Monday 24 June 2019

In an age of madness, common sense is a radical position

Public Enemy Number One: Jordan Peterson was in Dublin last weekend
Public Enemy Number One: Jordan Peterson was in Dublin last weekend
Ian O'Doherty
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Did you ever think you would see the day when nearly 10,000 Irish people would turn up at a concert venue just to look at a bunch of 'racists, bigots and Nazis' expound their toxic world view?

Did you ever think you'd see the day when so many people from a country which is proud to lead the way in gay rights, trans-identification rights, and um, non-smokers' rights would turn up to see someone like Jordan Peterson?

I mean, he's 'literally Hitler'. Or something.

Or what about Sam Harris? He was the younger, hipper atheist nephew of Richard Dawkins who then turned into another 'literally Hitler' when he started pointing out that maybe Sharia law isn't such a great system to live under.

Mein Gott - how was such hate speech allowed in our new and shiny liberal utopia, where everyone thinks the same way?

But wait! There's more! And it's even worse!

They also had conservative firebrand Douglas Murray, who has also been mean about Islam. So he is obviously another 'literally Hitler'.

What was even worse than all of that, most of the crowd was white, and most of those attending the show were men.

You know what means, right?

Yup, this was a show put on by a bunch of literally Hitlers for the benefit of... white men, the worst creation ever to sully Mother Gaia's precious green earth, and the cause of all the world's ills.

And how dare someone be white in this country?

Don't they know that they should have been off checking their inherent white, male, phallocentric privilege, rather than attending what was obviously Ireland's equivalent to the Nuremberg rallies?

Honestly - it's like the people who turned up in the 3Arena on Saturday night simply refuse to listen to their moral and intellectual superiors.

That was certainly the reaction from the usual quarters in response to the show by the three men, of whom Peterson was the main draw.

For those of you don't know him, Jordan Peterson is the Canadian academic who became (in)famous when he refused to be compelled by law in how he refers to people.

This was immediately seen as transphobic, he immediately replied that such accusations were stupid and suddenly, without anyone really even realising it, Peterson was catapulted to Intellectual Public Enemy Number One.

He has spent much of the last year on a seemingly never-ending tour where he does battle with, and invariably dispenses with ease, his ideological opponents.

It's all rather amusing - if you haven't seen his interview with Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News, check it out but prepare to cringe so hard on her behalf that you might lose a few teeth.

Then, of course, there is his magnum opus, or Mein Kampf, if you prefer - 12 Rules For Life. In an age of madness, common sense is a radical position and when you look at Peterson's hugely popular lectures online, or read 12 Rules For Life, you might be surprised by something - it's not controversial or extreme at all. In fact, it's mostly the sort of advice people used to get from their parents.

Of course, feminist academics can't stand him, which is always a good sign.

Some people even castigated Marian Finucane for having Peterson on her show on Saturday without anyone else to 'provide balance' - as if he was a crank trying to subvert democracy rather than just an author plugging his book.

In many ways, Peterson's critics are more interesting than Peterson himself. I reviewed 12 Rules For Life in these pages a few months ago and was surprised at the vicious reaction from so many people.

It wasn't just that they disagreed with the review, they felt it shouldn't have been reviewed at all. Cos hate speech, don't you know.

But the strange thing about the static he gets from so many feminists and the moral-posturing brigade is that you'd think they would actually like his message.

After all, it's been a long time since someone came along and told men to basically get their shit together, grow up and stop blaming the world for their problems. How on earth is that a bad thing? When did self-reliance and not wanting to be kept by the State become offensive traits?

Even then, his critics keep getting it wrong - they accused him of being racist and one person on Liveline complained that the audience was '85pc white' - maybe he should go to Croke Park and have a look at the demographics on display there?

Also, for what it's worth, the country is, according to the last statistics, roughly 92.2pc white, so it's not even a cogent argument, just a lazy slur.

As it happens, I didn't bother going to the show. As much as I admire the three men on the stage, it was all just a little too much 'we-are-all-individuals' for my personal taste.

You can judge someone by their enemies, and one anti-Peterson tweet summed up the venom he provokes: "I hope someone stood outside the Jordan Peterson/Sam Harris gig in Dublin and kicked the shit out of every scumbag shithead who came out of it."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, that brave street-fighter didn't actually have the balls to approach anyone himself...

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