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Whitcoulls, a major New Zealand bookstore with 50 shops nationwide, has removed Dr. Jordan Peterson’s best selling self-help book 12 Rules for Life from their shelves in the wake of the deadliest terrorist attack in the country’s history.
On March 15, a deranged gunman attacked two mosques in Christchurch in an act of Islamaphobic hate. It didn’t take long for the politicization of this unspeakable tragedy to begin. Within minutes, politicians, pundits, and keyboard warriors were attacking each other based on ideological differences.
The Daily Dot, an embarrassingly progressivist outlet, used the tragedy as an opportunity to slander the popular YouTuber PewDiePie as a “Nazi”, a claim with absolutely no basis in fact.
Now the mob is once again coming after Dr. Peterson—another major cultural influencer. The decision to ban Dr. Peterson’s book can not be seen as anything other than a straight-up power grab by authoritarians who wish to use a period of mourning and deep human suffering for their own censorious gain. And it comes directly after Cambridge University’s decision to rescind their offer of a two-month visiting fellowship for Peterson.
Nick Monroe, an independent, Twitter-based journalist found the evidence of the banning on Reddit and put in on blast in a tweet early Thursday morning:
The tweet features a screenshot of a customer service rep’s email to an enquiring customer. In it, the rep named Erica writes, “Unfortunately, 12 Rules for Life is currently unavailable, which is a decision that Whitcoulls has made in light of some extremely disturbing material being circulated prior, during, and after the Christchurch attacks. As a business which takes our responsibilities to our communities very seriously, we believe it would be wrong to support the author at this time.”
Monroe pointed in the same Twitter thread that Hitler’s Mein Kampf remains on Whitcoulls shelves. A brief browse of Whitcoulls’ inventory reveals that they are selling Mao’s Little Red Book. They also haven’t pulled all of the books Peterson is associated with, just the major sellers. Vox Day—an actual member of the alt-right—still has his book available in Whitcoulls stores.
Though Peterson is the farthest thing from an alt-right figure, wasn’t even remotely involved in the attacks, actively discourages violence, and, in fact, wrote 12 Rules for Life in order to help people figure out how to get their lives in order, he has been smeared again and again by leftists who associate his message of competence and responsibility with one of “violence.” For Peterson’s readers and listeners, this hasn’t made any sense, and continues to be perplexing. The only logical reason for ideologues to do this is to remove his influence from our culture.
This dangerous trend banning books, and associating relevant and meaningful ideas with violence and destruction must reverse, though it seems like it’s just beginning. Ideas are not the enemy, books are not the enemy, reasonable thought and discourse are the way out of mayhem, not what is standing in the way. People are not going to get on board with a given perspective simply because alternatives are denied to them. Intellectual exploration is what makes peaceful democracies, open minds, and reasonable thinkers who do not advocate for hate and exploitation. Assuming that Peterson is more dangerous than Nazi ideology, or even to associate his scholarship with anything like that, is to give credence to authoritarianism.
If reasonable ideas are banned, if forthright authors are prohibited, what happens when people discover them on their own? When you deem a perfectly reasonable book worthy of censorship, what does that do to society’s conception of truly dangerous ideas? The worst ideas of mankind should be shown for what they are, in the fluorescent light of bookshop displays.
The idea that a Canadian psychologist with classically liberal views and a desire to help young people lead authentic lives should be in any way associated with the horrific act of violence that happened in Christchurch is an insult to him, to reasonable minded people everywhere, and to the western concept of a free society.
We must put a stop to this Orwellian madness before it’s too late.