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WSJ Criticizes Jordan Peterson ‘Re-education’ Campaign by Psych Board Over Twitter Posts

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: January 6, 2023
Portrait of Jordan Peterson at The Cambridge Union on Nov. 02, 2018 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. Peterson recently announced his resignation from a tenured position at the University of Toronto (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images)

The influential Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal has backed Canadian psychologist and public speaker Jordan Peterson after the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) ordered Peterson to undergo a “coaching program” so as to harmonize his public speech “regarding professionalism in public statements.”

Titled The Campaign to Re-Educate Jordan Peterson, the Jan. 4 opinion piece signed by the Editorial Board equated the demand to no less than “remedial education.”

The article condensed a long standing series of complaints by the CPO against Peterson into a single sentence, “The College of Psychologists, the profession’s governing body in Ontario, appointed an investigator in March to examine complaints about Mr. Peterson’s comments on Twitter and the popular Joe Rogan podcast.”

The WSJ Editorial Board has defended Jordan Peterson against Re-education.
A file photo of The Wall Street Journal newspaper in the Chicago Board of Trade building in 2007. The Journal’s Editorial Board has criticized an attempt to ‘re-educate’ Jordan Peterson by the College of Psychologists of Ontario. (Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images)


Based on a 56-page cache of correspondence pertaining to the case from the CPO released by Peterson on Twitter on Jan. 5, the summarization appears to have factual merit.

Peterson prefixed the release with the statement, “I have included all relevant correspondence, removing only administrative material duplicated across complains [sic] and redacting only those identifiers re the complainants which are not part of the public record.”

Adding, “The College has been levying accusations and conducting investigations in relationship to me since 2017 (although not once in the twenty years I operated as a clinical psychologist before my rise to public awareness).”


The bundle contains a number of formally filed complaints with the CPO by what appears to be both members of the general public and peer psychologists.

The first example is stamped as received Jan. 5, 2022, where the complainant simply stated that, “Peterson encouraged people to commit suicide on Twitter.”

The reference tweet in question was dated Jan. 3, where Peterson told an unverified account, “You’re free to leave at any point,” in response to a sojourn against the size of the human population.

“Based on the record of human behaviour, we are already overpopulating this small world. Any arguments I have heard for supporting such a large human population completely overlook the huge loss of species and ecosystems resulting from our self-absorbed attention,” the anon stated.

In the documents, Peterson states he was notified of the complaint in February and provided a copy of his response, which defiantly told the CPO to, “Go ahead and investigate,” and, “Take whatever steps you deem necessary.”

“The College should understand clearly that it is not in anyone’s best interest for its entire bureaucratic process of investigation to be leveraged against its constituent professionals in this matter,” he added.

In another complaint dated received Feb. 18, 2022, Peterson was reported to the authorities for speaking out against news that the Ottawa Police intended to use seizure of children as a weapon to disperse the Freedom Convoy trucker occupation protest in Ottawa against the Justin Trudeau minority government’s mandatory vaccination edict underway at the time.

On May 5, 2022 CPO Registrar & Executive Director Rick Morris deployed a bundle of no less than 36 documents supporting action against Peterson by the CPO’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC), which included multiple tweets opposing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) mandatory mask edicts, a Twitter argument between Peterson Gerald Butts, a former personal secretary to Prime Minister Trudeau, and his appearance on Episode 1,769 of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

Further complaints enclosed in the bundle included a lengthy diatribe from what appears to be a fellow psychologist claiming they have their “own concerns about Dr. Peterson’s mental health status” during his session with Rogan.

Also included are a series of documents complaining that Peterson failed to acknowledge the pronouns of an unverified man on Twitter identifying as a transwoman, and another instance where Peterson lamented that actress Ellen Page “had her breasts removed by a criminal physician” after she went public identifying as a transman.

An additional quartet of complaints lambasted Peterson after he remarked, “Sorry. Not beautiful. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that” in response to Yumi Nu, an overweight man identifying as a transwoman, who appeared on the cover of the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition.

‘Language police’

The WSJ Editorial Board stated after summarizing the specific complaints levied against Peterson, “Professional bodies are supposed to ensure that practitioners are competent, not enforce political orthodoxies or act as language police outside the office.” 

Warning, “But that’s the trend in Western medical associations and beyond.”

The Board offered a Canada-specific precedent in support of its supposition, “The Law Society of Ontario had pushed a mandatory diversity pledge for all lawyers until a members’ revolt took over the board and nixed the pledge in 2019.” 

“At the time, an Ontario lawyer objected to the ‘ever-expanding mission to socially engineer the profession’,” they added.

In Peterson’s response to the CPO on the diktat that he submit to a program that would ensure he toes the Party line, he stated a concern that, “The College has noted that given that a complaint of misbehaviour can be levied against Dr Peterson and psychologists in similar positions by anyone anywhere in the world.”

This summarization is correct, based on a CPO document enclosed with the complaint titled Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Complaints and Reports where the question, “Does the College investigate every complaint” is answered.

The CPO stated that, according to Ontario code, “The College must investigate every complaint, with limited exceptions.”

The College goes on to claim that complaints, which are “frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith, moot or an abuse of process” are those which “The College will not investigate.”

In the case of such capricious claims, the license holder will receive both notification that a complaint was filed and that the CPO has deemed it unworthy of further progress.

Peterson surmises in his response, “This produces a moral hazard to the College, and a genuine and nontrivial threat to any psychologist operating on a widespread (say, national and international scale), as it means that the College’s capacity to investigate can in principle be weaponized against any psychologist under College jurisdiction.”

And whether you support or dislike Jordan Peterson, the CPO makes the point on his behalf in one particular document included in Director Morris’s bundle.

In a CPO Memorandum dated Feb. 14, an unidentified staff member noted it had fielded a phone call from a person “who wished to remain anonymous” but “wanted to share concerns with the College about some of Dr. Peterson’s tweets as well as Dr. Peterson’s appearance on ‘The Joe Rogan Podcast’.”

Despite the arbitrary and anonymous nature of the complaint, the investigator decided to formalize it in Peterson’s file because they were “of the view that the caller’s name is not relevant to the allegations and redacting it does not raise any procedural fairness concerns.”