- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2019

“12 Rules for Life” author Jordan B. Peterson says he is stunned at what appears to be “willful blindness” by the New York Times on threats to free speech.

The clinical psychologist and YouTube commentator Dave Rubin welcomed in the new year by announcing plans to leave Patreon on Jan 15. The move was prompted by the crowdfunding platform’s nebulous and seemingly arbitrary enforcement of rules regarding “hate speech,” in addition to the decision by credit card companies to involve themselves in such disputes.

Mr. Peterson, referencing a recent Times piece titled “Patreon Bars Anti-Feminist for Racist Speech, Inciting Revolt,” said the newspaper was showing a severe “lack of imagination” regarding ways the current debate may eventually boomerang back on journalists.

“There’s an old military adage, which is that if you invent a weapon it will be used by your enemy within 15 years,” he said Tuesday. “What makes the people who are on the left … what makes them so sure that exactly the same tactics won’t be used against them at the drop of a hat once the tactics have been validated and put in place?”

At issue is Patreon’s banning of YouTuber Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, who used a racial epithet roughly ten months ago during an interview. He agreed with his racist critics’ definition of the word for the sake of argument and then called them white versions of the insult.

SEE ALSO: Jordan B. Peterson: Leftists failing to identify ‘markers of pathological extremism’

Mr. Benjamin and his supporters say Patreon’s “trust and safety” team failed to put his words in their proper context.

Jaqueline Hart, Patreon’s head of trust and safety, told the Times on Dec. 24 that Mr. Benjamin was being difficult during the appeal process.

“His response to us when we told him about the reform process was to nitpick and say, ‘I was being anti-Nazi,’” Ms. Hart said. “You cannot say those words on our platform. It doesn’t matter who you’re directing them at.”

Mr. Rubin noted that Mr. Benjamin’s alleged infraction never occurred on Patreon.

“The entire story was built on quicksand,” he said Tuesday. “She doesn’t respond, nor does the New York Times issue any sort of correction about [how] the most fundamental piece of the story was a lie. They don’t have a problem doing that.”

“There’s another possibility,” Mr. Peterson added. “which is that they’re so opposed to the fundamental structures of the West … and regard them as so patriarchal and oppressive that they’d be willing to take the risk of sacrificing their own free speech to have their — what? Have their destructive way? Something like that. … For the New York Times not to understand that this threat is also a threat to everything upon which their entire organization has been predicated is also an indication of that same kind of willful blindness that we’ve been discussing.” 

Mr. Rubin added that the nexus between tech giants and the banking industry has brought some “deeply scary” debates to the cultural forefront.

“You’re opening a Pandora’s Box from hell,” he said.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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