, and that Petersonianism doesn’t actually make people this stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ahh...

Not a troll, but I am not a follower of Peterson, either. I formed my opinions and ideas long before the world learned of this person.

I just think he is far more intelligent than a monkey like yourself.

And what I stated is a verifiable provable fact. It’s not really an opinion, whether evolution is true or false. The more people that are saved by science with genetic diseases the higher the chance that they will reproduce and create more humans with these genetic defects. Are you saying that is not true? Because you just called me stupid for saying that. The only thing you revealed is how stupid you are!

This is not opinion, it is just a fucking fact!

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Ahh...

Yes, and curing some skins to wear prevents people from dying for not growing enough fur, as they rightly should, y’know? Farming has stopped us from selecting only for the best gatherers and letting the rest starve. And don’t get me started on how nine out of ten babies are SUPPOSED to die of childhood illnesses, but those damn liberals are like "oh boo-hoo no! we want fewer dead babies, let’s eradicate measles". Snowflakes.

All of civilization was a mistake! You’ve really taken Peterson’s lobster philosophy to the extreme.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Ahh...

This is why you are a fucking moron. Just because I recognize the fact that using science to save people help pollute the gene pool does not mean that I support that.

But I noticed that you did not hesitate to jump to a whole bunch of conclusions.

And I have already stated, I am not a follower of Peterson. Just the fact that he is far more intelligent than you and happens to have a lot more followers.

that must piss you off huh?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Ahh...

Dimwit, I don’t believe in evolution. So I am obviously okay with helping people survive while simultaneously looking at the “Church of Evolution” zealots and wonder why they don’t let evolution happen naturally since they “believe” in it so much.

I am also able to recognize the fact that you are a moron despite hoping that you would stop being one. See how that works?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Ahh...

Okay, moron, that is a statement of Opinion. It is your pathetic ability to read coupled with your dogmatic religion of evolution that causes you think that was a statement of “Scientific Fact”.

do you see the word “fact” his statement? Notice how he avoids the usage of that word? For him it only makes sense to “believe” in evolution because of what he sees in biology but to think that he sees all and knows everything about biology is abject stupidity.

I reuse a lot of computer code, does that make it evolutionary? to someone without enough information it will look like it! Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic to the ignorant.

Biology is very advanced, we understand more than we used to but we still understand very little. We are still working on technology to see what is physically going on inside of a cell at a mechanical level.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Ahh...

I made no such claim you blasted fucking moron. I only said that if you believe in evolution then you are not living up to that believe. It does not imply that it is in “direct” conflict just that it is provable that saving people with genetic disorder increases their chance of reproducing and introducing more genetic disorders into the gene pool.

Science might find a way to cure that too, eliminating that that as a contention, but until then…

The one thing I can count on at TD is that there is no end to the number of morons frequenting the site.

There is one thing I am guilty of and that is casting pearls of wisdom before swine. If tell you guys one thing you quickly twist it to mean something else.

I don’t agree with evolution, I do agree with saving as many people as morally possible.

aethercowboy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Ahh...

Your evolution analogy is flawed on so many levels.

1. You cannot have a “belief” in something that has sufficient empirical evidence to prove or disprove its existence. That would be like saying “I believe that 2 + 2 = 5” or “I believe that 2 + 2 = 4”. Either it’s true, or it isn’t. As with metaphysical things, these are inherently unprovable, and thus, can be believed: unicorns, fairies, Odin, etc.

2. Assuming for the sake of argument that evolution is an empirically provable fact (your quotes indicate that you may not agree with this statement otherwise), then it’s likely that humans have also been selecting for compassion for as long as we’ve been living in groups. Therefore, a human who believes that survival of the fittest is desirable, and also believes that everybody should be afforded health care, may be unable to act on the former, and choose the latter, because compassion.

