Editorials

Jordan Peterson’s Illness And the Broken Internet

Jordan Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist and famous YouTuber, is ill. His daughter, Mikhalia, herself an internet sensation, has announced that her father, a professor at the University of Toronto, has been away recuperating.

“The last year has been extremely difficult for our family,” she said. “Dad was put on a low dose of a benzodiazepine a few years ago for anxiety following an extremely severe autoimmune reaction to food. He took the medication as prescribed … (L)ast April when my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the dose of the medication was increased.”

Peterson, an outspoken critic against the culture of political correctness in the world, had withdrawal symptoms that played havoc with his health.

Mikhalia Peterson said that her dad “experienced terrible akathisia … a condition where the person feels an incredible, endless, irresistible restlessness, bordering on panic and an inability to sit still.” That caused the Peterson family to seek treatment for the disorder in Russia.

Tabatha Southey, a columnist for Maclean’s, a Canadian news magazine, described Peterson as “the stupid man’s smart person,” going on further to say: “Peterson’s secret sauce is to provide an academic veneer to a lot of old-school rightwing cant, including the notion that most academia is corrupt and evil, and banal self-help patter … (H)e’s very much a cult thing, in every regard. I think he’s a goof, which does not mean he’s not dangerous.”

Peterson isn’t a Catholic believer, but he has been in dialogue with Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles, who also has a big internet following, and has a long series of lectures based on the Bible.

Because Peterson has been so openly critical of what he views as an excessively “p.c.” culture, his illness has had many reactions.

For example, here’s one comment online: “Jordan Peterson is a charlatan, a misogynist, and a grifter who got rich poisoning the minds of young men acting as both the Trojan horse and open gate for alt-right neofascism. The only thing regrettable about his current situation is that there isn’t a Hell for him to go to.”

Whether you agree with Peterson or find his teaching offensive, you must acknowledge that some of the reactions to his sickness and near-death are horrifying.

The internet provides a forum where a person can freely say whatever he or she wants regardless of the consequences.

But you cannot and should not wish ill or death — or in some cases the eternal death of hell. How can the internet change? How can the internet be a more peaceful place? Simply put, by being more Christian, by following the Lord’s command to “do unto others as you would want done unto you.”

Don’t rejoice over the illness of others, even if you disagree with them. “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”

Pray that the internet may grow to become a place of charity.

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