An Ontario court has ruled that the College of Psychologists of Ontario can require Jordan Peterson to take social-media training with a board-chosen therapist. Failing to abide by the college’s orders could mean that Peterson would lose his clinical license.
The college had claimed earlier this year that several of Peterson’s tweets were “problematic, unethical or unprofessional,” leading it to demand that he take the social-media training. It also demanded that Peterson, who stopped practicing as a clinical psychologist in 2017, make the following public statement: “I may have lacked professionalism in public statements and during a January 25, 2022, podcast appearance [on The Joe Rogan Experience].”
Had Peterson publicly denied the Holocaust, doxxed individuals, or called for violence against one of his critics, then perhaps social-media training, at a minimum, would have been in order. He didn’t do anything like that. The complaints examined in the college’s original investigation included a tweet sarcastically mocking the left-wing caricature of his audience as “alt-right-wing-trolls,” his supposedly “dangerous” critique of body-positive beauty trends in Sports Illustrated as “not beautiful,” and his opposition to mask mandates.
Peterson rejected the college’s demands and took them to court, but on August 23, an Ontario divisional court sided with the college. “Requiring coaching following apparently unheeded advice seems a reasonable next step, proportionately balancing statutory objectives against Charter rights which are minimally impaired, if they are impaired at all,” reads the decision. “When individuals join a regulated profession, they do not lose their Charter right to freedom of expression,” the ruling says. “At the same time, however, they take on obligations and must abide by the rules of their regulatory body that may limit their freedom of expression.”
The troubling element of this ruling is how “rules” intended to advance professional standards are being used to curtail the free-speech rights of Ontario psychologists. “Peterson cannot have it both ways,” Judge Paul Schabas from the Ontario divisional court wrote. “He cannot speak as a member of a regulated profession without taking responsibility for the risk of harm that flows from him speaking in that trusted capacity.” This rationale, expressed by three Justin Trudeau-appointed judges in the case, stems from the far-left view that certain kinds of speech equate to violence. The purported “harm” from voicing these views provides the justification for suppressing speech.
In an email to several media figures and journalists (including myself), Peterson stated, “Free speech in Canada is no longer a right. Everything they objected to was political. No direct client complaints whatsoever. Critiques of Trudeau, his chief of staff, an Ottawa city councillor, the climate change fear mongers, the trans activists. . . . All no longer allowable.”
As a result of this political persecution, Peterson will now comply with the college’s decision but will also publicize his experience of taking the social-media training course. Canadians—and Americans—would do well to take note.
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