3. Further, the ideas of evolution are about the propagation of a species (or, perhaps a gene, if you believe what Dawkins has to say), and therefore, it’s perfectly reasonable that someone who considers the evolutionary ramifications of things will also appreciate keeping other members of their species alive.

4. One could also argue that advances in medical science are an evolutionary step in humanity. Therefore, where do we draw the line between what is human evolution and what is just being silly and helping people otherwise live?

5. You’re also not considering the fact that most people don’t actually care enough about evolution enough to hold the tenants of survival of the fittest to be a major guiding principle of their lives.

Don’t you find it to be silly that the people who don’t believe in evolution also don’t believe in universal healthcare? If evolution is false, then it’s on us (and decreed by many of our gods) to help other people, especially those that aren’t good contributors to the gene pool.

Baron von Robber says:

Re: Re: Re: Ahh...

“For example, people that believe in “evolution” but also “universal healthcare”. If evolution is true then we must allow the weak to die so that evolution can continue to allow humans to evolve. Interfering with that mechanism will result in an increase in the pollution of the gene pool.”

I don’t believe in evolution. The evidence supporting it is so overwhelming, no belief system is needed.

No believing in evolution doesn’t mean the weak should die. If anything, evolution shows that if there is a really bad day, variation helps the species survive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ahh...

“I don’t believe in evolution. The evidence supporting it is so overwhelming, no belief system is needed.”

When you choose to believe a “theory” as though it is science fact like that then you are involved in a “belief” whether you like it or not.

“No believing in evolution doesn’t mean the weak should die.”

I did not say that, no matter what I state you morons keep twisting shit up because lies are your only avenue of challenge.

There is a big difference between saying “the weak should die” and “the weak should be allowed to die”. The reason it is said that way is because if you actually “believe” in evolution then you factually take a risk of condemning humans to extinction if you work against evolution. The reason it is wrong to say “the weak should die” is because that implies you know what weak is and you don’t. Evolution decides that based on a range of dynamic things. Additionally, now that we are interfering in evolution, intelligent design is now at play, especially since we are beginning gene splicing and editing.

“If anything, evolution shows that if there is a really bad day, variation helps the species survive.”

Potentially, but there is also a really good day. Evolution is not just superior genes, it is also luck of the draw. If a genetically superior species did occur but was eaten while it was still just an egg then is evolution “truly” survival o the fittest? Or is is just survival of the Lucky and we are assuming that genetics even play a significant role in this when it could only be mostly minor. There are only so many improvements genetics can make on your survival odds if you are subject to an apex predator.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Ahh...

Also that’s a really less-than-basic understanding of the idea of ‘survival of the fittest’. Another way to think of it is nature’s confirmation bias. The one’s that survived were the fittest to survive.

In your example, there could have been a mutation that allowed something to better survive the hostile environment, but the egg was eaten. However, say there was a mutation in which the eggs were colored to camouflage themselves in the surrounding environment. Those would have been the fittest to survive, because they managed to avoid being eaten and assumedly went on to reproduce and create more camouflaged eggs.

Or one of the eggs went on to become a creature that innately knew to hide their eggs in trees, and so slowly the species biased itself towards tree-dwelling because more of them survived that way than the previous generations. That species thrived while the original was picked off.

THAT is survival of the fittest. To compare with humanity, we have evolved a level of intelligence that allows our offspring to better survive diseases and once-fatal injuries. Sure it’s an outside factor, but is it really any different than pigs wallowing in mud to stay cool? If not for mud, the pigs would overheat and die. If not for vaccines or other lifesaving techniques, diseases or various internal injuries would prove absolutely fatal. Having overcome those, are they not fit to survive?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 'Gravity is just a theory after all.'

Yeah, anytime I see someone try the ‘Evolution is just a theory‘ trick it’s pretty much a given that they have no idea what they’re talking about.

If it’s a theory, it has facts to back it up.

Not just that but also that it has withstood rigorous testing and attempts to find flaws. There is nothing higher than theory in science, that is what every fledgling idea/hypothesis, were they capable of thought, would aspire to be.

