Many conservatives know that Dr. Jordan Peterson, the Toronto-based psychology professor, rose to prominence a few years ago because he refused to bend the knee to the trans-pronoun lobby.
In 2016, Peterson outspokenly opposed Bill C-16, at the time a proposed law in Canada that prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, and which, some argued, would have extended criminal hate speech provisions to those who refused to use alternative pronouns.
At the time, Peterson told the BBC, “I’ve studied authoritarianism for a very long time – for 40 years – and they’re started by people’s attempts to control the ideological and linguistic territory. There’s no way I’m going to use words made up by people who are doing that – not a chance.”
“If the standard transsexual person wants to be regarded as he or she, my sense is I’ll address you according to the part that you appear to be playing,” he added.
Recently, in California of all places, a court was persuaded by Peterson’s thinking.
On Friday, a state appellate court unanimously struck down a 2017 California law requiring healthcare workers in long-term care facilities to use the preferred pronoun of residents.
“Content-based laws are presumptively unconstitutional,” Judge Elena Duarte wrote in an opinion backed by two other judges, according to PJMedia.com.
“The pronoun provision at issue here tests the limits of the government’s authority to restrict pure speech that, while potentially offensive or harassing to the listener, does not necessarily create a hostile environment.”
In the opinion, the judge noted that the law “compels long-term care facility staff to alter the message they would prefer to convey, either by hosting a message as required by the resident or by refraining from using pronouns at all.
Yet the Constitution’s free speech clause “protects a wide variety of speech a listener may find offensive, including insulting speech based on race, national origin, or religious beliefs.”
“If an employee’s speech repeatedly and willfully misgenders a long-term care facility resident, the speech is criminalized” under California law, Duarte maintained.
The court rejected state claims that staff who disagreed could just stay quiet.
“For purposes of the First Amendment, there is no difference between a law compelling an employee to utter a resident’s preferred pronoun and prohibiting an employee from uttering a pronoun the resident does not prefer,” the court ruled.
“We recognize that misgendering may be disrespectful, discourteous, and insulting, and used as an inartful way to express an ideological disagreement with another person’s expressed gender identity. But the First Amendment does not protect only speech that inoffensively and artfully articulates a person’s point of view,” the judge wrote.
According to Liberty Counsel, an Orlando-based public interest law firm that specializes in religious freedom cases, noted that violations of California’s law could be prosecuted as misdemeanors, those convicted could face 180 days in jail and a $2,500 fine.
In a statement, Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver said, “No person should ever be forced to speak a message prescribed by the government, especially when the purpose is to support an ideology that conflicts with reality. The First Amendment guarantees the right to speak and the right not to speak.”
PJMedia.com noted that there is at least one list that identifies 78 different pronouns, including words such as zie, sie, ey, ve, and tey for “he” or “she,” and zim, sie, em, ver, and ter for “him” or “her.”
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