All steps necessary to protect his professional reputation

It turns out Jordan Peterson thinks you can sue people for uttering opinions.

In June, he threatened to sue Down Girl author and Cornell University assistant professor Kate Manne for defamation, after she criticized his book, 12 Rules For Life, and more generally called his work misogynistic in an interview with Vox. (Peterson previously filed a lawsuit against a university whose faculty members, in a closed-door meeting, argued that showing his videos in a classroom created an unsafe environment for students.) In letters to Manne, Cornell, and Vox, Peterson’s lawyer, Howard Levitt, demanded that all three parties “immediately retract all of Professor Manne’s defamatory statements, have them immediately removed from the internet, and issue an apology in the same forum to Mr. Peterson. Otherwise, our client will take all steps necessary to protect his professional reputation, including but not limited to initiating legal proceedings against all of you for damages.”

But saying his work is misogynistic is opinion, and opinion is protected.

Among the statements Levitt objected to: Manne’s contention that Peterson’s book included “some really eyebrow-raising, authoritarian-sounding, and even cruel things,” as well as her observation that “it doesn’t seem accidental that [Peterson’s] skepticism about objective facts arises when it’s conveniently anti-feminist.” The lawyer and his client were equally unhappy with this line: “I also suspect that for many of Peterson’s readers, the sexism on display above is one tool among many to make forceful, domineering moves that are typical of misogyny.”

So Peterson even wants to sue Manne for expressing an opinion about Peterson’s readers.

So far, Peterson hasn’t made good on his threat to file suit, though neither she, Cornell, or Vox have complied with his requests. “It’s a classic attempt to chill free speech,” Manne says. “Like many of his ilk, what he really seems to be demanding — when one examines his actions rather than words — is to be able to speak free from legitimate social consequences, such as other people talking back.”

Ironies abound, but one is that Manne — a young, untenured scholar who argues that misogyny isn’t about hatred as much as it is about enforcing hierarchies — is being threatened with legal action by an older man who ranks much higher than she does in the professional and cultural pecking order.

And the celebrity order and the 80 thousand dollars a month on Patreon order.

Another irony is that Vox’s Sean Illing wrote that he interviewed Manne precisely because she, “unlike many Peterson critics, actively engaged with his ideas.” Says Illing of Peterson’s saber-rattling, “I found the request absurd and forwarded it to our legal advisers, who confirmed that it was baseless, and then I happily ignored it. We did not alter the piece and we did not take it down.”

Baseless because no you can’t sue people for an opinion you don’t like. If you could we all would have sued Trump into the gutter two years ago.

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