This post is mostly about Jordan Peterson, explaining his popularity and the great mass of memes in his name. I’ve added some funny posters, too.
I’d been aware of Jordan Peterson for some time because the University of Toronto psychology professor took a stand against Canadian law forcing people to put language to the service of transgender identities. As is true for me, Peterson is willing as a courtesy to use someone’s preferred pronouns, but government coercion is another thing entirely. So yay, Prof. Peterson!
Jordan Peterson is also the author of a non-fiction book that’s been parked at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list for a while: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I like the principles he espouses, which he sums up in a Prager U video that very coincidentally just came out this morning:
I agree completely with Peterson’s principles. While it’s true that I enjoy whining (I enjoy it the way some people enjoy jogging or gardening), I know that, ultimately, I am responsible for myself and my happiness. If I were in a North Korean concentration camp or, indeed, anywhere in North Korea, things would be different. But I live in the greatest nation on earth and am truly blessed to have material comfort, physical health, and great children.
As the above suggests, Jordan Peterson is the real deal: an incredibly smart, principled man who has serious, solid ideas about how people can improve themselves and, just by being useful and happy, make the world better.
None of the above, though, was enough to elevate Peterson beyond fame into viral fame. What did that was an interview the BBC’s Cathy Newman did with him. Initially, the video went viral because Peterson defended our right as citizens of a free world to say offensive things — and he did it so cleverly and with such good will that he silenced Newman completely.
The video went even more viral, though, for a secondary reason: Newman’s relentlessly misstated everything Peterson said and, to his credit, Peterson showed relentless equanimity and good will, even as he schooled Newman for her myriad errors. If you haven’t already watched the 30 minute video, you must:
The video generated lots of posts, but my two favorite come from Neo-Neocon and (of all people) the Atlantic’s Connor Friedersdorf. In the former, Neo-Neocon carefully examines the intelligent psychological techniques Peterson uses to disrupt Newman’s attempt to impose her agenda on him. In the latter, despite a purely gratuitous swipe at Fox News, Friedersdorf gives a detailed look at the way Newman consistently mangled and misinterpreted Peterson’s every word.
It’s this last — Newman’s mangling — that has yielded a bonanza of memes. I’ve assembled some of the funniest here. After you’ve scrolled through them, you find a few more funny posters, including a brilliant State of the Union cartoon: [Read more…]