Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Guardian newspaper. Some of their investigative journalism is outstanding. Then they get bogged down in the daftest aspects of identity politics to spout puerile nonsense. Case in point, Jordan Peterson
The Guardian can’t make up its mind about the Canadian psychologist. Except they don’t like him, thus he’s in their sights. At the same time, he's generated a lot of copy for them. It's clear that Peterson has rattled the cage of the Marxist left, and the spin is on to discredit him. It's laughable to watch.
I did a search on the Guardian website of articles related to Peterson and his ideas. Believe me, there are plenty. Guardian writers cannot leave the man alone. They also appear to be somewhat confused about what or who he is and represents. Of course, the left loves its identity politics so Peterson must have a label. Then once he has a category, he's placed in the merit-hierarchy as either an oppressor or the oppressed.
Below is a slice of this year's articles the Guardian has run on Peterson. These show the confusion and attempts to label him.
On March 9 he’s ‘controversial’ and by March 16 ‘the self-help guru we love to hate'. On March 23 he's ‘full of rage'. To finish the month, Arwa Mahdawi on March 24 crowbars criticism of Peterson into a story on the New York City elections. It's a tight fit, but she's a game lady and gives it a go.
By April 2 Peterson is a ‘minor academic.' Moving into the early summer on May 14, he's ‘right-wing’. On May 23 he's ‘not very clever'. By June things get more interesting. He’s described on June 5 as the ‘academic-cum-pop-philosopher'. By August 5, he’s the ‘evangelist of the new right'. Then again on August 15, he's ‘far-right'.
This week on August 20, we're treated to criticism of Peterson’s diet. This comes from a professor of Irish performance studies. Yep, I had to read that twice before I fell off my chair laughing. What motivates a professor of Irish performance studies to lash out at Peterson? I’ve no idea. What's assured is that the Guardian is scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Besides these articles, I've overlooked the many that came out in support of Cathy Newman. Following her car crash interview with Peterson, media friends rallied in support. The main thrust of these pieces is that Peterson was at fault. How he was at fault is never expressed, except for being a white man. Although, any common-sense reviewer saw Newman's world-view challenged. Unfortunately, that level of honesty escaped Newman’s defenders.
By the way, how is the police investigation into the trolls who allegedly attacked Newman? Silence…
So why is the Guardian so inflamed about Peterson? It spends much time and energy seeking to discredit him. Even getting a ‘River Dance’ expert to slag off his dietary choices. Well, in my view, it's simple. Peterson contests the narrative that underpins the Guardian’s worldview. That's his first offence.
Further, he deploys science and rationality to support the propositions he makes. He's clear that someone's feelings cannot take precedence over science and proven facts. That's his second offence. Facts are difficult to dismiss. Hence the cognitive dissonance of Cathy Newman when confronted with Peterson’s assertions. She's intelligent enough to acknowledge the evidence, but can't reconcile it with her opinions. Gotcha! (Sorry, couldn't resist that.)
Much of the anger that leaps from the Guardian in Peterson’s direction is borne of frustration. They don’t have compelling responses; thus personal attacks are the easier option.
Also, I see another process of play. It sticks in the claw (a lobster claw at that) of the Guardian writers the Petersons ideas appeal to men. Especially a cohort of white men. Some in this group are struggling in the modern world. Peterson causes offence by seeking to help them. After all, in the world of the SJW, men, especially white men, are repressors. Peterson's self-help guide offends their sentiments. White men cannot be victims; otherwise, the whole simplistic postmodern victimhood hierarchy collapses.
I agree some of his advice is banal. But that doesn't detract from its value. The simple call to tidy up your room has profound significance. If it teaches folks to organise themselves better, then surely that's a positive thing. These small steps help on the road to being a better person. Thus, the sneering put-downs in many of the articles say more about the writer than Peterson.
In fairness, a few of the Guardian articles sought to present a balanced assessment. Yet, by my rough estimate, 80% are attack pieces. Plus much of the criticism is bereft of supporting evidence beyond opinions. That's the new norm in the postmodern world.
The Guardian's most significant mistake is to describe Peterson as right-wing. He's far from it. Calling anyone with whom you disagree ‘right-wing' is sloppy and contributes nothing to the debate. Any rational analysis suggests he's middle of the road.
But does dismantling and embarrassing some witless feminist makes you right-wing? It appears so in Guardianland. His assignment of right-wing status is more to do with the far left than anything he has to say. I suppose when you're sitting at the south pole all directions are to the north.
What's distasteful in the coverage of Peterson is the failure to engage with his ideas. Many of the Guardian writers instead take the easy option. Throw verbal bricks and ignore any merit in his views. This lousy approach defines them.
Moreover, while asserting its inclusiveness, the Guardian is demonstrating the opposite. Its relentless pursuit of Peterson reminds me 'the lady doth protest too much'.
Peterson has valuable things to say. He's also wrong about other things. But to level these falsified hit-pieces shows how far this once decent paper has fallen.
On the reverse side, Peterson does not instruct his audience to dismiss his opponents out of hand. He says talk to them at the level of detail because that's where they are weak. That’s his strength and the Guardian’s weakness.
Walter De Havilland is one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Hong Kong Police.