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From The Manchester Guardian:
Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychology professor and lobster-loving life coach who came to public attention after refusing to use the preferred pronouns of transgender people, has a new book coming out, and some staff at Penguin Random House Canada, were reportedly not pleased with the company’s decision to publish it. When the publisher announced that it would be bringing out Peterson’s Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life (a sequel to his 2018 bestseller 12 Rules for Life), management received dozens of complaints from staff. At a company town hall meeting, some employees were reportedly in tears as they described how Peterson had radicalized people in their lives.
Predictably, the staff who complained were criticized as over-sensitive and excessively woke. The Telegraph suggested that intolerant social justice warriors were trying to censor Peterson. Commentator Maajid Nawaz said that it showed an “insidious danger facing our culture” now that “book publishers want to ban books”. Reason’s Robby Soave said that “militantly woke staffers at these places are determined to suppress viewpoints they disagree with”. I am sure Peterson himself was thrilled, believing it had proven his point about “snowflake” leftists, in addition to bringing exactly the desired advance publicity for his book.
It’s not reasonable to claim that employees who object to publishing Peterson are “censorious”. A publisher is not a Kinkos. Penguin Random House rejects far more books than it accepts, and it does not treat all points of view equally. It does not publish works of Holocaust denial or phrenology. It has standards, and it’s reasonable for employees to argue that Peterson does not meet those standards. After all, he has suggested that gay marriage might be a plot by cultural Marxists, that women wearing makeup in the workplace is “sexually provocative”, that trans women aren’t women because they’re not “capable of having babies”, that women cannot handle truth, and that transgender activists are comparable to mass-murdering Maoists. He peddles debunked scientific theories and dangerously dodgy diets. I have gone through his work myself and shown that he is a crackpot, whose writing is devoid of basic reasoning and full of wild unsubstantiated claims. When Pankaj Mishra wrote a critical review of Peterson’s work in the New York Review of Books, Peterson called Mishra a “prick” and said he’d “slap [Mishra] happily”. The things he says are often false, prejudiced and dangerous. What possible obligation does a publisher have to publish the ravings of bigots?
Believing that a prestigious publisher should not give such a person a contract is not the same as believing that they should be punished for speaking, or that they should not have access to the internet, a printer, or the marketplace. It’s important to make this distinction clear, because many conservative claims about being “censored” actually just amount to demands that their opinions be elevated far beyond their worth – that evidence-free, bigoted speech be given any prestigious platform it demands, with criticism seen as proof that the critics are intolerant. (Andrew Sullivan, for instance, resigned from New York magazine in a huff after his colleagues expressed discomfort about his flirtations with white supremacism and race science. They didn’t demand the magazine stop publishing him, but just being criticized was enough for him to bolt, claiming a hostile environment.)
There is no problem, then, with staff arguing that Peterson’s work is not worth the company’s imprimatur. The real problem is that this doesn’t happen enough, that publishers are amoral and bring out books on the basis of whether they will sell rather than whether they have social value. The staff revolt against Peterson is a very rare instance of a publishing company being criticized on moral grounds for its choices. After all, war criminal Henry Kissinger has published with Penguin Random House and Macmillan. People responsible for the atrocity of the Iraq war like George W Bush and John Bolton have brought books out with major publishers, even though the human toll of their decision-making is far greater than that of Jordan Peterson.
Link to the rest at The Manchester Guardian
While reading the OP, PG wondered whether Jordan Peterson believes that The Manchester Guardian is not obliged to give bigots like the author of the OP a platform.
For those outside of the United States, the term “deplatform” has entered the argot of of some political groups.
The following definition is from Whatis:
To deplatform someone is to remove their access to a channel for delivering messages to an audience. Deplatforming may involve not just banning the user or discontinuing service but also removing any existing content the user previously created on the site or service.
The term is usually used in reference to social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, where site owners have banned users whose communications have been deemed unacceptable for some reason. Deplatforming can also refer to removing users from other types of services. Cloud providers and ISPs, for example, may be said to be deplatforming someone when they remove a user to prevent them from disseminating a particular type of content, such as hate speech.
. . . .
Potential reasons for removing a user from a given service may be specified in terms of service (ToS) so that the provider cannot be accused of denying any offending user’s right to free speech. However, the effectiveness of deplatforming a user is questionable. Many people who had never heard of Alex Jones, for example, are likely to hear about him being deplatformed, become curious and seek out his content, bringing him a potentially wider audience than he previously enjoyed.
PG suggests that a more widely recognized term for deplatforming is political censorship.
Political censorship has a very long history. A few examples:
In Athens, Socrates was sentenced to drink poison in 399 BC for his corruption of youth and his acknowledgement of unorthodox divinities.
The Index Librorum Prohibitorum or Index of Prohibited Books was first issued in 1559 as ordered by Pope Paul IV. Other editions of this publication followed. The Inquisition was one of the principal means of dealing with prohibited books and their authors.
The burning of the Maya Codices found by Spanish conquistadors in the Yucatán during the 16th century destroyed thousands of these ancient works. Their destruction was ordered by a Roman Catholic Bishop. Today, only three or four Maya codices remain.
Censorship in Russia predated the Communist Revolution in 1917, but gained new power thereafter. In 1922, a central censorship office, generally referred to as the Glavlit was established. Its role was to purge the Soviet society of all expressions regarded as destructive to the new order and contagious to the minds of people.
Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc., were all experts at deplatforming individuals and organizations whose bigotry and offensive thoughts and expressions were anathema to all right-thinking people.
To be Clear
PG understands the difference between censorship of political thought by a government agency or some other powerful entity and the right of anyone, including the author of the OP, to criticize Mr. Peterson’s opinions.
What punched PG’s deplatforming button was not the criticism of Mr. Peterson’s ideas and writings, but rather the verbal lobbying directed to PRH to pressure the company to cease publication of Mr. Jordan’s writings.
For PG, the OP represented attempted political censorship in the sense that the OP was urging PRH not to publish books written by someone whose political ideas, the author of the OP disagreed with. The focus of the attack was not on defects in Mr. Peterson’s ideas or the nature of his reasoning, but rather an attempt to erase such ideas from the traditional publishing world and its distribution system.
PG has little doubt that Mr. Peterson could self-publish this book and likely earn more money than he’s receiving from PRH. For whatever reason, however, he has elected to publish through PRH and PRH is apparently happy to do business with him.
PG just checked and Mr. Jordan’s earlier book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, is designated by Amazon as a bestseller and ranks #9 on this week’s Amazon Charts. It was published in 2018 by Random House Canada.