Jordan Peterson is a Canadian academic whose mysticism-soaked misogyny revolves around the social hierarchy of some lobster species and the literal existence of witches and dragons; somehow, when this rubbish is blended with anodyne life advice for angry manbabies, it creates a potent elixir that transforms internet dudes into an army of argumentative internet assholes.
Peterson's principal grievance against progressive movements is that it interferes with his free speech rights (for example, he was very upset that he might have to refer to a hypothetical nonbinary student using a gender-neutral pronoun).
But as much as Peterson loves free speech, he's not very good at sharing. He has sued and threatened to sue numerous critics, on flimsy and absurd grounds, in ways that, in my opinion, were designed to intimidate them into silence and forced apology rather than face his deep-pocketed legal weapons.
Mike Masnick is definitely from the free speech wing of the free speech party and has faced extinction-level lawsuits over his willingness to criticize figures with expensive counsel and a willingness to use the law to stifle critics.
Masnick called out Peterson's censorious hypocrisy in a sensible post that pointed out that defenders of the right to speak critically and offend people are assholes if they sue people who speak critically and offend them.
Predictably, the Gamma Lobsters of Jordan Peterson's army came out in force to jordansplain that free speech is improved when wealthy, powerful people sue their critics.
In response, Masnick has published a followup post with 12 rules for not being a total free speech hypocrite, which attempts the impossible: explaining the importance of consistency in free speech argument to people whose status as members in good standing of a personality cult requires that they deny this. It is a noble effort and well worth reading (Masnick is in excellent form), but I'll be amazed if a single Gamma Lobster is swayed by it.
Even if you think it's cool to create chilling effects for someone who doesn't want Peterson to speak, you simply are not promoting free speech by silencing critics of free speech. That's not how it works. At all. Any attempt to completely silence people — even if they're not fans of your free speech — is still an attempt to stamp out free speech and antithetical to free speech. So, given that so many of Peterson's avid followers seem to like lists, let's give you a nice list of twelve rules for not being a total free speech hypocrite:
Speak out when you have an opinion on something.
Express yourself appropriately when you think someone else is incorrect about something.
Recognize that not everyone may agree with your take on things. That's cool
There may be consequences to your speech. That's part of free speech.
Some of those consequences may involve people calling you nasty names. That's no fun, but it's still free speech.
Those people are not harming your free speech. They are engaging in it.
Don't sue or threaten to sue those people for defamation. It makes you look like a hypocritical dipshit.
Don't then sue again because of their legal response pushing back on your original defamation lawsuit.
Don't then go screaming at people who call you out as a hypocrite for suing people for criticizing you.
Perhaps try a little introspection and recognize that suing people for criticizing you creates massive chilling effects and is entirely counter to free speech.
If you're going to insist that others accept your ideas, maybe recognize that you have to accept others' ideas, even if you disagree with them.
Don't sue a cat when it hisses at you in the street.
Twelve Rules For Not Being A Total Free Speech Hypocrite [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]
(Image: Alphax, CC-BY-SA)