Peterson specifically said that he would accommodate an individual request depending on how it was asked. So, he gets to decide whether someone gets treated with dignity or respect? Asshole indeed!

We already have significant restrictions to free speech in both the US and Canada and one of those is around discriminatory or harassing speech, as well as speech that knowingly causes severe emotional distress. The new Canadian law was simply adding this type of self-identification to the existing discrimination laws and the only reason Peterson balked is because he doesn’t like or respect trans people. End of story.

In the US, this is the guidance, “This tort basically allows recovery when the defendant engages in (1) outrageous speech or conduct that (2) causes severe emotional distress to the plaintiff, and (3) the defendant intends to cause such distress, or is aware of a high probability that the speech or conduct will cause such distress.” I imagine it’s much the same in Canada and also that someone with authority over you (such as a professor) refusing to call you by your self-identified pronoun might very well cause severe emotional distress. Is this an airtight and fool proof guideline? No, of course it’s not, but little in law or life is perfect. Finding the balance between a civil and a free society is tricky. Airing on the side of showing respect is always a smart way to go.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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