I’ve been following University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson’s battle against political correctness very closely the past few weeks. I’ve attended and filmed both protests, discussed the issue with people on both sides, and helped get a retraction from an organization that mistakenly claimed one of Peterson’s supporters made a Nazi salute.
I’ll be publishing an in-depth report in the next few days, but big news came out today that left me feeling the need to point out the hypocrisy of the University of Toronto’s administration.
Arts and Science Dean David Cameron and Faculty and Academic Life Vice-Provost Sioban Nelson sent a letter to Professor Peterson telling him to stop making public statements. Peterson responded saying “it doesn’t surprise me because it is the fact that such things are happening that was the motivation for me to make the damn videos to begin with.” And, boy was he ever right!
But how does this align with the university’s Mission Statement?
“The University of Toronto is dedicated to fostering an academic community in which the learning and scholarship of every member may flourish, with vigilant protection for individual human rights, and a resolute commitment to the principles of equal opportunity, equity and justice.
Within the unique university context, the most crucial of all human rights are the rights of freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of research. And we affirm that these rights are meaningless unless they entail the right to raise deeply disturbing questions and provocative challenges to the cherished beliefs of society at large and of the university itself.
It is this human right to radical, critical teaching and research with which the University has a duty above all to be concerned; for there is no one else, no other institution and no other office, in our modern liberal democracy, which is the custodian of this most precious and vulnerable right of the liberated human spirit.”
The university states that freedom of speech is “the most critical of all human rights”. They claim that this right is “meaningless” unless it entails the right “to ask deeply disturbing questions”. They state that universities are the “custodian” of these rights. Yet, they responded to Jordan Peterson’s questioning of a proposed federal law by crushing his “liberated human spirit” and telling him to shut up.
The University of Toronto does a great job talking the talk in their Mission Statement- that said, it’s completely meaningless if they’re not prepared to walk the walk…