Culture

Jordan Peterson Threatened With Re-Education Training Or Risks Losing Clinical Psychology License

By Jaimee Marshall
·  10 min read
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Instagram/@jordan.b.peterson

The College of Psychologists of Ontario is investigating Jordan Peterson for what they have deemed inappropriate tweets.

Jordan Peterson is essentially being punished for committing thought crimes that diverge from the far-leftist orthodoxy. Ironically, the psychologist and professor who has dedicated most of his life's work cautioning against the dangers of authoritarianism of the sort we've seen in the Soviet Union or in Orwell's dystopian fiction is being compelled by a regulatory college to submit to re-education training for thought crimes. While Peterson will recover with or without his psychology license, there's much more at stake here than one man's professional license.

For Peterson, It's Been an Uphill Battle

Jordan Peterson first rose to fame in 2016 after refusing to comply with Canada's Bill C-16, a proposed law that would include gender identity in its anti-discrimination laws. Out of concern that the bill's vague language would lead to mandated speech, Peterson publicly refused to comply with the bill on grounds it violated freedom of expression. He didn't think a person should legally be compelled to use someone's desired pronouns, for example, especially not ones that were made up or were being used for political ends, even if he was personally fine with making these accommodations. He welcomed debate from fellow students while he was a professor at the University of Toronto, and videos of their increasingly irrational responses helped him go viral.

Peterson's notoriety popularized his lectures on the Bible and positive masculinity. He became a best-selling author of the books 12 Rules for Life and Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life and sold out his lectures around the globe. While Peterson was dubbed the poster boy for the alt-right and incels by the media, even cited as the inspiration for a character in a film by Olivia Wilde that embodies toxic masculinity, his detractors struggled to produce any evidence that Peterson has ever espoused these sorts of views. If anything, Peterson has only expressed vehement disagreement with the alt-right, regarded incels as misguided in their resentment of women, and promoted positive masculinity like self-improvement and taking responsibility.

Peterson has been able to help countless people, particularly struggling young men who have little to no role models to look up to in a society hellbent on villainizing them. Seeing that men were being left behind in virtually every domain (education, life expectancy, child custody, marriage), he would provide advice in online lectures to lost young men in need of guidance, direction, and purpose. However, none of this advice need be particular to men. Many women can benefit from Peterson's insistence that you should sort out your own life before undergoing the utopian task of improving society. Over the ensuing years, he's sold millions of copies of his books, gained millions of followers across his social media accounts, and become entangled in a few controversies for his blunt comments regarding social and political issues. Because his notoriety and fame made it ethically impossible to continue seeing clients, his clinical practice has been suspended since 2017.

What Are Peterson's Thought Crimes?

The College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) regulates the profession of psychology in Canada just like other regulatory boards uphold the standards of regulated professions like doctors, lawyers, or dentists. The professional college ensures a licensed professional isn't acting inappropriately or unethically. For example, if a psychologist were abusing their client, they would be committing harm not only to the client but also staining the profession as a whole. Certainly, professional colleges have their place in making sure these licensed health professionals aren't acting recklessly or wrongly.

However, in Canada, anyone can file a complaint against a licensed psychologist, regardless of if they were a personal client or knew anyone treated by the client in any capacity. Anyone can file a complaint against a psychologist for any reason, even if they have no connection to the psychologist. This poses an obvious conflict of interest regarding public figures with large audiences who are bound to offend a few people with public utterances that are in the realm of subjective opinion. What's happened to Peterson, he says, is that random Twitter users who were unhappy with his tweets filed complaints against him with the CPO. Despite never having been clients of his and claiming offense on behalf of people they don't know, the complainants falsely claimed to be current or former clients. Peterson has access to the names of the people who filed these complaints against him but is keeping them anonymous. He does vow, however, to keep the rest of this charade entirely public for the world to see.

In Canada, anyone can file a complaint against a licensed psychologist, even if they aren’t a client. 

So, what are Peterson's supposed crimes? Among them are mostly political disagreements with Canadian political leaders. Some examples include criticisms of Justin Trudeau, a retweet of the leader of the conservative opposition in Canada regarding the Covid lockdowns causing unnecessary harm, a joke about Jacinda Arden, his disapproving comments about Elliot Page's public transition, calling the overweight model on Sports Illustrated "not beautiful," and perhaps most damning, a supposed suicide threat on Twitter. This last complaint is in reference to Peterson's snarky response, "you're free to leave at any point," to a Twitter user who argued there are too many people on the planet. 

This, of course, was intended to be an ironic joke, pointing out the hypocrisy of choosing exactly who these "excess people" on the planet are and who gets to decide that. The ironic part of Peterson being investigated for this supposed suicide threat is that Canada has recently passed legislation to legally help patients suffering from mental illness kill themselves rather than invest in their rehabilitation. 

