Rachel Stewart on Jordan Peterson and free speech

I really done care much about Jordan Peterson, but free speech issues that he ignites are important.

Peterson has a lot of supporters (almost cult like), seems to do good for some people, but also says some crappy things, either because he has crappy ideas (in my opinion) or is being deliberately provocative. Much of the publicity he gets is thanks to people trying to shut him up.

Media might see it as click bait fodder, but at kleast they are promoting understanding and discussion.

Peterson obliged with some provocative stuff:

Jordan Peterson, the Canadian celebrity psychologist and author currently on tour in New Zealand, has a thing for shock pronouncements. “The idea that men have been preferentially treated as a group across history is an absurd idea,” he told me in a half-hour interview this morning.

“Diversity, inclusivity, equity, all of those things together make up a very toxic brew.”
And: feminists have an “unconscious wish for brutal male domination”.

He’s said several times it’s wrong to believe the victim in rape cases. I asked him if he accepts the need to treat rape victims in a way that avoids revictimising them. As the video clip, taken from the full interview, reveals, he doesn’t think we need to do that.

In his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos,, Peterson argues that the problem with the world is we have fallen prey to Chaos, so we need to restore Order. Order, by the way, is masculine and Chaos is feminine.


Simon Wilson’s full video interview with Jordan Peterson will appear on the NZ Herald website on Saturday, February 23. His feature article on the interview and Peterson’s town hall speaking tour will appear in the newspaper and online the same day.

Why hold it back until Saturday?

I don’t understand why so many people flock after Peterson, and especially pay to hear him talk when he is easy to find online. NZ tickets are $140-170 a pop. Youtube is free.

I understand why some people take offence at some of what he says – I think that some of what he says is offensive.

But jumping up and down and trying to shut him down is doing the opposite, giving him the publicity and revenue he seeks.


Left versus left in TERF war

A column by Rachel Stewart in the Herald on Wednesday stoked up the TERF war on the left. This is an ongoing and often vitriolic debate:

3 September (YourNZ) – Transphobic TERF wars of words

28 November (NZ Herald) – Rachel Stewart: TERF a derogatory term to shut down debate

Stewart did make a conspiracy claim that warrants questioning:

Sure enough, American transgender lobby groups are being funded by the likes of billionaires Warren Buffett and George Soros. Why? Because investors want to help normalise the altering of basic human biology, and Big Pharma stands to make a fortune. It’s already started.

But the TERF battle received the most attention:

TERF stands for ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist’ and is used as a way of denigrating any woman who questions the current craze of people – overwhelmingly men – who say they were born into the wrong body.

Basically, it’s a derogatory and offensive label and is used to shut down debate on the fraught subject of transgender rights.

Just a cursory glance on social media quickly provides enough evidence to prove it’s anything but a neutral term – as users often claim. It’s common to see slogans like “Kill all TERFs”, and who’re often described as Nazis, fascists and bigots.

This just inflamed things.

Daring to question this, I’m now regularly referred to as a TERF. Boxed up, compartmentalised, and considered fair game by those who enjoy hunting in packs online.


Unfortunately that’s the nature of a lot of online ‘debate’ – personal attacks are rife. In this case it is largely left wing versus left wing.

The power of debate is being overrun by the power of berate, and worse.





Disturbing allegations of online death and rape threats

There’s been quite a bit of online comment lately about females getting serious threats of harm.

1 News: James Shaw ‘really furious’ female colleagues Marama Davidson and Golriz Ghahraman are subjected to threats online – ‘I don’t face that as a white male’

Mr Shaw told TVNZ 1’s Q+A current affairs programme he was “really furious” that his colleagues are subjected to “constant sustained attack” from people making threats against them.

“I don’t face that as a white male – certainly not nearly to the same extent,” Mr Shaw said.

Apart from a spate of attacks and threats over a few months in 2015 and 2016 I don’t get attacked on Twitter, but I don’t tweet very much, and I’m not well known like an MP is.

Ms Davidson tweeted in July that she had received “death threats towards me and my kids from supporters of those two who Goff refused to hire a venue to”.

Ms Ghahraman said in May she has also been subjected to threats online, including threats of sexual violence, and said social media networks like Facebook need to take more responsibility.

I don’t venture much into political stuff on Facebook either. I have seen some examples of threats, and also of more general attacks, so have no reason to doubt their claims. It is an insidious problem that females in particular seem to suffer from.

On Twitter today:

From my perspective, this is an extremely well-timed piece. It’s fast becoming mostly madness on here. So why do we keep doing it? Are we masochists?

During the last 24 hours, I’ve received well over a dozen death and rape threats.

That’s an alarming claim.

I haven’t counted them all. I’m not worried or frightened or scared. Or even angry. I’m just completely inured to it. And that’s not a healthy way to be.

