Penguin Random House Canada’s decision to publish a new book by controversial Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson — who has called white privilege a “Marxist lie” — caused employees to break down into tears during a company-wide meeting, according to a new report.
Several workers, who didn’t want to be identified, vented to Vice News about the decision that Peterson’s book, “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life” would be published by the subsidiary of Penguin Random House and released in March 2021.
The announcement was the focus of an emotional town hall with staffers on Monday.
“People were crying in the meeting about how Jordan Peterson has affected their lives,” one employee told Vice News.
Popular among right-wingers, Peterson in 2016 notably spoke out against Canadian law Bill C-16 which added “gender identity or expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act. The law, passed the following year, made it illegal to discriminate based on gender.
At the time, Peterson, 58, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, said he believed the law criminalized free speech. He also refused to use gender-neutral pronouns — a move that was denounced by the university.
“These laws are the first laws that I’ve seen that require people under the threat of legal punishment to employ certain words, to speak a certain way, instead of merely limiting what they’re allowed to say,” Peterson told the Toronto Sun in 2016. “So the law’s put words into our mouths.”
On his YouTube channel, which has 3.2 million subscribers, Peterson has also ripped the theory of white privilege as a “Marxist lie” and has claimed masculinity is under attack.
Penguin employees have flooded the company’s diversity and inclusion community with messages about the decision to publish Peterson’s new book — with only a couple in favor of doing so.
“He is an icon of hate speech and transphobia and the fact that he’s an icon of white supremacy, regardless of the content of his book, I’m not proud to work for a company that publishes him,” an employee who’s a member of the LGBTQ community and attended the town hall told Vice News.
Another worker pointed out that publishing Peterson’s book flew in the face of “anti-racist and allyship things” the company has recently rolled out.
“It just makes all of their previous efforts seem completely performative,” the employee said.
In a statement to the publication, Penguin Random House Canada said it welcome the feedback.
“We announced yesterday that we will publish Jordan Peterson’s new book Beyond Order this coming March. Immediately following the announcement, we held a forum and provided a space for our employees to express their views and offer feedback,” it said.
“Our employees have started an anonymous feedback channel, which we fully support. We are open to hearing our employees’ feedback and answering all of their questions. We remain committed to publishing a range of voices and viewpoints.”
Peterson’s first self-help book, “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos,” has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide.
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