ContraPoints does a fun job analyzing and critiquing Jordan Peterson. I went into it never having seen a video by ContraPoints before, and I wondered if, based on the name, it would just be about countering views, but might fail to adequately represent the original view in the first place. I expected that it would explore the primary issue surrounding Jordan Peterson: his stand against gov enforced use of gender neutral pronouns in Canada. In the show, the narrator did a surprisingly good job exploring Peterson’s larger philosophies but didn’t make the case for gov enforced pronouns other than saying, “the very idea of people requesting different pronouns to suit their individual needs is exactly the kind of thing a person who values individual liberty over collective dogma should be on board with.“
In a 28 minute video she only directly addressed his point once. This is the whole ground upon which he went public in opposition to the Canadian Gov move to force pronoun usage, and is the main reason for the opposition to him from the left. So to spend over 20 minutes exploring his ideas, some of which was actually quite positive, making love to his effigy, and a significant amount critiquing his larger philosophical framing and ideas, but to wind up making such a mild and problematic single statement on the forced pronoun issue is a bit telling and suggests that she actually doesn’t have a good contra point for it.
The problem with her one liner is it is internally contradictory if put into context, or else it’s completely missing the point if taken out of context.
The internal contradiction is between the idea of individual liberty and the idea of getting on board with something. To say that someone who values the former should inherently do the latter is implicitly contradictory. Then when you add the fact that the thing one would be getting on board with is removing individual liberty by force of law and threat of punishment, the contradiction is even greater.
The other problem with her statement is that he is not objecting to someone requesting a different pronoun. He’s said he’s happy to have that conversation with individuals. Given that she’s not even accurately representing his point, she’s making her own point irrelevant.
Instead he’s objecting to someone being backed by gov power to force someone else to use any pronoun they wish. That is forced speech and is prone to abuse of power. It’s a power trip. And nothing in her 28 minute video really directly addressed this. She made some other interesting points about his larger philosophies and accused him of using straw man tactics and psychobabble to win debates and confuse his interviewers, but all of that is beside the above main point. In fact my impression is that she herself used a lot of psychobabble and red herrings, er lobsters, to draw the viewer away from the main point.
My take away is that she confirmed my question, based solely on the name, wondering whether the show would be mainly about finding contradictions and counter points but might fail to adequately represent the main point that it’s attacking in the first place. This appears to be the case, at least with this episode.