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As was promised in the aftermath of the infamous “Patreon purge,” Jordan Peterson has announced his free-speech platform, Thinkspot. Peterson, Dave Rubin, Sam Harris and various other members of the Intellectual Dark Web had been ruminating on the question of alternatives to Patreon after becoming disillusioned when several creators, notably Carl Benjamin, were banned from the platform.
Vague explanations and deceptive reasoning from the platform’s runners, particularly from the CEO Jack Conte, were the last straw since it appeared patently obvious that Patreon was willing to ban people based on ideology.
With the age of technology comes the reality that many people are building careers online, and their livelihood depends on their ability to create and share their content. As big tech companies become more transparent with their ideological bias and more influential in the political scene, prospects look grim for some who don’t necessarily toe the politically correct line. Obviously, this poses serious problems for those who want to engage in the battle of ideas and hinders the discourse in general.
Peterson’s new platform might very well offer something of an antidote for some of the cultural ailments afflicting us.
Peterson envisions it as a “collaborative community where individuals can explore ideas in a thoughtful and respectful manner. The platform is an intellectual playground for censorship-free discourse.”
According to Peterson, the platform will have a “radically pro-free speech Terms of Service.” He went on to say that “once you’re on our platform, we won’t take you down unless we’re ordered by a US court of law.” So creators will likely be immune from any mob or outrage machine, in other words.
It will provide a subscription service like its competitors and subsidize their creators directly. So far, advocates for free speech and fellow IDW members like Dave Rubin are set to be beta testers for the platform.
To encourage a robust exchange of ideas, Peterson hopes to create a culture of civility that will try to shift online discourse away from incessant trolling. In order to do this, one of the only rules in terms of expression regards comments. Emphasizing the need for “thoughtful” comments, Peterson says that there will be a minimum required length to impel people to put more thought into what they write and post. One of the other features is a voting one which emphasizes ratios. As Peterson explains, “If your ratio of upvotes to downvotes falls below 50/50 then your comments will be hidden, people will still be able to see them, if they click, but you’ll disappear.”
Brian Feldman of NY Mag has described the platform as a “place for people who know how to be racist and sexist in a more dog whistley way.” According to him, the effort is “very important to Peterson because he and his alt-right fan base need a safe space online to share controversial opinions and practice free thought.”
Well, if Feldman disabused himself of pathetic cynicism and smugness and actually read a thing or two, he’d recognize the lunacy of that smear.
He’s accurate when it comes to one thing, though. More than ever, we have needed a space to be able to share and exchange ideas without fear of reprisal, browbeating, and clampdowns. For the sake of the West’s cultural and political future, we need to inject enthusiasm for healthy Socratic debate and intellectual exploration.
This is a step in the right direction. And if people like Feldman can get over themselves, perhaps he’ll contribute to the respectful and much needed discussions that are bound to take place on the platform. I’m sure Peterson and Co. would love to have him.