Many things happen when Jordan Peterson comes to the UK. His last visit’s gift to humanity was his half-hour interview with Cathy Newman on Channel 4. It birthed a myriad ‘so what you’re saying is’ memes, has been watched about 10 million times, and remains a perfect metaphor for ideological obtuseness in the face of facts, nuance and reason.
This month he is back in Blighty promoting his book 12 Rules For Life. He has addressed an audience at the Hammersmith Apollo where by all accounts his audience were roaring with admiration – perhaps the effect of finally being in a space where their opinions are not considered too wicked to be expressed. You know, those crazy, oppressive opinions about capitalism not being evil and 50% of the world’s population not being oppressed because they happen to be women.
Have the mainstream journalists of the UK woken up to the fact that this man is bright and knowledgeable beyond belief and can’t be manipulated into sounding like an extremist or coming out with sensational sound bites? Alas, judging by his appearance on The Wright Stuff yesterday the answer is no.
As Douglas Murray pointed out some time ago, an interviewer should consider it a gift to offer their audience the opportunity to consider points of view and information that they are unlikely to hear from any other individual speaking in the British mainstream today. Yet Matthew Wright still decided to spend the opening section of the interview trying to trick Peterson into coming across as a hateful conspiracy theorist. Unsurprisingly, Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party is on hand to push alt-right accusations his way as well.
But they backed off. Peterson’s razor sharp yet affable replies were so replete with facts that they exposed the intellectual bankruptcy and disingenuousness of his opponents’ questions. Wright and Walker demonstrated that they have watched the Cathy Newman interview enough to know when to stop digging, and allowed the rest of the interview to drift into bland and entirely unedifying chat – safe enough even for a British news program. What a disservice to their audience.
What this makes painfully clear is the appallingly low calibre of British mainstream TV journalism and wider discourse. All the debates we aren’t allowed to have – have been stopped from having by the activists who fall into apoplexy whenever issues of gender, identity, race or political ideology are discussed have moved online to places that some are calling the ‘intellectual dark web’, and have left the mainstream with only empty slogans about equality and diversity and dumbed-down narratives about Nazis and trolls which are obviously false to anyone who spends more than five minutes scratching below the surface.
If you ever want to expand your mind and hear a real discussion of these issues do yourself a favour one evening: stick The Rubin Report on the biggest screen you have in your house, pour yourself and your partner a glass of wine, relax and enjoy something better than anything you will have seen on regular TV in a long time. When I did this a few weeks ago with Rubin’s video of Bret and Eric Weinstein I suddenly found myself thinking shame, shame, SHAME on the BBC and all the rest of them; this man got over his initial biases, opened his mind and went on to create a series from a studio in his garage that is only distinguishable from the content of our main broadcasters in one way; it is infinitely and unspeakably better.