-On C-16 and ‘getting in trouble’: perhaps we have to specify what constitutes ‘getting in trouble.’ Lindsay Shepherd was taken before an inquisition and the university only apologized after she released the recording. Neither one was punished, though both faced negative significant consequences for their actions. I am specifically concerned with the Shepherd case of last year because she showed a short clip from something that was aired on public television. The people reprimanding her said that neutrally playing a clip of Peterson was like playing a clip of ‘Hitler’ or ‘Milo Yiannopoulos’ (an absurd and illogical pair of comparisons as the three have basically nothing in common). Those interrogating Shepherd justified their move to reprimand her by citing Canadian law. At the very least there are significant problems interpreting Canadian and provincial laws with respect to the pronoun issues.

-On Peterson and pronouns: The ‘felt’ has more to do with the use of non-standard pronouns. Demanding that someone use one of scores of non-standard pronouns (backed with the force of law) is different than trying to portray Peterson as one who disrespects students or transgender individuals generally. Again, there is a massive different between use of standard pronouns (he, she, and I’d even be willing to throw ‘they’ in this category) and the made-up pronouns (from ‘zhe’ to ‘wormself’). He is not intolerant for refusing outlandish requests. He has also expressed the opinion that, if a student were to ask him to use a non-standard pronoun, he would have to know the student to see if this request was not a mere powerplay. There are genuine concerns with use of such pronouns which should not be brushed off as intolerance. Peterson is not disrespecting anyone. He is concerned with ceding linguistic territory to radical social constructionists.

-Your original ‘contradiction’ is still largely, if not entirely, irrelevant because there is, as I have said before, as massive difference between use of standard and non-standard pronouns. Furthermore, there is a great deal of value in Peterson’s position about determining the value of such requests. I would like to see if there are any cases at all of a student asking Peterson to use some non-standard pronoun (such as ‘zhe’). I believe, though I’d have to find the link, that Peterson said in such a case he would likely just use the person’s name and avoid pronouns altogether.

-On C-16 again (how the law plays out): Peterson voiced concern over the psychological bases of the terminology and the sources that legislators consulted during their deliberations.[1] Peterson appeared before the Canadian Senate with lawyer Jared Brown. Brown has also analyzed C-16 from a legal perspective here: https://litigationguy.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/bill-c-16-whats-the-big-deal/ . Brown’s conclusions include the following conclusions:

-certain language will be enforceable by the government under C-16

-“It is not clear that one can publicly disavow the mandated language” and “a failure to use the mandated language can result in the power of the state being brought to bear on you, resulting in punishments up to and including imprisonment.”

I would direct you to Brown’s detailed analysis rather than recapitulate it here.

-I’m concerned with placing concocted pronouns on the same level as genuine discrimination. Not using ‘zhe’ is not even the same thing as not referring to a male-to-female transgender individual as ‘she.’ We need to combat prejudice and bigotry but, in order to do so, the behavior we oppose must be well-defined. I fear conflating the issues that a majority of transgender individuals face with concocted pronouns (which most transgender people do not care for) undermines the possibility of real progress. Furthermore, I think bringing the law in to compel people to use certain language will also undermine both individual civil liberties and people’s overall respect for transgender individuals as the real issues they face.

-On objective reality: There is empirical data and then there is interpretation of that data. If the interpretation directly contradicts data the, yes, the source may very well be biased. I say may because the validity or completeness of the data must also be taken into consideration. I have run to many cases of sources with cherry-picked data and quote mining to misrepresent things. This only strengthens my opinion that dialogue is essential. Back in 2009, skeptic Michael Shermer made a video called ‘The Baloney Detection Kit’ which I found very informative in terms of assessing claims and data (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUB4j0n2UDU ). It is only about 14 and a half minutes but helpful in a general sense. Given our discussion, I’m sure you know much (of not all) of what Shermer discusses but it is a great source if you wish to share it with anyone. I have brought it up here because I think it is very much relevant to questions concerning objective reality, data, and interpretation. There is also a book How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. I have only read excerpts but find the information of great value.

-On voter fraud: Your example is solid and I do not feel the need to offer much commentary on it. The claim that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud is true in an objective sense because it states that there is no evidence. I do not think there was widespread voter fraud and the available information confirms this (regardless of what I believe). However, we should let the opposition present their evidence for the contrary and assess it accordingly. My guess is that those who think there was widespread voter fraud would cherry pick examples, rely on anecdotal evidence, play on the biases of authority figures sympathetic to proving there is voter fraud, and play with margins of error when possible. For those who stand by the actual evidence, going through the discussion can be likened to an intellectual exercise. It is necessary to disprove fraudulent claims, especially if they are popular.

-On law and progress: Our country was built upon compromise and the English common law tradition. Racism and misogyny were unfortunate aspects of that time (though have diminished over the past 250 years). Laws may have made it illegal to fire someone based on certain characteristics but this would not necessarily stop an employer from doing so. The employer could just list other reasons for not hiring someone. The progress that has broken down barriers and bigotry of previous decades and centuries is the result of dialogue, experience, and compromise. The legal arguments for marriage equality and women’s suffrage were not new when they passed. They had been debated for decades before. Legal intervention came late. Indeed, it is quite often on the tail end of a movement. Politicians are interested in getting elected and they will cater to the demands of enough constituents to win at least 50.1 percent of the vote. We should not give them too much credit. Yes, there are some idealistic politicians, but those that get and maintain office are usually the one who aim, above all else, to win 50.1 percent or more of the vote.

-On the alt-right: you still have not shown that ‘the two alt-rights are one and the same.’ Just as from the North Pole all directions are south, so from the far-left all directions are right. Painting centrists and conservatives as right-leaning and far-right comes with the conspiratorial danger of misrepresenting the alt-right’s size as well as alienating moderates and conservatives. A recent case is that of biology professor Bret Weinstein. A left-leaning Bernie supporter, Weinstein opposed the idea that white students should not show up on the campus of Evergreen State University for a day to show solidarity with African American students. This was an inversion of what went on in previous years. They key difference was that, in previous years, students absented themselves (which Weinstein and many others had no problem with) and in 2017 white students were encouraged not to show up (with the implication that, if they did, they were not supportive). So, here is case where the left went after one of their own. Bret Weinstein later went on Fox News, spoke with Tucker Carlsen, and was accused of being on the right.

-The alt-right unfortunately has a significant internet presence but that still does not necessarily make them a very large movement. For example, if there are only 1,000 supporters of some extremist ideology, they have no real voice spread around the country. However, if they gather on a site like 4chan, they can establish a platform and network with each other. This is what I think we are seeing. While I still think much of that 9 percent is composed of elderly people whose views were shaped largely by previous decades, some were almost certainly alt-right. With all of that being said, I would argue that the alt-right appears as dangerous as it is because of the numbers they were able to get to come to Charlottesville last year. People from all over descended upon one city, thus making the group look more ominous that it generally is. I would also argue that it is essential for people on the left to speak with moderates and conservatives as we all oppose the alt-right. Furthermore, those on the left (particularly the libertarian left) should condemn the actions of Antifa as their violence undermines the credibility of the left for people on the right.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnIAAkSNtqo

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