Dr. Jordan Peterson, a psychologist from Ontario, lost his court case against the College of Psychologists of Ontario this week. Peterson’s remarks on Twitter, and in personal appearances were at the center of this case. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice Divisional Court heard the case.
In the decision, it was stated that complaints had been received by the college about Peterson’s remarks from 2018. These included both formal complaints as well as those made via Twitter. The issues concerned a variety of topics, including race, transgenderism and COVID-19. The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) represented Peterson. According to CCF, Peterson had maintained that his remarks did not relate to the practice of psychology. Peterson, according to the decision requested a judicial appeal of the college’s Decision of Inquiries Complaints and Reports Committee, which requested that Peterson complete a Specified Continuing Education and Remediation Program.
The ICRC issued its order following an investigation into the language used by Dr. Peterson during public statements made earlier in 2022. In its decision, the ICRC expressed concern that Dr. Peterson’s comments could be “degrading and demeaning” as well as “unprofessional”. The ICRC also concluded that the language Dr. Peterson used in his public statements may have been regarded as “disgraceful, unprofessional, and/or dishonorable” by other members of the psychology profession.
The court found that, despite the CCF’s and Peterson’s assertions that his remarks were made “off-the-clock,” he was required to take the SCERP course “to improve his professionalism when making public statements.”
What did Peterson do to arouse the anger of the College? The ruling referred to the following remarks.
- Peterson replied to a tweet sent on July 2, 2022, by someone who was worried about the overpopulation and said that they could “leave at any time.”
- The document claims that Peterson made comments during an appearance on the “Joe Rogan Experience” on January 25, 2022. He was identified as a psychologist who spoke about a client whose complaint was a “package of lies.” When asked to comment on the correlation between childhood deaths and air pollution, Peterson said, “It is just poor children and the world already has too many people.”
- In a tweet dated February 7, 2022, he called former Trudeau adviser Gerald Butts “a prick.”
- On the 19th, a tweet was sent about Ottawa City Councillor Catherine McKenney. McKenney used they/them as pronouns and Peterson called her an “appalling, self-righteous moralizing” thing.
- Peterson tweeted in June 2022: “Remember when Pride was a Sin? Ellen Page had her breasts surgically removed by a criminal doctor.”
- Peterson expressed his opinion about the Sports Illustrated cover plus-sized model in May of that year. He said, “Sorry.” “Not Beautiful.” “No amount of authoritarian toleration is going to change this.”
Peterson responded to the ruling on Twitter/X:
So the Ontario Court of Appral ruled that @CPOntario can pursue their prosecution
If you think that you have a right to free speech in Canada
I will make every aspect of this public
And we will see what happens when utter transparency is the rule
— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) August 23, 2023
CCF Litigation director Christine Van Geyn said:
This result is disappointing to us, and we believe it could have a chilling impact on other professionals who are regulated, such as doctors, teachers, lawyers, and accountants. Professionals shouldn’t have to censor their speech out of fear that activists might weaponize regulatory agencies so as to penalize unpopular speech, even if there is no link between the speech and the profession. We hope Dr. Peterson will challenge this decision, which will have a lasting impact beyond his case. It is important to give the right to freedom of expression more weight than what the court did here. The mere assertion of harm risk was not sufficient. Although controversial and inflammatory, it is not suggested that the people whom Dr. Peterson spoke about were injured by his comments. In fact, the complaints were not made against them. The complaints were from members of the general public who did not agree with what Dr. Peterson had to say, or even worse, the manner in which he delivered it. The regulator should not act on this basis, given Dr. Peterson’s constitutional right to freedom of speech.
Peterson’s comment about air pollution and poor children is certainly a cause for concern. Since I didn’t watch the show, there is no way for me to know if this comment was taken out of context. Even if the comment was taken out of context, it is still not pretty. It is well known that anyone on the Left can make comments as objectionable, if not worse than what Peterson said. They could be nominated for the Nobel Prize. Or an honorary Ph.D. I bet that some of these people will be responsible for Peterson’s re-education.