TORONTO — A rally speech by a professor at the University of Toronto who refuses to use politically correct pronouns in addressing those with gender dysphoria was recently disrupted by upset students.
Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the university, opposes the proposed Canadian bill C-16, which adds “gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.”
Those who violate the law by discriminating against a transgendered person or using speech that is deemed to “incite hatred” against the person might face up to two years behind bars.
Peterson refers to similar laws already passed in New York City, which include a prohibition on “[i]ntentionally failing to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title,” such as “repeatedly calling a transgender woman ‘him’ or ‘Mr.’ when she has made it clear that she prefers female pronouns and a female title.”
“Some transgender and gender non-conforming people prefer to use pronouns other than he/him/his or she/her/hers, such as they/them/theirs or ze/hir,” guidelines released by the New York City Commission on Human Rights also outline.
Violations could result in penalties up to $125,000 and up to $250,000 for transgressions of the law that are considered to be “willfull, wanton or malicious conduct.”
Peterson stands against such laws being enacted in Canada, and is now being labeled bigoted for it. Recently, while speaking at a free speech rally at the University of Toronto, he was met with chants of “Shame! Shame!” and students turned on a white noise machine in an attempt to drown Peterson and others out.
Lauren Southern, a reporter with the conservative outlet The Rebel, was also assaulted at one point and called profane names.
Some of those present, which included members of the University of Toronto Students’ Union and the Black Liberation Collective, were already upset because of comments Peterson had made in YouTube videos.
“I’m not here to talk about sexual politics, it’s not my concern. What I’m going to talk about is freedom of speech,” Peterson said at the rally, entitled “U of T Rally for Free Speech.”
“With Bill C-16 and surrounding legislation, it’s the first time I’ve seen in our legislative history where people are attempting to make us speak their language,” he declared.
Event organizer Geoffrey Biffo Liew told The Varsity, “The event was intended to be an affirmation of freedom of speech, which includes contrary views. We could’ve had a peaceful, agreeable afternoon, which would’ve made it look like there was no issue at all. Instead, we faced disruption, shouting down, cord pulling and white noise.”
But Peterson isn’t backing down despite the opposition. He wrote an article days after the incident standing by his position.
“Facebook offers a choice of 58 [gender identities]. Is that not the instant reductio ad absurdum of the gender extremists’ claims?” he asked. “Are the denizens of New York now legally required to employ a new pronoun for each of these many identities? How are they supposed to keep track of who’s who? And who is going to distinguish between mistakes and criminal action or intent?”
“Words such as zie and hir, are, in my opinion, moves in the PC game. It’s not a game I wish to play,” Peterson said. “We shouldn’t reduce complex, uncertain issues to a one-size-fits-all formula. Instead, we should think things through carefully, using words of our own choice. It’s a free speech issue, in its essence.”