Free speech advocate, 'intellectual' and professional provocateur Jordan Peterson is suing a university for technically using free speech in a defamation lawsuit.
The controversial University of Toronto professor often says things that people disagree with, like when he suggested that 'enforced monogamy' would stop the rise of incels.
However, he has taken a major exception to two professors and a former gender and equity manager at Wilfrid Laurier University for comparing him to Adolf Hitler.
Peterson launched a $1.5 million defamation suit against the institute on Monday, after they labelled him incompetent, sexist, misogynist, dangerous, racist and "analogous to Adolf Hitler," reports the National Post.
This occurred during a disciplinary meeting of teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd, who was punished for showing students a clip of Peterson discussing gender-neutral pronouns.
The university did apologise for the incident, but Peterson believes that they failed to act in a proper manner. The 56-year-old told the Toronto Sun:
So I think this is a warning, let’s say, to other careless administrators and professors who allow their ideological presuppositions to get the best of them to be a bit more careful with what they say and do.
Peterson's lawyer is reported to have said that a university cannot slander someone of his status or compare him to Hitler - someone whose evils he had spent his career teaching against.
Howard Levitt, Peterson's lawyer, added:
The politically correct on campus should not think that they can defame people, slander people and bully people implicitly and explicitly with impunity.
This isn’t just some internet troll mouthing off in a way that no one pays attention to and doesn’t give any credence to.
These are professors and head of gender equity studies making comments that are atrocious about Dr. Peterson who is one of if not Canada’s most prominent intellectuals.
In response, the university has vowed to defend themselves and protect the freedom of expression. A statement from the school reads:
Laurier remains committed to intellectual inquiry, critical reflection, scholarly integrity, academic freedom and freedom of expression while striving to be a supportive and inclusive community.
Peterson's statement of claim is yet to be proven in court.
Last November, during the disciplinary of Shepherd, professors Nathan Rambukkana and Herbert Pimlott and Adria Joel, the acting manager of gendered violence prevention and support, heard how the teaching assistant had created a toxic environment for trans people after showing a clip of Peterson. In the clip, he claimed genderless pronouns were an infringement on free speech and academic freedom. The university did later confirm that no formal complaint about this incident had been made.
In the meeting, Peterson is claimed to have targetted trans students and that his research was not credible.
Howard Levitt is also representing Shepherd, who is filing a $3.6 million lawsuit against the school after claiming she had been "castigated to tears" by the "political correctness police".
The statement of claim says:
This has a significant impact on Peterson’s reputation among those with whom he deals, including fellow academics, future and existing students, the university where he works and those whom might read his books or listen to his lectures
Ironically, Peterson’s academic credentials are dramatically superior to those of either Professors Rambukkana or Pimlott.
Peterson is said to have added, "we'll see if two lawsuits make the point".