U of T psychology professor Jordan Peterson released a YouTube video on November 5, addressing U of T following its agreement to hold a debate forum with him.
According to Peterson, the university sees that his refusal to recognize genderless pronouns is “in violation of university policy” and “contravenes Ontario the Human Rights Code.” Peterson also stated that the university said they are just as responsible for his speeches as he is.
“The university is distancing itself from me, because they know that if I get called for my hate speech because of my refusal to use these pronouns, then the university is just as guilty as I am,” said Peterson. “So what they’re doing is setting up a series of legal documents that are designed to show that they acted in good faith trying to discipline a wayward employee who is contravening these policies.”
In response to two letters sent to him by U of T’s dean of the faculty of Science, David Cameron, Peterson wrote a letter to U of T on November 2, saying that he cannot “abide” by the request of the forum that the university had agreed to hold with him.
Peterson gave the university two options in rebuttal his letter. One is that the university continues to insist upon his silence, because it believes his actions are illegal. “It can then continue to take whatever actions it deems necessary to distance itself from me and my opinions,” he said.
The second option that Peterson offered was that U of T goes back to the Statement on Freedom of Speech of May 1992, which states that the “essential purpose of the university is to engage in the pursuit of truth, the advancement of learning and the dissemination of knowledge. To achieve this purpose, all members of the university must have as a prerequisite freedom of speech and expression […] The university must allow the fullest range of debate. It should not limit the debate by preordaining conclusions, or punishing or inhibiting the reasonable exercise of free speech.”
“The university must decide. It can accept option one, which in my opinion, means sacrificing its commitment to free speech, […], or it can accept option two, ‘defending my right to criticize the society at large,’ by all legal means necessary,” said Peterson.
Cameron wrote a letter back to Peterson saying that U of T is “quite prepared” to host a forum where arguments about the gender identity and Bill C-16 are presented, in addition to arguments about freedom of expression and how it should “properly relate to non-discrimination protections that exist in Canadian law.”
Cameron’s letter added that U of T cannot host a forum that “will offer a platform for an expressed intention to engage in conduct with your students and colleagues, that you appear to have acknowledges, would be in violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code.”
Peterson stated toward the end of the video that he has decided to go forward with the debate forum because “a flawed debate is better than none.”
The date of the forum remains unknown.