Last week something insignificant occurred that may in future assume greater importance. Just like the defenestration of Prague, which started the Thirty Years War, or the release of Led Zeppelin’s first album, it could take years before the relevance of what happened becomes apparent.
The event was an interview between Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, and Cathy Newman, a star of television current affairs in Britain. To say that the interview was a disaster for Newman is to understate the case. A Tyrannosaurus Rex savaging a poodle would be a better description.
The significance of the interview is that a ventriloquist of the feminist establishment was entirely vanquished by the simple facts and logical coherence that Peterson used to present his case. At one stage, Newman lost the power of speech, such was the persuasive force of Peterson’s arguments. It was a tour de force of logical persuasion.
Every feminist argument that Newman used to denigrate, belittle or distort Peterson’s views – the usual grab bag of fallacious nonsense – backfired spectacularly. We saw the intellectual emptiness at the heart of third-wave feminism. It wasn’t just that oxygen was taken from feminism’s claim to intellectual credibility. It was that the shrieking, ranting monster that feminism has become was shown to be nothing but a deflated bag of wind.
Newman used the usual feminist slogans, distorted statistics and ad hominem arguments, but the propaganda didn’t work.
The question is why did the propaganda not work this time when it’s worked for decades? The answer is the perfect smugness of the feminist establishment. And the role of propaganda in limiting your worldview and your ability to think. What John Stuart Mill said was the right of individuals to hear different opinions so that you don’t succumb to your own propaganda.
One definition of propaganda is simply telling a story from only one perspective. It’s similar to allowing one witness to a car accident give evidence. Other testimony is either excluded or ridiculed. Anyone listening to the ABC will know exactly what I mean. Every state-run-media outlet over the last four or five decades has conformed to this pattern. The ABC in Australia, the BBC in Britain and PBS in America have all operated like perfect propaganda channels.
The propaganda that is ever-present in state-run-media organisations is almost totalitarian because officially sanctioned views are pervasive across the drama, history, culture, entertainment and news departments. Even the self-described radical comedians utter politically correct platitudes. Goebbels said that the best propaganda is not noticed. It’s the background noise of a culture. For propaganda to work, it has to be normalised and ubiquitous. An actress in a sitcom casually utters a remark about the gender pay gap. A sports presenter says he can never remember it being so hot. On the breakfast show, someone makes a snide comment about the intelligence of poor white Americans.
Or, on a current affairs show, a clever but unintelligent interviewer, one armed with a scripture of politically correct answers, ridicules anyone with a different view. The propaganda is invisible and relentless. And it works. For a while.
The imposture was dealt its first, mortal blow last week. Let’s hope it’s not the last.
Newman and Channel Four’s mistake was to believe their own propaganda. Living in an echo chamber – they never heard, or even knew, that there were other valid opinions. And they tried to use one of the oldest tricks in the book – get a stupid representative of a view you don’t like and ridicule both the person and their unsavoury opinions. You can then claim, with a straight face, that alternative views have been aired. The unfortunate part for Channel Four is that they believed the lies about Peterson propagated by a hostile left-wing media. Instead of an innocent abroad, a dull-witted professor with easily refuted idiot opinions about lobsters, they had the Trojan horse of the master communicator and highly intelligent Peterson taking apart the epistemology of the feminist establishment.
It was wonderful to watch. The truth always outs, even if it takes decades.
Illustration: Channel 4/YouTube.
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