Shufflepants says:

Re: Re: Re: Ahh...

Newton’s theory of gravity describes how an apple will fall from a tree, it doesn’t tell us we should be dropping apples on people’s heads.

Einstein’s theory of general relativity describes how black holes will form. It doesn’t mean we should be doing anything to help make them.

Germ theory describes how diseases spread, it doesn’t say we should just do nothing and let them spread.

It’s the same with evolution. Do you know the difference between "descriptive" and "prescriptive". Evolution as a theory is just a description of what did, is, and will happen on the general whole, not a prescription of what we should do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ahh...

“not a prescription of what we should do.”

I did not imply that we should do anything specific… I said we should let things play out without overtly interfering in a way that could run counter to evolution.

but I don’t believe in evolution, I fully support saving as many lives as possible. Just saying that those whom do, are the one running contrary to a belief they hold. It does not matter if you like it or not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Ahh...

Oh I get it. You’re a religious nutter home schooled middle schooler doing an extra credit assignment that involves arguing with the heathens. Because no adult would be so absolutely brain damaged as to conflate a social program like healthcare and a basic biological fact like evolution. Here’s hoping your graduation is attended by more that your grandparents and your absentee dad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ahh...

No what is nutter is to claim that evolution is a biological fact. The best you can do is natural selection and that is not evolution. People are just trying to conflate natural selection with evolution to try to fluff up evolution.

Evolution has turned into a religion, and that is sad because that is unscientific.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Ahh...

Natural selection is not evolution, of course. Evolution is a combination of mutation and survival over time. Now if you want to get into the nitty-gritty then sure you can argue with macro evolution until the cows come home, but micro evolution is just a matter of course at this point. Arguing against it is like arguing which side of the planet the sun comes from; it’s missing the point entirely.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Ahh...

You’re just an evil shit aren’t you?
“For example, people that believe in “evolution” but also “universal healthcare”. If evolution is true then we must allow the weak to die so that evolution can continue to allow humans to evolve. Interfering with that mechanism will result in an increase in the pollution of the gene pool.”

Matthew Cline (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ahh...

Interfering with that mechanism will result in an increase in the pollution of the gene pool.

1) Wouldn’t that require a utilitarian moral system? I’m not a utilitarian, so I’m not going to let the ends justify the means.

2) Even if I was a utilitarian, why would decreasing the number of people with genetic diseases necessarily increase total happiness? Why would using medicine to keep them alive lead to less total happiness? Or are you saying that a utilitarian, for some reason, would try to maximize gene pool purity over maximizing happiness? Why would a utilitarian consider "pollution" of the gene pool to be bad?

3) So far as I can tell, your position is that if evolution is false, then a person with a genetic disease dying before reproducing does not decrease the likelihood of that disease showing up in future generations? Is that right? If so, what is the mechanism that keeps reintroducing the genes in question? Do all genetic diseases come from spontaneous mutations rather than inheritance?

aethercowboy (profile) says:

I’m generally in agreement with you, Mike. I think that Peterson going after these people for defamation would be like me going after a toddler for calling me a doody-head.

However, Item (f) does seem legitimately defamatory. It suggests that he inappropriately manipulates his clinical patients, something that could, potentially affect his career as a clinical psychologist.

Of course, I’m all open to explanations as to why this isn’t a legit claim.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you read the statement in full context, it becomes very clear. Remember that for something to be libel you have to be stating it as fact – or as an opinion in a way that implies you are basing it on facts that you know but aren’t disclosing. With that in mind, here’s what Kate Manne wrote (regarding a story Peterson told in nhis book about a patient of his):

I’d raise an alternative explanation: Maybe she was raped — five times, as she stated — and then was effectively undermined or even gaslit by her therapist. To be clear, I’m not saying that that is what happened. I can’t possibly know, on the basis of what Peterson writes here. But I’d certainly like to know more, and I’m surprised Peterson has not yet been asked about these and similar passages, in which he comes across as highly contemptuous of female clients.

aethercowboy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Thank you for the response.

