Re: Debating dignity, tolerance on campus

What is really being debated?

Ibnul Chowdhury unjustly maligns Professor Jordan Peterson by implying that he wishes to debate the “human dignity, existence, and freedom from violence” of transgender and non-binary students. There is nothing in his lectures that even tends in this direction, and to claim otherwise is pure sophistry.

This is part of a strategy to redefine opposition to a particular gender ideology as inherently violent, in order to justify real punitive action against innocent people like Professor Peterson, via government action. 

People may, in good faith, disagree with new theories of gender. For example, they may believe that gender is inextricably linked to biological sex. They may believe that biological sex is immutable. Such views are not bigoted, let alone inherently violent or unjust. However, promoting government-imposed penalties against the expression of such views, held and argued in good faith, is unjust. 

Chowdhury’s rhetoric bolsters those who wish to exercise power over others, and wish to do so with a good conscience. 

— Philippe Stephenson

Hoping for a better future for everyone

Can there be hope for a better future when prejudice, bigotry and racist attitudes and beliefs stubbornly persist throughout our society?

Prejudice is when a person negatively prejudges another person or group without getting to know the beliefs, thoughts and feelings behind their words and actions. It is grounded in misconception, misunderstanding and inflexible generalizations.

Bigotry is stronger than prejudice and is a more severe mindset that is often accompanied by discriminatory behaviour. It is arrogant and mean spirited. Bigots are obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

Racist attitudes and beliefs are misconceptions about people based on perceived racial lines and are often founded on the fear of difference, including differences in customs, values, religion, physical appearance and ways of living and viewing the world. It destroys community cohesion and creates divisions in society.

Prejudice, bigotry and racism have a terrible impact on our society.  Ignorance is no excuse, insecurity is not justification, and the majority of society likely agree that each in all their forms should be uncompromisingly condemned.  So why have honest, well meaning and constant attempts to do so failed, and how can we hope to scrub clean this kind of unjust and wrongful thinking?

Laws are important but when they diverge from a social norm, the practice may continue but simply go underground.  Social norms must always be appreciated and recognized as central to our communities sense of identity, but the tricky bit is to change the negative norms and replace them with new, positive ones.  Clearly after many years of trying we have not done a good enough job at this but we must never, and will never, give up.

Fear seems to be at the heart of the problem and hopefully fear that social and cultural norms are unchangeable will never add to the problem.  So who is trying to address and answer these questions for the future?  I am, and I hope you are, plus the continued efforts of social, political and religious leaders as well as media will remain imperative along with framing corresponding laws and enforcement of the same.   Civil society will never give up trying to teach people that prejudice, bigotry and racism are simply and clearly wrong.  So you can believe that there is hope for a better and happier future, just maybe not for the bigots.

— Robert Hicks

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