April 1, 2019
After being pulled, Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life is available again at Whitcoulls in New Zealand
by Ryan Harrington
About ten days ago we wrote that Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life was being pulled from a major New Zealand bookstore chain in the wake the anti-Muslim attacks in Christchurch. On a recent tour of the country, Peterson had posed for a photograph with a fan wearing a t-shirt that said “I’m a proud Islamaphobe”—so Whitcoulls bookstores deemed his work insensitive in light of the attacks.
The message of our original post could be summarized as “good on ya, Whitcoulls.”
But the situation seems to have reversed since then, as Alison Flood reports for The Guardian:
On Wednesday morning, Peterson tweeted that the chain had reinstated the book, with the Whitcoulls website showing that the title is in stock in its branches, but not online. The chain did not respond to requests for comment.
[ . . . ]
The move by Whitcoulls follows Cambridge University’s decision last week to rescind the offer of a visiting fellowship to Peterson, saying that the university 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.”
So we must re-assign our good praxis award to Cambridge University!
Peterson responded to the rescindment of the fellowship in a blog post, questioning, among other things, whether this was a majority decision, or the work of a few ideological puppets (I’m borrowing his phrase) with outsize influence in the university.
As with the original pulling of Peterson’s book, there will be cries of censorship. But there needn’t be. If even a few members of a self-selected community like Cambridge feel uncomfortable or disrespected when a problematic figure is on campus, then it is sensible and easy not to pay that person to come to campus. After all, only we can look out for each other and our chosen communities.
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.