While I may have a fairly decent understanding of defamation law in the US and my own state (a lawyer once threatened me with a defamation counter suit while I was suing his clients for real estate fraud… which he never followed through on, as it was a baseless claim to begin with), it seems that Canadian defamation law is a little less free.

After taking a brief crash course in Canadian defamation law, it seems that this could potentially be construed as libel. However, it all depends on the interpretation of “fair comment” wrt Manne, and “responsible communication on matters of public importance” wrt Vox.

It also depends on how the courts would interpret that statement, and whether it was “calculated to disparage the plaintiff in any office, profession, calling, trade or business held or carried on by the plaintiff at the time of the publication.”

According to my research, Canada has the most plaintiff-friendly defamation law in the English-speaking world. So, it’s anybody’s guess how it will turn out. Though, thanks to the SPEECH act, it’s unlikely that if Peterson does win this case, any Americans will be harmed in the making of this lawsuit.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I think the UK beats out Canada on plaintiff-friendly defamation, but yes it is true that nowhere has as strong protections as the US.

However, I still find it extremely unlikely that a Canadian court would see Manne’s article as defamation. We don’t have as many incredibly strict protections codified in law, and the procedural differences that put more onus on the speaker would mean the legal battle might take a little longer or be a little more involved for Manne, but at the end of the day we do have a constitutional right to free speech and a judiciary that takes it seriously, and (like the US) a long history of court rulings upholding the idea that we need to foster vibrant dialogue and protect free speech.

Believe me, much nastier things than Manne’s interview get published in Canada every day, and it’s not like it’s a libel-lawsuit-circus or anything.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

(Of course none of that changes the question of hypocrisy. Just because Peterson could conceivably win the lawsuit doesn’t change how hypocritical it is. He’s even, I believe, commented himself that he admires and respects America’s strong first amendment compared to Canada’s much weaker charter free speech right. And more generally, his non-legal comments about the principles of free speech and free thought and their psychological importance and blah blah blah are all in direct opposition to suing someone over a statement like that.)

Shufflepants says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I’d recommend ContraPoint’s videos on Peterson. She does a pretty good job of giving him props for things he’s done and said that can actually help people, but also does a good job of explaining how a lot of other things he says is just unfounded and hypocritical quackery.

Thad (profile) says:

There may be consequences to your speech. That’s part of free speech.

Unfortunately "speech has consequences" probably needs a little more clarification, because people have started using that phrase to defend suing people for protected speech.

"There may be private consequences to your speech"? Does that work? Or "There may be social or economic consequences to your speech"?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

it is already correct as it is. there is no point in saying it any other way because there are multiple levels in which your speech will have consequences and I will take this time to point out another ignorance you are presenting.

Consequences are neither default good or bad. There is such a thing as a positive consequence. Yet another ignorance that you have and seem to wish to peddle about Mr. Blue Mountain State!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I believe that freedom of speech means that you are not prohibited from saying whatever you want. However freedom of speech does not mean that you’re immune to the consequences, and if you do defame someone, you can be penalized for that.

Merely prefacing your statements with “I believe that…” shouldn’t be a “get out of penalty free” card. If someone says “in my opinion you’re a pedo and rapist and need to be put out of business,” that’s pretty defaming and, again imho, grounds for a lawsuit. So I’d say I kind of disagree with #7 in the 12 rules – but only depending on context.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Jordan Peterson is also trying to spread the idea of intellectual freedom and unfettered, uncompelled speech.

Saying “I believe Jordan Peterson is a misogynist” is not slander. It is not an illegal offense. It is not even irresponsible. It is me expressing my opinion based on having read and listened to his ideas, but not seeking to silence him or compel him to say something different. That is precisely what Jordan Peterson claims to believe in.

