Jordan Peterson, Caroline Farrow, Jayne Ozanne and the death of free speech

Rather than the Saturday review I am putting up this article which has just been published on Premier Christianity.  I am doing this because it is of direct relevance to yesterdays Quantum where all three cases are mentioned and because for me this is an even more important issue than Brexit.   Also by the time you read this I will be in hospital, hopefully recovering from an operation – this means that any comments you make may take a couple of days before appearing….Anyway enjoy the article

(I mention this in this weeks Quantum- why not subscribe – https://theweeflea.com/2019/03/22/quantum-34-east-african-cyclone-mosque-shootings-nigerian-slaughter-utrecht-islamaphobia-brexit-iranian-refugee-christian-misgendering-lgbt-indoctrination-afghanistan-cricket-john-stott/)

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Jordan Peterson, Caroline Farrow and the death of free speech

 

As the journalist Caroline Farrow claims the police want to question her for ‘misgendering’ someone and Cambridge University rescind their invitation to the popular psychologist Jordan Peterson on the basis that there is “no place” at the university for anyone who cannot “uphold our principles”, David Robertson wonders if we can still refer to the UK as a liberal democracy

There are certain values which are so foundational to our society that we take them as a given and always assume that they will remain. But when the foundations are being destroyed perhaps we need to sit up and pay attention – and strengthen what remains before it dies.

Western civilisation is based upon the four great freedoms as expressed in the first amendment of the US constitution – freedom of religion, assembly, the media and speech. Remove any one of those and we are no longer a Western liberal democracy.

Three events this past week in the UK serve as warnings that these basic freedoms are under threat. This threat comes not from Muslim extremists, or far right terrorists or any external political ideology. No, this threat has arisen from within.

When ‘misgendering’ becomes a crime

Caroline Farrow is a columnist, TV commentator and committed Catholic. Last Monday she was contacted by Surrey police (who clearly don’t have enough real crimes to tackle) and told that she was to be interviewed under caution for misgendering the daughter of the trans activist Suzie Green.

The tweets concerned the fact that Suzie Green allowed her teenage son to have sex-realignment surgery in Thailand which included penis removal (something that is not permitted in the UK). Farrow commented that in her view this was child abuse. Green denies this and says it was done with the best interest of her child, who is now identified as female.

The question at issue here is not whether you agree with either of these positions, but whether you are permitted to say what you think without attracting police attention! The bottom line is that today in modern Britain we have a journalist being investigated by the police because someone complained that what she wrote was hurtful. The fact that this story comes just days after a street preacher was wrongfully arrested shows how this is becoming a very serious problem in our society.

Excluded for ‘wrong’ beliefs

This week the divinity faculty in the University of Cambridge tweeted that their offer to Jordan Peterson of a visiting fellowship had been rescinded. (It is interesting that they chose this method of communication – they had not tweeted the offer in the first place. Are they playing to the Twitter mob?).

Peterson had been due to spend two months at the university, as part of plans to produce a lecture series about the book of Exodus.

The University told the Guardian “[Cambridge] is an inclusive environment and we expect all our staff and visitors to uphold our principles. There is no place here for anyone who cannot”. The fact that an academic can write such a chilling and contradictory tweet only shows just how far down the rabbit hole of intolerant irrationality some of our academic establishments have gone. How can an institution claim in one breath that they are an ‘inclusive’ establishment and then state that those who do not agree with them are excluded?!

Christians need to stand up for free speech – not just for ourselves but especially for those we would disagree with

Peterson responded in a scathing blog: “I think that it is deeply unfortunate that the authorities at the Divinity school in Cambridge decided that kowtowing to an ill-informed, ignorant and ideologically-addled mob trumped participating in an extensive online experiment in mass Christian and psychological education…I think that it is no bloody wonder that the faith is declining (and with it, the values of the West, as it fragments) with cowards and mountebanks of the sort who manifested themselves today at the helm.”

Peterson is correct. The theological faculties of many of our Universities have been used for decades to undermine the basis of the Christian faith, by adhering more to the cultural norms of the prevailing zeitgeist, rather than the Word of God. The disturbing thing about the Cambridge decision is that by giving in to mob rule, they have not only lost one of the most effective theological communicators (his lengthy lectures on Genesis have been viewed by over ten million people), but have shown themselves to be unworthy of the title of University – a place where different views are discussed, expressed and examined. Instead Cambridge are one of a number of academic establishments who would be better renamed Monoversities.

The new blasphemy

Free speech is not just being curtailed in law and in the academic world. Sadly the Church is joining in with its own version of the secular inquisition. Jayne Ozanne, whose ‘progressive’ credentials are now so impeccable that she has been appointed to the Government’s new LGBT Advisory panel, recently gave a lecture at the University of Oxford (no chance of her being banned!). Her argument makes the Surrey Police and Cambridge look positively libertarian. While recognising that free speech is the bedrock of any free society and democracy she adds a very important caveat. “I for one am a great believer in the importance of promoting a society that enables freedom of speech to the point that it does no harm.”

