Postmodernism stifles the truth in modern society, says professor
By Deborah Gyapong
Photo caption: University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson said postmodernism is motivating the mobs that shut free speech down on campuses.
Freedom of expression on university campuses must be fought for despite threats, said a Censorship on Campus panel Feb. 25 at the Manning Centre Conference.
John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, said his organization has helped a number of pro-life groups successfully sue student councils that prevented them from obtaining official club status.
Now, however, Carpay has observed a new trend. Pro-life clubs might get status, but when they book a speaker, authorities are “letting the mob enforce” political correctness by not doing anything to stop groups actively shutting speakers down.
“This is going to have a huge impact on the rule of law,” Carpay said.
Another way to shut down unpopular opinion is to charge exorbitant fees. Carpay said a University of Alberta pro-life club was told it had to pay $17,000 upfront for security to bring in a speaker.
He had several suggestions on what must be done to push back.
“Exercise your free expression rights,” Carpay said, comparing free speech to a muscle that becomes weak and atrophied if not used, and stronger the more it’s exercised.
“Do not be intimidated by name-calling,” he said. “If you self-censor, you are giving ground to the enemies of freedom. It’s better to die standing than to live on your knees.”
He also encouraged them to defend others, even if you disagree with their opinions. He pointed out the Justice Centre does not take a position on the issue of abortion, but defends campus pro-life groups because their free expression is being curtailed.
“It’s powerful when you say ‘I don’t agree with that viewpoint, but they have a right to say it,’” he said.
Carpay urged people to sign a Justice Centre petition to “remove taxpayer funding from universities that perpetuate censorship.”
Universities receive $13 billion in taxpayer dollars, but they are engaging in fraud if they say they foster free inquiry while suppressing freedom of expression on campus, he said.
He urged people to support groups like his that fight for freedom of expression, noting they depend on small donations of $100 to $500 to survive.
“When you are in a position where your freedoms are being violated, stand your ground,” he said. “Do not capitulate on the fundamental grounds of freedom of expression.”
University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson, who risked his job for protesting against the totalitarian imposition of transgender pronouns by human rights commissions, joined Carpay in urging people to speak up.
Peterson blamed the suppression of freedom of speech on postmodernism, a nihilistic philosophy that dominates the humanities and social sciences in academia. “You are up against it far more than you think,” he said.
“Postmodernism is totally opposed to western civilization,” he said. Postmodernism does “not believe in the individual; it does not believe in logic,” and it does “not believe in dialogue.” It also doesn’t agree with letting people speak, he said.
Individuals have no individual identity in postmodernism, he said. Instead identity is “group-fostered.”
Postmodernists performed a “Marxist sleight of hand” by moving from class-consciousness to make identity groups “the oppressed against the oppressor.”
“Postmodernism is the Hobbesian battleground of identity groups,” Peterson said.
Almost all education faculties have been infiltrated with this neo-Marxist agenda, and are interested in indoctrination rather than education, he said.
“Our society has to figure out how to stop shunting public money to left-wing groups.”
While admitting western civilization has its flaws, Peterson said, “You are heirs to a great tradition.”
Though not perfect, “it is superior to anything else that has ever been produced.”
“It is time for conservatives to stop apologizing for being conservative,” Peterson said. “They read apology as an admission of guilt.”
Peterson said those who speak up will pay a price, but they will also pay a price for not speaking up.
“Tell the truth,” Peterson said. “The truth redeems the world from hell.”