Pieter Hulshoff (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I do believe there’s a bit of a difference between just anyone claiming that Dr. Peterson may have gaslit a patient or a professor of philosophy making such a claim. It is a pretty serious accusation to make, and her position gives her a certain amount of credibility in this regard. While I still think this lawsuit is misguided, I do notice that Dr. Peterson has been called a lot of things by a lot of people, and he’s only filed a few very specific defamation lawsuits. It’s not like he’s trying to silence everybody who disagrees with him.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

If you have your doubts about (f), read the full paragraph in context:

"I’d raise an alternative explanation: Maybe she was raped — five times, as she stated — and then was effectively undermined or even gaslit by her therapist. To be clear, I’m not saying that that is what happened. I can’t possibly know, on the basis of what Peterson writes here. But I’d certainly like to know more, and I’m surprised Peterson has not yet been asked about these and similar passages, in which he comes across as highly contemptuous of female clients."

Kinda couldn’t be more explicitly clear that it is a matter of opinion and speculation, based solely on the passage in his book (which she quoted right beforehand), not an assertion of fact. It’s not even close to defamation.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

In that phrase, consequences has always been intended to mean social or economic consequences – as in, other people exercising their own freedoms in reaction to your speech.

Unfortunately some people have weirdly co-opted it to include things like lawsuits under the header of "consequences". In that context, you are certainly correct: to say "freedom of [x] does not mean freedom from legal, government-enforced consequences" certainly does render the entire concept of "freedom" utterly meaningless.

But that meaning is not what was intended here. I suppose, as Thad suggested above, we who use the phrase correctly might need to start clarifying our meaning. That’s bloody frustrating though since the other usage is so utterly stupid, and so completely devoid of any useful meaning whatsoever – even managing to obliterate the meaning of all the words it uses – that I’m still holding out hope we can ignore it until it goes away.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

As I replied to an earlier comment, this definition of “freedom” seems to ignore real life.

If I speak up about something I disagree with, and the other side starts accusing me of something terrible, such as pedophilia and child rape, even if they preface with “in my opinion” or “I believe…”, whatever, while they have a right to express such thoughts they shouldn’t be absolved of any consequences. These are merely thinly veiled accusations.

Freedom of speech means that you can’t be prevented from making any statements you want (prior restraint?), but if you truly cause harm to someone or their reputation, there should be some “government-enforced consequences” allowed.

It’s not limiting free speech to do that. Our liberties do not absolve us of responsibility in how we exercise them. The right to bear arms does not absolve me of any harm caused by me misusing that right. The right to freedom of religion doesn’t prevent me from being penalized if I misuse that right to cause harm.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You are allowed to accuse people of terrible things, so long as your accusations are a matter of opinion rather than a claim that you know special secret facts that prove their guilt.

That’s why Jordan Peterson is allowed to say that left-wing politicians and academics “subscribe to a mass-murdering ideology” and are seeking to “destroy Western civilization”. Those are some pretty heavy accusations – and he doesn’t even bother opening with “I think” or “I believe” most of the time! But he’s free to make them, and others are free to accuse him of things in response.

Anonymous Coward says:

*giggle* I love how much he pisses you off… and how you’re setting yourself up for trolls to just make it worse. The lack of personal replies from you seem to show you’re afraid of chasing off or refuting trolls OR differing opinions now, too.

Trolling aside (your articles are 80% okay on TD, so I’ll stay 80% genuinely involved), maybe try reading up on Canadian freedom of expression and defamation laws in addition to the way American law works… because these lawsuits originate in Canada. I’d prefer a write-up of that instead of these silly rules.

Your take on it seems somewhat willfully uninformed. Which set of laws would take precedent with a lawsuit started in Canada? I honestly don’t know, but it may be better to do research instead of pooh-poohing the whole thing from the start; the article comes across as more of a personal attack instead of an informative rebuke with facts to back it up.