Some of the complaints are quite vague, with no indication of what he said that was so offensive. One of the pieces of evidence for the complaints was the entire recent episode of Peterson appearing on the Joe Rogan podcast – a conversation that spanned three hours and breached numerous topics. You can find some of these comments tasteless and offensive, but is it really so reprehensible to speak bluntly about the harms of certain politicians, promoting obesity, and glamorizing transitioning when kids are becoming lab rats for ideologically insane medical doctors? Where in the psychological literature does it state that you must be ideologically left-wing to maintain your psychology license? His comments need to be placed in the context of a culture that refuses to hear even minimal disagreements on these topics, which is why he refuses to obscure the point with complementary language.

Despite practicing clinical psychology for over 20 years with no complaints, he accrued about a dozen complaints filed against him in the past four years, which is why the CPO is investigating him. This time period perfectly coincides with his rise in fame. Whether you agree with these political statements or not, you can't deny there's only one reason we're hearing about them – they're all vaguely libertarian-leaning and conservative ideals. We're entering a time in modern history where anything that isn't explicitly informed by a far-left social justice ideology is not only deemed wrong, offensive, and immoral, but evidence that you are unfit to practice psychology. If you think they'll stop there, you're wrong. What other professions are beholden to these government bureaucrats who all hold their own political biases? Are we supposed to be at the mercy of the political leanings of those who run our institutions? How can you trust your therapist, your doctor, or your professor, if they're all just parroting government-approved propaganda?

What's at Stake Here Is More Than One Psychologist's License

For the crime of uttering his own political opinions on Twitter, Peterson faces losing his clinical psychology license – something that takes about a decade to earn. He may be able to avoid losing his license if he submits to "mandatory social media retraining" conducted by what they have deemed to be "experts" on the matter. This brainwashing scheme demands payment of up to $225 an hour out of his own pocket and with no predetermined end in sight. Upon complying with these demands, the review board would make a decision based on whether or not they believe he has learned his lesson. 

Peterson has expressed he has no intent to comply and has been informed that the next step is to take him before a judiciary committee. After that, it's to go after his license. Curious how it's Peterson specifically that's being targeted by this review board. I'm certain he's not the only Canadian psychologist espousing his social and political beliefs on social media. Leftist professionals in all types of professions regularly take to Twitter to promote their brazenly biased beliefs. Why, then, is Peterson being targeted specifically? The review board has the power to dismiss unfounded or irrelevant complaints, yet they've opted to come after his livelihood. 

Why are we penalizing people who encourage men to improve themselves, take responsibility, and find meaning in their lives? 

These beliefs, which are unrelated to psychology, hardly impact his ability to be a reasonable and ethical psychologist. After all, if psychologists can encourage 12 years olds who don't yet understand the consequences of their actions to undergo double mastectomies, then I can hardly see how holding some moderately conservative political opinions is the larger evil of the two. Even so, do consenting adults not have the ability to decide for themselves who is a fit psychologist for them to see? Considering that Peterson has had such an overwhelmingly positive impact on countless young men around the world – a demographic with the highest suicide rate – is Peterson not our greatest asset in this regard? 

Why are we penalizing people who are encouraging men to improve themselves, take responsibility, and find meaning in their lives? Persecuting men like Peterson for promoting these admirable masculine qualities only leaves space for genuinely toxic manosphere antiheroes, as we've seen in recent news cycles. This, from a society that constantly places pressure on men to go to therapy but then does everything imaginable to tear down any semblance of masculine idols or useful tools for them to improve their lives. 

Considering the complaints filed against him are few and far between (only 12 out of his millions of followers on social media) and incredibly unserious (like citing an entire podcast episode with no specific references to harmful statements that he made during it), it's clear this is a scare tactic. If not to scare Jordan Peterson into silence, then to silence everyone else. Peterson will recover from this relatively unscathed, whether or not he loses his license. He will still be an influential, successful celebrity with a huge platform, but what about the others? The real goal of the CPO is to send a message to everyone else – tow the line, or else we'll come for everything you have. If you're uncomfortable with that, you should speak out against this sort of authoritarianism wherever you see it manifest. As trust in major institutions is already eroding, it's incumbent on people like Jordan Peterson to hold onto every last shred of influence they have.

Closing Thoughts

Peterson has countless supporters, and many are even taking to the streets outside the CPO building to protest. However, what about ordinary professionals without huge platforms? Can they garner the same rallying cries of Peterson's fanbase? Can they financially withstand a charge of $225 an hour for propaganda classes? More importantly, can they afford to gamble their family's financial security, reputation, and well-being to be a principled individual? Unfortunately, I have my doubts. First, they're coming for Jordan Peterson's clinical psychologist license, and many will refuse to speak out because they're not in his position, but soon, they'll be coming for you. Will there be anyone left to speak up for you?

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