It’s extremely unhealthy for online discussions and socialising.

Now, some will argue that I poked the viper with *that* tweet so what did I expect? That’s one (strange) way of looking at it. The other is that an online world where this stuff is par for the course, is very sick indeed. Do I need to be part of it? Something I need to consider.

The fact that I feel absolutely nothing/zero/zilch about being threatened and called every name under the sun, is a sure sign I’ve stayed too long at the online party. Might be time to call a cab and go home. Before the sun comes up.

That would be an unfortunate response, because that would appear to be the aim of those gutless nameless pricks (I think they are mostly men), to drive off voices they disagree with.

Well, it’s been an eye-opener. That’s for sure. I never really paid the whole issue much attention before. But now I see what the all the fuss is about. Politicians, journalists, and the public should be very concerned about what is happening. But, they’re not.

There are multiple herds that take intolerance to intolerable levels.

Perhaps there’s some way some of the online community can get together and brainstorm ways of trying to deal with this, without shutting up, and trying a counter shut down of voices.


“What really bothers me about much of the ‘new left'”

Rachel Stewart is, amongst other things, a columnist for NZ Herald. I don’t think there is any question that she is fairly left leaning in her political views and preferences. She tweeted yesterday:

Trotter has been prominent in his promotion of free speech in relation to the Auckland Council exclusion of a couple of obscure but apparently controversial Canadians from speaking at a council owned venue.

He has added his support to the Free Speech Coalition that plans to file proceedings against the Auckland council today or tomorrow, after raising $50k in a public appeal last week.

This legal challenge has been strongly discredited by some because of the support of people like Don Brash.

The Trotter post that Stewart was referring to: Free Speech Denialism Is Fascism In Action

Whose Hand Is That? Fifty years ago, nine-out-of-ten people would have nominated the totalitarian regimes of the Soviet bloc or Third World dictatorships as the most likely suppressors of free speech Today, the likelihood is that a substantial minority – maybe even a majority – of the population would nominate the “politically correct” Left as the most direct threat to freedom of expression in the West. How did that happen?

IT HAS BEEN DISPIRITING, this past week, to learn how little people who consider themselves leftists know about fascism.

As the recent torrid exchanges between the defenders of free speech and the opponents of right-wing Canadians Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux have made clear, the word “fascist” now denotes little more than conservative views provocatively expressed.

So torrid did these exchanges become that, by the middle of the week, the opponents of Southern and Molyneux were reduced to making the extraordinary assertion that “there’s no such thing as free speech”.

For a free speech denialist to use the sacrifices made by the millions of men and women who fought and died for these goals, in order to justify and encourage the vitriolic verbal abuse of individuals who continue to stand for Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” is beyond despicable. It does, however, makes dispiritingly clear the sheer scale of the political ignorance and hatred against which all genuine defenders of human rights and freedoms continue to struggle.

Free speech denialism also confirms the observation that as the economic and social climate deteriorates, the normally linear configuration of the political spectrum becomes distorted. In effect, the spectrum curves around until the extremes of left and right are practically touching one another and the middle-ground is further away from them than ever. As the political static increases, the gap between left and right is closed by an arc of white-hot intensity. It is in the baleful brilliance this exchange that the events of the past week have been illuminated.

It has not been pretty.

Stewart followed up:

It’s a tactic, of course. Hate on the person, get others to do it too, and voila. Nothing that person ever says or does again is worth diddly squat. Effective too.

This is a very common tactic used online, on Twitter, Facebook and on some political forums and blogs. It is not confined to one political leaning.

Bullies love that shit, and it’s rampant on this platform. Tribalism will be the death of us. Think for yourselves.

And, of course, the more fractious and brutal to each other we become, the more the planet hurtles towards everything we don’t want. That suits the Trumps of the world so damn well, you have no idea.

I agree with Stewart.

The shit fighting, shaming, bullying and frequent attempts to shut people up is a detriment to political discussion and to making progress on important political and social issues.

The active shit fighters, be it from the radical left or radical right, are being counter productive.

It isn’t just the load mouthed bullies that are a problem. There is a lot of putting down and attempting to shut people up in doublespeak language.

Phil Goff claimed inclusiveness was important to him and his council – at the same time he tried to defend excluding some people from using council owned venues.

Another common tactic to try to discredit views is to say things like if you have not supported free speech in the past you have no right to speak on it now.

And also if you are not of a deprived underprivileged underpowered minority you should shut up and let them speak.

There has to be a way of giving more voice to some without arbitrarily taking voice off others.

It is in’t a simple issue. There are serious problems with bullying online, and those bullies and abusers are deliberately working against free speech and fair debate. This needs to be confronted.

But attempts to selectively shut people up, whether done nastily or couched in niceness, is a pox on out democratic discourse.

