Political Correctness Debate, Featuring Stephen Fry, Jordan Peterson And Others

An interesting debate on the issue of “political correctness”, however one defines it, in popular culture, featuring among others the British actor and writer Stephen Fry and the Canadian academic and YouTube lecturer Jordan Peterson. The latter, of course, has become something of an internet star among the ideological alt-right or those who travel in its wake. He’s probably the nearest the movement has to an articulate intellectual, in contrast to no end of smug diatribists, consequently garnering considerable animosity outside the permeable borders of its bubble. Though, admittedly, a few of the more extreme characterisations of the professor’s opinions by his critics seem somewhat unfair. However, if you lie down with dogs don’t be surprised if others presume you are covered in fleas.

Stephen Fry is a rather more surprising figure on the “anti-PC” side in the televised debate, though he does represent the fuddy-duddy, slightly conservative version of British – or specifically, English – liberalism. He has come a long way since his early comedic career, much of which was devoted to satirising Establishment Britain, albeit out of intimate knowledge and familiarity with its stately homes and hallowed cloisters. More a case of him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in, to borrow an expression from Lyndon B. Johnson.

That said, I do have some sympathy for those who reject such ersatz notions as “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”, though I can see the merits of female-only rooms or gatherings in the short to medium-term given the poor behaviour of far too many men in contemporary Western society. In Ireland we have witnessed the latest examples of that in the headline-making news of the last few days, which are absolutely heart-breaking.

Have a watch and let me know what you think. And ignore the presenter’s somewhat OTT backslapping tone at the start, albeit partly in tribute to a late sponsor.



  1. “In Ireland we have witnessed the latest examples of that in the headline-making news of the last few days, which are absolutely heart-breaking.”
    For the benefit of us poor foreigners … please?

    1. Seamus seems to be saying that because there are rare incidences of male psychopaths abducting and murdering young girls, there should be all female, no males allowed, gatherings, until such time that Western men buck up their ideas and emmm… oh never mind Marconatrix, not for the first time Seamus is talking a load of old bollocks.

      1. The statistics tell us that the vast majority of psychopaths are male. But putting that to one side. I’m not adverse to the idea of female-only spaces, if there is a judged need for it. It’s not as if men are effected by this in the majority of cases. A women-only day at a local swimming pool is hardly going to lead to the end of Western civilization.

        A little bit of mental flexibility, of putting oneself in the shoes – or high-heels – of others can go a long way.

        1. Recent research is indicative that psychopathy rates between the genders are not as divergent as previously thought, but that due to societal framing and assumptions they were deferentially diagnosed based on gender.

          The brains of the genders are not so different, nor the formative experiences of childhood and adolescence so radically divergent that one would expect there to be radically divergent expressions of trauma of the mind based on gender. However, I would see that the differences in how society treats the genders would be the primary influence of how they are expressed and interpreted.

          The recent reproducibility crisis in the soft science fields means that a lot of what we thought was proven needs to be re-investigated and verified before one puts all their weight on it.

          1. I’m sure that socio-cultural factors are playing – or have played – their part in lowering or restraining sociopathic behaviour among women, but for violent behaviour there is much more going on than social conditioning. Unwarranted or random violent behaviour very much remains a male phenomenon. I’d suggest that biology is a major determinant here, even if we are still talking about a minority of men. However I have an open mind on the issue. Finding the truth or truths behind this is the most important thing.

            1. Violence is the manner in which the underlying psychological lesion is expressed. Not the psychological lesion itself.

              I would be very hesitant at looking to underlying biological differences driving differential psychological outcomes between the sexes. Gross and neural structural differences between sexes are very slight compared to external factors. Environment – toxins such as lead, nutrition during gestation and childhood, attachment disorders (limbic resonance) are the overwhelming determinant factors in psychological disorders. Further ancillary evidence undermining the biological differential hypothesis can be seen in twin studies which indicate the tremendous environmental component in these disorders.

              Take a wander to the JustNoMil and RaisedByNarcissists subreddits for a look at how prevalent mental disorder is in both sexes. Socio-economic context heavily influences how the sexes express and their expressions are interpreted. Sci-hub makes available journal papers for free and I would advise you take the time to read up on the area and I strenuously recommend you avoid continuing to think that there are any but minor neurological differences between the sexes as it is just not supported in the literature and dangerous conclusions generally arise from subscribing to that flawed idea.

              1. Thanks for that. Some interesting thoughts, for sure. As I said, I’m open-minded on the subject and though I’ve read a good bit of the literature I’m always happy to read more.