There are differences in Canada’s freedom of expression laws vs. American freedom of speech, though I don’t know what they all are (aside from some more stringent Canadian “hate speech” laws that thankfully don’t get applied often). No idea how defamation laws are applied in either country.

Since there are differences in the way the law is applied in each country, saying the lawsuit has no teeth may be premature. Same with the first lawsuits, which only apply to Canadian citizens and therefore cannot come under the same kinds of American-style free speech or defamation laws.

Pieter Hulshoff (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think the question is not so much whether he can sue under Canadian defamation laws, but whether he should. These lawsuits appear more focused on teaching university professors to be a tad more honest in their opinions due to their standing than on compensating for actual harm. Though that may be a legal course of action under Canadian law, I do think someone who portrays himself as a free speech advocate should consider whether doing so might impact his credibility.

That said, I am curious as to where the draw the line between speech one should let slide, and cases of libel or slander where legal action is needed. IMHO, there should be some limits on knowingly expressing falsehoods. Is adding “I think” or “in my opinion” sufficient in all cases? Can I avoid any legal blame by doing that?

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Agreed about knowingly expressing falsehoods. I can see Alex Jones and his ilk falling foul of that to a chorus of “Censorship!” from his fans.

I’m not sure what adding “I think” or “in my opinion” does in terms of being a get out of jail free card for defamation. I’d appreciate some clarity from people in the know.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

These things are evaluated by humans – judges and juries – who take context into consideration and try to determine how an average, reasonable reader would understand a statement that was made.

As such, there are no "magic words" in making the determination. A statement opening with "I think" might still rise to the level of defamation if it implies your thoughts are based on special knowledge of (false) facts that you are not sharing. Conversely, a statement that doesn’t open with "I think" can still be seen as opinion by the very nature of what is stated.

I suggest taking a step back, and reading through Kate Manne’s Vox interview in full again (or for the first time if you haven’t already). It’s not very long.

It is very critical of Peterson, and says some harsh things about him and raises some theories about him that would reflect very badly on him if they are true. But it is, from top to bottom, a case of a person simply reading his book and watching his videos and then honestly expressing their opinions and reactions. It might, to some readers, change or darken their opinion of Peterson – but there is not a word in there that could leave any reader with the impression that they have learned new (false) facts about Peterson.

Seriously, read that interview and imagine a world where that level of criticism was deemed actionable libel. Think about all our political discourse, our social discourse, our global conversation about the most important and the most trivial topics. Think how much of it would fall afoul of such a widely applicable concept of defamation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If a respected peer of mine in a similar field said these things about me, things that could very well affect my career, then it would be reasonable to limit a defamation suit to only those peers, no one else.

Someone in academia who should know better. Fact-checking is part-and-parcel of their career. Not a one of these defamation suits is for your average Jo or reporter online, it’s only been Peterson’s peers in academia.

The suits don’t target Vox, Fox News, CNN, or regular people on Reddit, Twitter or Facebook, only academics like him.

To lie about a peer is also a potential conflict of interest for you, too. Discrediting someone you disagree with might mean you get attention and status for doing a similar job instead of the person you lied about.

If the scope of the suits stays limited, I see no problems. It won’t create bad precedent (aka. “case law” for Americans) if it targets people in a very limited way.

If it does go too far when (if?) the trials go forward, then yeah, I’ll join you in saying it’s turned into overreach. We just don’t know yet. That’s why I asked for a better kind of article that would go deeper into what Canadian laws or would apply (or not apply) in this situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Dr. Professor Peterson:

These are Americans, talking about American issues, in the United States, protected by the United States Constitution.

When you enter our sovereign country’s political discussions and profit from selling your ideas in our country, you do so as a foreign guest.

Canadian Law, Canadian courts, Canadian politicians and the Canadian government have absolutely no legitimate role in this.

If you want to participate in our society, you will do so under our laws, customs and freedoms.

If you can’t do that, then skeedaddle back to Canada and stay there.

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