It was up there with Gore Vidal vs. William F. Buckley, Chomsky vs. Foucalt, Michael Moore vs. Bill O'Reilly, Superman vs. Batman even… To use the parlance of Mortal Kombat, University of Toronto professor (and professional SJW hunter) Jordan Peterson executed a flawless victory against BBC presenter Cathy Newman. Probably one of the most beautiful things about the debate was the elegant forcefulness with which Professor Peterson methodically deconstructed her arguments and demolished her preconceptions and took a flamethrower to each strawman she threw in his path. It was very evident from the first that Newman was unfamiliar with Peterson's perspective and she made it painfully clear with continually pestering with "it sounds like you're saying" and "what I hear you saying." That's the issue though, not only in this debate but in many attempts at engaging discourse or debate across the ever-growing ideological and political divide.
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Most of the "debate" can be easily represented schematically with the use of a simple flowchart: Peterson says something >> Newman misinterprets >> Newman explains her misinterpretation >> Peterson corrects Newman, explains his statement >> Peterson summarizes his explanation in a statement >> Newman misinterprets, rinse and repeat ad nauseam…
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Another great highlight of the debate was when Newman abandons her line of questioning regarding the supposed "pay gap." As Dr. Peterson points out, the issue with the pay-gap myth is that it doesn't rely on multivariate analysis. Yes, on the whole men make more than women, but there are several reasons for this. Work leave related to raising a family, the fact that men and women often choose wholly different jobs and other issues are not taken into account when accounting for the suppposed "pay gap" between men and women. Another point that Peterson makes is how many women are too "amiable" to be good negotiators. Now, as Dr. Peterson points out, this is a generality, not a hard and fast rule. Women who are more assertive and aggressive may perform better in negotiations than certain men who have difficulty asserting themselves.
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Finally the Channel 4 presenter knew she was in over her head attempting to defend the pay gap myth against Peterson's summary debunking. As she was struggling to tread water, she channeled Lenny from <i>Of Mice and Men</i>.
"Tell me about the lobsters again, Dr. Peterson."
Peterson was making a point about how slow evolutionary adaptation occurs as far as neurochemical wiring goes. Good enough time as any to bring non sequiturs into the mix, right? Sure, why not ask Peterson if we "should arrange our societies like lobsters." The misrepresentations didnt even end at the end of the interview. Channel 4 had to call in security experts due to the "online abuse" suffered by Newman. The Independent went so far as to <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/cathy-newman-abuse-channel-4-jordan-peterson-metoo-backlash-latest-a8170031.html">report that the "misogynistic abuse"</a> was actually a backlash against the #metoo movement.
<blockquote>When white men feel they are losing power, any level of nastiness is possible, and much power has been ceded recently. Amid the steamrolling effect of the MeToo campaign, of the sudden dominance of gender equality in the news and amid the fall of many Great Men, here comes the whirling centre of the storm, when we have to fight harder than ever to be heard. We are in backlash season.</blockquote>
The Independent also points out that many of the detractors online commenting were especially "vicious" in their criticisms. But exactly how widespread and violent were these "vicious" attacks that merited a BBC sponsored security investigation? Analysis from the site Hequal points out that not only were none of the threats "credible enough" to merit any police response, but that 30 times as much abuse came from the corner of Newman's supporters.
Many of the "abusive tweets" that involved violent language would have to be as misinterpreted as Peterson's argument to be considered threats of any sort. "It was like logic <b>SLAPPED</b> my subconscious awake," "What <b>KILLED</b> it," "wouldn't know journalistic integrity if it <b>SLAPPED</b> you several times…" Do these sound like credible threats of violence in any way? Then there's the Newman corner. Twitter verified journalist (and former reporter for the Guardian) applauded Newman for not having punched Peterson and in a subsequent reply to that initial comment admitted that she "would have punched him." Bevan's tweet was retweeted seven times and liked 45 times. Even Newman herself retweeted Bevan (all the while complaining about how "vicious" her detractors were for saying she lacked logic and argumentative prowess).
<h3> Hequal Breakdown: By the Numbers</h3>
According to <a href="https://hequal.wordpress.com/2018/01/22/cathy-newmans-feminist-fans-sent-30-times-more-violent-sexist-abuse-to-peterson-his-supporters-than-vice-versa/">Hequal's analysis</a>, the "violent" tweets are as follows:
Non-sexist violence aimed at Newman or her supporters: 2
Sexist violence aimed at Newman or her supporters: 0
Non-sexist violence aimed at Peterson or his supporters: 8
Sexist violence aimed at Peterson or his supporters: 55
Claims that Newman was "intellectually raped" in the debate are not threats to violate Newman's person. “It was disgraceful how he raped her with his man words.” Once again, not quite a threat of rape, is it? Smacked shows up five times, 3 of which are referring to how badly Newman was "verbally smacked around." In fact the closest to a genuine threat was, once again, nowhere near one in actuality:
<quote>“The only way it could’ve been more humiliating is if he had flipped her over his knee and gave her a smack live on air.”</quote>
One apparent Peterson supporter did tow the line towards a threat (at least as much as verified Twiterer Bevan did): “I’m trying to rewatch the Jordan Peterson/Cathy Newman debate and I have NO idea how he kept his cool after she intentionally kept misrepresenting what he was saying. He spent half the interview correcting her about his arguments. I would’ve hit her -.- “ from Twitter user Lady Cthulhu. When analyzing the term "punch" the most nearly credible threats of violence are obvious. One surly Twitter user/sockpuppet (with an impressive 8 followers) referred to Newman as the type of feminist “that should be punched in the mouth but isn’t.” Newman supporters punched back equally as hard (or harder). “Never forget @cathynewman is flippin’ marvellous. That guy she interviewed was just grotesque. Must have taken huge self-control not to punch his smug face live on air.“
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Peterson was at least equally within his rights to call out the "vicious" misandrist and violent comments from the Newman camp. However he's about as likely to do that as world leaders are to decide that the best thing we can do for society at large is to model our society on that of lobsters.