This is a real problem with the ‘new left’, but it isn’t only the new left that is shitting in their own nest.

Wishing some of you a septic shitty day

For some reason Bryce Edwards included this tweet in his Political Roundup: Police apologise to Nicky Hager for ‘dirty politics’

Actually that was yesterday. She may or may not be as shitty livered about anyone she seems to be of an alternate political leaning.

This sort of septic shit throwing, and it is sadly not uncommon, is one of the things that gives politics such a bad reputation, and deters many people from engaging or bothering to following anything political.

Last year before the election Stewart asked Are we in the dying days of democracy?

Are we in the dying days of democracy and, if so, can humanity survive it?

In a world gone mad – or, at least, out and proudly neo-liberal – democratic values appear to have entered the ever-tightening circles of the death spiral. The ground is fast rising up to meet them.

If society feels less moral reverence to the democracy ideal, who can honestly blame them? Having listened to Clinton and Trump battle it out for a year before the unthinkable became real, I get it.

Seeing how Stewart lashes out at swathes of people she disagrees with politically, I get it.

Indeed, our fair land does not fare well in the democracy stakes. Despite political party zealots all primed and pumped for the looming election, the electorate may not share their jaunty enthusiasm.

Things changed somewhat after that, but Stewart seems as bitter as she did then, if not more so.

“Don’t feel sorry for farmers”

On Rachel Stewart at NZH:  Don’t feel sorry for farmers

The urban/rural divide. Is it as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon? Or just a small hop across a watercress-filled ditch? Let’s explore.

Ten days to go and what does National do when they’re anxious about losing power? Why, play to their rural base of course.

There’s a theme, and a meme, emerging. It goes exactly like this: “This election there is a clear divide between those that want to work with farmers and those that want to punish them.”

National, along with their Siamese twins Federated Farmers, are pushing the notion that the so-called “rural/urban divide” is dire, while also ensuring it couldn’t be wider. Why? Because it ensures the chip on farmers’ collective shoulders is as weighty as possible. The current government wants them to feel as hard done by and as misunderstood as can be.

Rarking up the rural base is their comfort zone. By structuring their messaging directly to farmers, they are attempting to cream every last vote from a sector that, deep down, knows that it too is on the ropes. Maybe they’ll even score a sympathy vote or two from those who still hold on to some misty-eyed idea that farming is still all family-run, and the fields are green due to rain.

This crude attempt to highlight the “rural/urban divide” is, in reality, a one-sided affair. Farmers seriously think that know-nothing townies are lining up to strip them of their livelihood; their rugged essence. They see their place in the world as exalted and beyond question.

…I was invited to speak to a Federated Farmers provincial AGM last year, and suggested that they might like to think about their messaging; about maybe front-footing the changes that were clearly coming. I talked synthetic milk and plant-based meat products, and how sheer human numbers on the planet means it’s a certainty.

For my time, I received unreserved disrespect via turned backs and spurned handshakes. A year on, I wonder if those in the room that day have ever stopped to reflect on even one word I said.

Brace yourself for more of this as we head into the final days of the election. The message is this: Farmers are suffering, but the environment is not.

Chrism56 commented:

Another one of the media bubble latte set puts up a Labour defence about how bad farmers are. She complains about using labels to shut down debate, then does it herself. Just helps drive the last few wavering rural/ provincial votes to National and lower Herald sales.

In her article Stewart referred top ‘National, along with their Siamese twins Federated Farmers’. She had gone further in a tweet in Monday (for some reason she blocks me on Twitter):


I think that is quite offensive. If anything like that on Twitter targeted Jacinda Ardern all hell would break loose. The Twitterati didn’t seem to think it was a big deal, although someone reacted:

Stewart describes herself: Columnist, New Zealand Herald. Yet, somehow, so much more.

Other recent NZH columns:

Waatea 5th Estate

I got around to watching Waatea 5th Estate for the first time since their first week tonight.

Joining us tonight to discuss…

The Veitch apology
Faulty Housing data
Media Merger kills 4th estate
Cameron Slater
Key’s tantrum

Tax expert, feminist and Labour Party Candidate – Deborah Russell

one of this country’s best newspaper columnists – Rachel Stewart

Former Green Party MP and human rights activist – Keith Locke

And blogger, political commentator and author – Chris Trotter

Some of it was interesting enough.

Russell and Trotter made some good points – not leaning to port so hard they nearly capsize helps.

But Bradbury is terrible, his presentation and voice, and also his fairly extreme bias. His first programmes were tolerable but he is more opinionated and more overbearing and more high pitched. I don’t see him taking over from the 4th estate any time soon.

And the name screetched by Bradbury isn’t great, Waatea is pronounced something like Waah teah.