Special snowflake seeks safe space. Constructed by threatening others:
Best-selling author Jordan Peterson first shot to fame by styling himself as a free-speech warrior at the University of Toronto, where he teaches psychology. Objecting to trans people’s requests that he use their preferred pronouns, Peterson said in 2016, “I don’t recognize another person’s right to determine what pronouns I use to address them.” Later, he told the BBC, “I’ve studied authoritarianism for a very long time — for 40 years — and they’re [sic] started by people’s attempts to control the ideological and linguistic territory.”
But Peterson’s affection for unbounded “linguistic territory” only goes so far, it seems. In June, he threatened to sue Down Girl author and Cornell University assistant professor Kate Manne for defamation, after she criticized his book, 12 Rules For Life, and more generally called his work misogynistic in an interview with Vox. (Peterson previously filed a lawsuit against a university whose faculty members, in a closed-door meeting, argued that showing his videos in a classroom created an unsafe environment for students.) 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.” (You can read the full letter below).
Among the statements Levitt objected to: Manne’s contention that Peterson’s book included “some really eyebrow-raising, authoritarian-sounding, and even cruel things,” as well as her observation that “it doesn’t seem accidental that [Peterson’s] skepticism about objective facts arises when it’s conveniently anti-feminist.” The lawyer and his client were equally unhappy with this line: “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.”
David Lodge has gotten kinda hacky in his latest work.