              2. I know you are which is why making the effort is worth it. We still really do not have much of a clue of how the mind and consciousness arise from the matter of the brain. In many ways our thinking and approaches are as invalid as phrenology, and there is the problem that it generally takes 20 years for the latest cutting edge research to filter out into the general population. Which is further compounded by the various passionate, political agendas and axe grinding that abounds.

                Only recently were the Wernicke and Broca areas dismissed as not really existing by the scientific community. The cliff face of research in the brain is moving rapidly and if you are not current with the published literature from scientific journals I would venture one is liable to be entirely incorrect as revolutions are occurring in the area at quite a rapid rate. Which is why I would caution a large, healthy degree of self-doubt and proceeding cautiously when thining about and discussing these areas.

    2. There have been two dreadful murders in recent days of women, possibly sexually motivated, which you can read about here and here.

      Both were particularly shocking and still relatively unusual for Ireland (though that is changing). Thankfully the widespread and deep felt revulsion expressed across the country means that we have not become immune to such things.

      Both were just awful. Heartbreaking, in fact.

      1. Dreadful, indeed. Ever since I started coming back to Ireland years ago, there were instances of intense animal cruelty by youngsters who were effectively growing up without parents. Frequent early drug abuse, sexual abuse of children by children in the same socio-economic construct, and bands of feral creatures akin to the movie “Legends” causing huge amounts of damage in physical vandalism and arson (Just had another event like this at an ALDI in recent times). When caught, the usual non-punishment, and a surprisingly astute, very sociopathic, non-emotional suspect of very young age. This was followed by instances of crime by adults that involved unusual amounts of torturous elements and gratuitous violence along with Meirican-style desecration of the dead, that to my knowledge was hereunto-fore not known in Ireland at that level of frequency. That this would eventually spill into the crimes against women recently observed, was, unfortunately, to be reckoned with. There were multiple instances of extreme physical violence for no other than violence’s sake against women, particular around the LUAS system preceding these events. Interesting times ahead.

  2. Well if you think a govt enforcing people to drop pronouns from their vocabulary because it might offend a bearded man who claims to be a woman, is progressive then I despair.

    1. I’m pretty much live-and-let-live or easy-going on all these things. To be honest, I have no problem with regarding someone who has undergone gender-realignment – or intends to – as a woman or a man, including the use of suitable pronouns and so on. Does that mean I think that such a person is a “real” man or woman in biological terms, if they have changed gender? No, of course not. Culturally and socially? Sure, why not. The latter are at least partly human-made concepts, not entirely nature-made ones, so why not adopt a bit of flexibility if it makes some people lives easier? It doesn’t mean that one has to adopt the more OTT attitudes demanded by a fringe number of trans-people. But like I said, live-and-let-live.

  3. I actually think it has never been better in “Western” society. Sexual harassment, racial, religious, sexual orientation disparages are greatly discouraged within business and government by most so-called “Western” states, and many more are held accountable now than just 20 years ago, or ever for such behaviour. I would venture to say that most people in the “Western” world find purposeful behaviour of that sort repulsive at a personal level as well. Not that it is perfect, but greatly improved, and it is continuing to improve. Especially when considering that outside of the “Western” world construct in many countries it has moved to the opposite, it’s not all bad. Many “Western” countries now provide safe spaces, colouring books, and moral support to those emotionally weak or with insufficient coping skills when faced with life not going their way, feared language, and people of other opinions – there they contemplate whether to burn alive or throw from buildings people of undesireable demographic. Having discussions about being more inclusive, even in language, is not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think most folks have a problem addressing someone in the manner they wish to be addressed, be it by a name or some title/pronoun. Being forced by the state to speak a certain way or to alter language for any political purpose, however, is wholly unacceptable (1984 really comes to mind when thinking about that).

    1. Broadly agree with all that. Very fair points.

      I certainly don’t agree with forcing people to adopt certain terms or expressions without understanding or explanation or coaching of society more generally. I’m probably a free speech absolutist. There are very few areas where people should be prevented from expressing their true feelings.

  4. “I do have some sympathy for those who reject such ersatz notions as “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”, though I can see the merits of female-only rooms or gatherings in the short to medium-term given the poor behaviour of far too many men in contemporary Western society.”

    Broadly agree to that sentence in its entirety. there’s a terrible danger in the adoption of sometimes (not always but sometimes) frivolous stuff like trigger warnings – or at least when those are used to shut down discussion and debate (can’t say I mind cuing up stuff ahead of time – like age ratings on DVDs, but I also think adults should mostly be able to engage constructively even with ideas that are problematic or difficult).

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