Jordan Peterson Discusses Authoritarianism With An Intelligent Student

The video below opens with a student posing the question to Jordan Peterson as to whether an absolute right to free speech of all individuals, barring examples such as incitement to violence, in fact hinders the primary purpose of free speech, which is the pursuit of truth.

He elaborates on this thought process by using examples of the radicals on the left and the right that we see so often in modern times, where they are often the ‘loudest voices in the room,’ but are often lacking substance in their arguments. This group of individuals are often not interested in genuine debate, and consider it an offense when someone has the nerve to disagree with their ideology. Even more alarming is when they consider it a victory having been successful in shutting down the opposing points of view.

For these reasons, some people who may have an opinion contrary to the bombastic agitators, may feel that it is not worth their sacrifice of being verbally (and in some cases physically) attacked through ridicule and victimization, simply for stating their opinion. Their cost-benefit analysis in the short term does not warrant the risk. However, in the long term, if this trend continues, when taken to the extreme, the only opinions that will be heard are those of the radicals seeking to shut down dissent which can only lead to tyranny and chaos – as we have seen happen in numerous examples over the last 100 years.

The question being posed, is whether there is a benefit into having these types of individuals speech ‘curtailed’ in order to be able to pursue truth. To which Jordan Peterson responds, ‘well there is a very simple answer to that, which is yes, but I’ll elaborate.’ Jordan Peterson states that he doesn’t view favorably laws governing hates speech, but that he is not naïve to the fact that there is obviously hate speech.

He speaks about certain restrictions already placed on what is considered acceptable discourse such as incitement to violence. He mentions the fact that it is the case that some individuals have the privilege of enjoying a greater realm of free speech for various reasons. He delves into the power element as an example of this privilege. ‘Power is the one of the means by which people climb hierarchies.’ However, the more an individual is able to climb a hierarchy as a result of accumulation of power, the more indications there are that hierarchy has become corrupt.

Jordan Peterson mentions that he believes that free speech should be ‘left alone as much as you possibly can. Not because that will result in the perfect conditions for free speech, but because anything else that you’re likely to do is going to make it worse rather than better.’

As the discussion progresses the unpacking of why free speech should as unhindered as possible is elaborated on. Let people say their hateful speech so that it is out their in the open, and society at large can reject it. The belief that hate speech can be eliminated, which is some thing radical ideologues pretend to be plausible, is foolish. The better scenario is having it out in the open so that people are able to hear as many sides of an argument as they can muster, and make decisions for themselves as to what they deem useful and reject the rest.

It is the fault of radicals being under the impression that those with whom they disagree are intellectually inferior, and are only disagreeing because of being ‘brainwashed’ by things such as media. The more likely scenario is that individuals may agree with radicals on various aspects of their views, but perhaps not a lot of it, and certainly not in its entirety. It is for this reason that free speech is crucial so that individuals with differing points of view are able to freely engage in a debate of ideas, and observers of the discussion, even participants in the discussion, are afforded the opportunity to hear as many sides of the argument as possible and come to their own conclusions on the basis of the evidence at their disposal as well as their personal experience.

The video covers the topics mentioned above in more depth and detail and additional topics not mentioned above.

WATCH the exchange here:

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