Thursday, December 3, 2020

Depublishing Jordan Peterson

Socialist boy wonder Nathan Robinson is in quite a huff. Writing in The Guardian, Robinson courageously declares that no publisher is obliged to publish a book. Boy, did that take a lot of courage. 

Naturally, after beginning with this obvious truth, Robinson digs himself into deep doodoo by defending the junior staff of the Canadian office of Penguin Random House. Said staff members were reduced to tears and suffered extreme anguish over the notion that they would be publishing the work of one Jordan Peterson.

Oh, the agony of it all.

The reason-- Peterson is a bigot and his bigoted opinions are causing them severe emotional distress. Apparently, they are incapable of processing opinions that differ from theirs. Now, they and young Robinson are up in arms over the fact that Peterson is allowed to express opinions that run counter to the prevailing political orthodoxy.

Because, be clear about it, Robinson and company are defending orthodoxy. They have set themselves up as Grand Inquisitors-- arrogating to themselves the power to shut down publications.

Now, as has been mentioned by other commentators, the truth of the matter is that Peterson’s book Twelve Rules for Life sold millions of copies. Thus it made the company millions of dollars. Presumably, the profits from that book paid the salaries of the young inquisitors who now want to damage their company’s bottom line. And if the loss of sales costs them their jobs….

We recall a similar fracas when J. K. Rowling expressed politically incorrect opinions about transgenderism. Of course, Rowling never wrote about transgenderism in her books, but that was not sufficient for the armies of trolls who tried to shut her up. Of course, they failed. The people who run her publishing house understood that without Rowling’s sales they would all be looking for new jobs.

In the past, I will point out, Robinson reviewed Peterson’s last book, rather unfavorably. It was a cogent and well-argued review. Since Peterson is a Jungian, I myself have some serious reservations about his theories. None of which is to the point.

The point is whether a business, even a publishing business, should coddle emotionally disturbed woke staff members. 

The second point is that Robinson, being somewhat intellectually incontinent, lumps Peterson’s view on transgenderism-- namely that a male who has transitioned is not really a woman-- with Holocaust denial. To believe that anyone who does not agree with the current dogmas of the intellectual left is denying the Holocaust is sloppy. Obviously, people who have reservations about the current climate change hysteria are often denounced as deniers-- regarding something that they believe will happen, not something that has happened.

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.

Disingenuous to a fault, Robinson believes that he is standing up for free speech and standing against the right to a publishing contract. He does not ask whether Peterson might not have earned his contract by his sales. He does not even notice that saying that thinkers should have access to the marketplace, i.e., social media, is a dubious distinction at a time when social media has been censoring conservative opinion, even to the point of suppressing news in order to try to influence elections. 

True enough, a publisher is under no obligation to publish a book. But, a publisher ought not to be subject to opprobrium for publishing a new book by an author who has already earned it millions. And no publisher should reject a book because it offends the junior thought police.


whitney said...

"To believe that anyone who does not agree with the current dogmas of the intellectual left is denying the Holocaust is sloppy"

I think this makes sense. All their enemies are Hitler or Holocaust deniers. very tidy

They're going to be very upset to find out Adolf Hitler just won an election by a landslide

Sam L. said...

"To believe that anyone who does not agree with the current dogmas of the intellectual left is denying the Holocaust is sloppy." The Left BELIEVES in the Holocaust, so long as they can own it.

Anonymous said...

How about: they are being censored and it is actual censorship. Amazon pulls books off its site. Twitter bans authors. What is the "evidence-free" stuff he thinks conservatives are saying? Can he give one example? "Prestigious platform" ? I don't think being published is that prestigious. A lot of idiots like Nathan Robinson are published.

Anonymous said...

John Cleese: “If you can’t control your own emotions, you’re forced to control other people’s behaviour,” the actor explained. “That’s why the touchiest, most oversensitive and easily upset must not set the standard for the rest of us".

His response to militant transgenderism, and attacks on JK Rowling.

- shoe

Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti said...
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