But who defines what harm is? The irony is that Ozanne complains about those in power abusing that power, while herself being in a position of great power – as a government advisor. A year ago I wrote about the danger of a new crime (spiritual abuse) being placed on the statue books – as advocated by Ozanne and the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS)- now known as 31:8. This is now coming to pass.

I hope we are all against ‘spiritual abuse’ and indeed ‘speech that does harm’ (or hate speech). The devil is however in the detail. I think liberal theology is harmful – does that mean I want liberal theologians silenced by the law? God forbid! We are entering a new era of blasphemy laws being enforced by the powerful – those who sit on government committees, academic institutions, corporate boards, media panels and police advisory groups. They are the new secular inquisition who will determine that anyone who does not accept their ideology or philosophy is committing blasphemy. To disagree with them is to be guilty of causing harm and hurt. We are the new heretics.

These are perilous times. Christians need to stand up for free speech – not just for ourselves but especially for those we would disagree with. Our heresy is to believe that the truth of Christ will ultimately overcome the lies of the Devil. If we really believe that then we have nothing to fear in the there being a free marketplace of ideas. Its time for us to stand up for free speech for all.

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9 thoughts on “Jordan Peterson, Caroline Farrow, Jayne Ozanne and the death of free speech

  1. As is all too often these days I find myself pretty much agreeing with you despite my strident atheism. I hope you will be fully recovered soon and if you have time we could maybe meet up for a chat and a coffee – uni, Perth road or wherever.

  2. “There are certain values which are so foundational to our society that we take them as a given and always assume that they will remain. But when the foundations are being destroyed perhaps we need to sit up and pay attention – and strengthen what remains before it dies.”

    I was struck just now by the similarity in thought between that early sentence of yours today, David, introducing your topic, and the following passage of my own, starting with the fourth sentence of a speech I gave in Houston, Texas on 30th July 2004.

    66

    Psalm 11 verse 3 asks, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”.

    There is something the righteous can do. The righteous can (and must) warn people, giving them the chance to “wake up” and “strengthen what remains”.

    Ezekiel teaches us that the watchman is obliged to warn his city, or civilisation, when he sees trouble ahead. Otherwise he will take the blame himself when things go wrong.

    Bishop Desmond Tutu said that when he heard Christians saying that politics and religion didn’t mix, he wondered what Bible they were reading. I feel the same.

    99

    Speech given by John Allman, Secretary of Christians Against Mental Slavery, at the Civil Rights Rally in Houston, Texas on 30 July 2004
    http://slavery.org.uk/HoustonSpeech.htm

    The particular topic of my speech in Houston (a technology called V2K) was different (and still controversial today), but in terms of my own testimony, that topic was closely related to my early warnings in the year 2000 onwards of the criminalisation by the state of what is nowadays referred to as “misgendering” now witnessed – i.e. the state’s persecution of those who refused to go along with LGBT doctrines that were not being promulgated 20 years ago anything like as aggressively as they are nowadays. My predictions of the criminalisation of “misgendering” were as controversial in 2000 as my warnings about V2K remain. In 2019, it has become mainstream to warn about the criminalisation of “misgendering”.

    During the summer of my Houston speech, I was also involved in resistance to the Gender Recognition Bill, a resistance which I continued alone into the following election year 2005, when others had given up with the enactment of the Gender Recognition Act, as documented here:

    Stop gender fraud!
    https://johnallmanuk.wordpress.com/2017/07/08/gra/

  3. Yes David you are spot on as usual.
    Thank you, Trust you recover well and we are going to miss you when you go to Australia.

  4. “[Cambridge] is an inclusive environment and we expect all our staff and visitors to uphold our principles. There is no place here for anyone who cannot”.

    I find it impossible to understand how one of the premier universities in the world can issue what is clearly an irrational, illogical, self cancelling statement. If there’s this level of insanity at the top, little wonder we see more and more madness in society at large.

    I wish the Wee Flea a speedy recovery from surgery.
    The world needs your voice David, and many more like it.

  5. “I for one am a great believer in the importance of promoting a society that enables freedom of speech to the point that it does no harm.” [Jayne Ozanne]

    What Jayne Ozanne wants to achieve is for it to be made illegal to communicate in any way that God regards homoerotic sexual intimacy as sinful. Her argument is that such teaching causes distress to people to the extent that they may commit suicide – namely that it does harm.

    The effect would be to prohibit teaching that allows same-sex attracted people to gain eternal life, while ensuring that as many of them as possible end up eternally separated from God. Given the harm that this results in, she has produced an argument for denying herself the freedom of speech to promote her own theological views.

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