During a public meeting Canadian staff at Penguin Random House have protested against their company’s plans to publish Jordan B. Peterson’s new book, “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life”. Peterson is a prominent Canadian psychoanalyst unafraid to tackle controversial social and political issues such as gender, identity politics or masculinity. His previous book, “12 Rules for Life”, has sold over 5 million copies world-wide.
Peterson had come into the limelight when he publicly voiced his objections against an amendment of the Canadian Human Rights Act (Bill C-16) that was designed to protect gender identity and expression. Peterson had argued that this legislation would amount to compelled speech that would seriously infringe on citizen’s freedom of expression and conscience. Peterson has been a vocal critic of political correctness and had amassed a huge fan-base among his mostly conservative-thinking audience. At the same time, he was also attacked from the political far-left for questioning many of their core concepts, such as “cultural appropriation” or “white supremacy”. Even his employer, The University of Toronto, where he worked as a lecturer, had sent him warning letters with regards to his vocal opposition to the human rights bill amendment, which in academia are often a precursor to disciplinary action. Yet, as public support for Peterson grew, the university decided not to pursue any further disciplinary action against the author.
Recently Peterson has announced the planned publication of his new book “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life” on his YouTube channel. However, some employees at Penguin Random House, where the book is being published, protested against their own company’s decision to press ahead with the publication of an author whom they regard as an “icon of hate speech and transphobia and … an icon of white supremacy”. During the meeting, managers at the publishing house were forced to defend their decision to go ahead with the publication but some employees were adamant that the book must be blocked. An employee, who is reportedly a member of the LGBTQ community, stated that she is “not proud to work for a company that publishes him [J.P.]”. Others in the audience were reportedly crying and complaining about how Peterson had affected their lives. One audience member had claimed that Peterson’s book had radicalized their father, others feared that it will negatively affect their non-binary friends. Penguin Random House’s diversity and inclusion committee had also received over 70 anonymous messages protesting against Peterson’s book.
Some public figures, including members of Jordan Peterson’s own family, have expressed their own dismay at the reports that there are attempts to block the book’s publication. Peterson’s daughter, Mikhaila, had reacted in a tweet:
She continued by writing:
“I’m appalled that the good people at Penguin who have been supportive of @jordanbpeterson for years were harassed by their ideologically possessed colleagues. Having to stand up to a bunch of crying adults must have been terribly stressful. Good for them.
We’re now dealing with bullies who are trying to cancel books (that they haven’t read), by employing methods used by children below the age of 6 (crying). Those are the people that will eventually be in charge of what’s published and available. It’s terrifying.
I stand by the firing suggestion. How do you run a business when you’re being manipulated, bullied, and pressured by people who work there to cancel books they haven’t read? If those people end up in charge, Penguin will just be a propaganda manufacturer in no time.”
The prominent British publicist Douglas Murray also rose to Peterson’s defense tweeting that “Any such ‘tearful’ staff should be fired immediately and their jobs advertised the next day. If you don’t understand free speech you’ve no right pretending to work in a publishing house.”
The scandal is another worrying development in the current struggle for free speech. Increasingly, any diversion from the mainstream progressive views regarding gender and identity politics is being heavily censored in the media and on social media platforms, while any dissent that would challenge the official line is often sanctioned by legal means, such as the new Norwegian law punishing even private comments that are deemed offensive for transgender people.