The ABC, for all its tax-voracious ‘local content’, loves showing British programmes – which is just as well because with some vulgar or offensive exceptions they’re generally much better produced than anything the ABC can manage, and a few of them, such as the historical and Austenian classics and the detective mysteries, are very good indeed. The latter can be gripping – as gripping as another piece of recent British TV, one that the ABC has so far shown no inclination to run.
It’s a half-hour interview, and conservatives, politicians especially, should keep it and watch it from time to time as a revelation of how an intelligent, articulate and polite non-leftist of ordered and logical mind can demolish an aggressive, presumptuous and over-confident feminist interviewer.
Their encounter, on Britain’s ultra-PC Channel 4, should be of encouragement to everyone who despairs of the hostile and condescending treatment of conservatives by leftist television inquisitors. Douglas Murray has excerpts on The Spectator Coffee House.
The interviewer, Cathy Newman, is a Leigh Sales with brains (if an Oxford first in English indicates brains). Her intended victim, Jordan Peterson, is a Canadian clinical and academic psychologist, who first made his way into the bad books of the Left when he declined to use the silly new pronouns leftists have thought up to avoid calling ‘trans’ individuals ‘he’ or ‘she’. This was at some risk to his career and could yet place him in breach of Canadian law.
Many people in Australia will have seen the interview by now. It’s great fun, though not for the interviewer, who clearly set out to show her polemical and moral superiority to what she probably thought of as a right-wing bigot. But like so many on the Left, she isn’t as clever as she thinks she is, and posture, pout and browbeat as she will, her repertoire of feminist mantras regarding, inter alia, patriarchy and the ‘gender pay gap’, are no match for Peterson’s rational responses.
Ineptitude in any field is of course not a feminist failing, and like our own Julia Gillard before her, Cathy Newman blames her lamentable performance on ‘misogyny’. Presumably she means misogynists ‘perceive’ her to have had the worst of the encounter. She has also, allegedly, been the target of ‘vicious abuse’ and Channel 4 has called in ‘security specialists’. Since vicious abuse and the Left are not exactly strangers to each other, that sounds like a red herring cooked up to deflect attention from the real story.
Ephemeral as TV interviews usually are, this one will endure as a textbook example of the television tactics of the Left and of the bias we are always being told by the ABC and its apologists that television journalists do not display. Cathy Newman’s technique, her not even pretending to appear impartial, is a vindication for everyone who’s ever known the sheer banging-your-head-against-the-wall frustration of being informed by ABC hierarchs, with patronising patience as though they’re dealing with a particularly obtuse child, that, no, Q&A is not stacked against conservatives and that Tony Jones’s frequent interruptions of the token conservative on the panel are not to shut down unwelcome opinions or give some leftist windbag more haranguing space but merely to ‘keep the conversation moving’.
The interview illustrates once more that the Left can’t cope with debate. Leftists do not counter argument with argument but with assertions, abuse, censorship and, if all else fails, violence. All these are manifestations of the same intolerance. It might be hard to picture Tony Jones wearing a death’s head mask and screaming eco-slogans in an Adani protest or Virginia Trioli dressed as a vagina at a women’s march, but that’s only because they and the mobs are at different points on the Left’s spectrum of reactions to things it disagrees with. Leftist television journalists hold the same opinions as street mobs but express them with more restraint.
Silence too is a weapon for leftist journalists. Never report anything good about something you don’t like. That nuclear power can be wholly beneficial, that Margaret Court is a woman of courage, that Donald Trump is the most gay-friendly president the United States has ever had are the sort of facts you’ll never hear in the leftist media. Perhaps the ABC and Fairfax should adopt the motto of the New York Times, ‘All the news that’s fit to print’ and amend it to ‘All the news that fits the narrative’ (as indeed should the contemporary NYT itself).
The kind of ‘debate’ leftists like is one in which harmony of ideas is never disturbed by vulgar disagreement about anything important. There can be polite little divergences over details – whether, for example, refusal to bake a gay wedding cake should lead to an exemplary fine, a course in diversity awareness, prison, permanent disqualification from all commercial activity, or all four together – but unanimity should prevail overall.
That’s why leftists love forums of themselves – writers’ festivals, ‘comedy’ festivals and festivals of ‘dangerous ideas’, where the only thing dangerous is not the ‘ideas’ – the hackneyed condemnations of ‘Islamophobia’, white male privilege or of Israel not abolishing itself – but the possibility that the smouldering embers from the smoking ceremony might set the auditorium on fire during a period of somnolence induced by the participants’ contented meditation on their own virtue.
Leftists love teaching in schools and universities because there they have a captive audience that can’t or won’t answer back if it hopes to pass the course. On these tabulae rasae the didactic leftist can imprint his vision of the world. If that vision is a bit too radical for public opinion, leftists adopt the Trojan horse approach and (this is what got ‘Safe Schools’ government funding) pretend they’re teaching something more acceptable, such as not to be a bully, when the real lesson is that ‘girls’ can have penises. Education as part of ‘overseas aid’ is a leftist playground. It ought to be more widely known that our Department of Foreign Affairs uses taxpayer-funded development programmes designed to bring economic benefit to poorer countries to foist feminist schemes of ‘women’s empowerment’ and ‘gender quotas’ onto societies of conventional and Christian social and marital traditions.
So how will the Left receive Professor Peterson when he comes to Australia in March? Which of its tactics will it deploy against him? Televisual sneering, media silence, howling mobs, marxi-fascist attempts to smash up his meetings? The safe bet is all of them.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $20 for 10 issues