Political correctness: a force for good? A Munk Debate

The resolution? “What you call political correctness, I call progress…”

On May 18th, the redoubtable Stephen Fry (self-admitted soft leftie) and I debated the duo of academic, author and radio host Michael Eric Dyson ( and blogger/author Michelle Goldberg ( A press release describing the debate can be found here:

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How did the audience respond? Results can be found here:


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Written by Jordan B Peterson

Dr. Jordan B Peterson is a professor and clinical psychologist. The videos are derived from two sources: 1. His UToronto courses Maps of Meaning (which describes how values, including beliefs about good and evil, regulate emotion and motivation); and Personality & Its Transformations (which describes psychological theories from Eliade, Jung, Freud, Rogers, Gray, Luria, Sokolov, Vinogradova, Panksepp, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Solzhenitsyn as well as psychometric models such as the Big Five). 2. His public lectures on topics of general psychological relevance, including the meaning of music, the significance of hero mythology, and the structure of the world as represented in religion.


  1. Person in Debate: "I don't think someone's ideas should be dismissed just because they're white."

    Michael Dyson: "The centripetal obfuscation of your oppressive inquiry relegates your misogynistic antiquated rhetoric to a corollary in the patriarchal deconstruction of abject political delimitation."

  2. Holy shit dude. I wish someone would count the amount of times this dude made an argument based entirely in race.

    Him calling Peterson an angry white man and that his inherent white privilege hinders his views is the censorship we speak of.

  3. The thing I find so difficult about this debate is that I find it incredibly hard not to empathise with the points that Goldberg and Dyson are making. But I also feel that is because they are being made so vaguely and vacuously that they could almost mean anything. This made it really difficult to have a debate as no one could really respond coherently to anyone else's ideas.

    I feel like Dyson and Goldberg tried very hard to not see the points that Fry and Peterson were making and at times tried to openly misdirect, feign ignorance or even mischaracterise them. They very much didn't want to admit that all four of them were on the same side in terms of striving towards unity and some semblance of equality. The thing is, I think that Fry and Peterson have a much better idea of how this can be achieved. I think that Michelle and Eric tried very hard not to understand that.

    Also, insulting someone in the middle of a debate is just unprofessional and inappropriate.

  4. When watching a debate, it is best to lend an ear to both sides and understand their reasons for taking their stances. We might learn something more than who is right.
    Or, if you want, you can tune both sides out, and learn how they talk, who does it better, how they try to influence their audiences.

  5. Stephen Fry stole the show, as I've always said most injustice is from ignorance of the other persons humanity – we are all one species in a combined struggle and that should be the priority not who is wrong and right, but what is wrong or right in the treatment of each other. stop with the division and follow the vision of a brighter future. If we are ever going to be able to get to the stars and advance our global civilization we must put our differences aside and work together towards a mutual goal of progression, rather than regression. The debate is useful but without action it is useless. People of the world need to switch their thoughts to the big picture that we are all apart of…

  6. i just watched this video all the way through, editing out the intro, twice. i'm now a HUGE fan of Michael Eric Dyson. political correctness didn't need to be discussed for that to occur.

  7. Censorship and violence… that's what Goldberg said 2 years ago was when the left had gone too far… Well now we have exactly that on all leftist social media and the BLM protests in Democrat states. Will she stand up now and say, yes, they've gone too far!

  8. I like how when Michelle and Michael speak, you can see both Jordan and Stephen looking at then, listening intently to what they're saying, so they understand fully what their opponent is trying to say and what point they're making. Yet when Jordan and Stephen are talking, Michelle is either looking at her notes or the audience and Michael is just staring into space rocking back and forth. There's such respect about the debate from one side, and a lack of repsect about the debate on the other.

  9. Did anyone else notice that they don't have a single conservative on that stage? I find it interesting to see classic liberals and centrists debate against progressives, especially on this topic.

  10. While listening to this, I couldn't help wondering if Steven Fry was thinking of Gordon Deitrich. Gordon was a character played by Steven in the movie "V for Vendetta" who was ultimately arrested and killed for having homoerotic art and a Quran. In this future society, individual thought and speech were incredibly restricted by the neo-fascist government. The dialogue in the film holds parallels to what I often hear in the argument in favor of political correctness.

  11. Holy crap Dyson lives up to his namesake of the vacuum…sucks up crap and collects it in a clean organized manner. Basically articulates foolishness, adds sprinkling of weak attempts at comedy and presents it with unnecessarily added complexity. Very useful for organizing the refuse to be easily THROWN AWAY.

  12. I love how once Dyson started asking about the "recent" far right wing events and Peterson, then listed off tons of examples, and Dyson just kept going and Peterson was just done with him, he put his head down and jus thought "none of this had anything to do with the debate." lol

  13. I invite that black guy to visit a indigenous white community facing current horrors of poverty, drug abuse, and mental health issues( suicide). Then that slavery BS, bro you weren't a slave you didnt experience it. I'm sure the slaves where happy not to be slaves anymore when they where freed. You dont need high level skills to live. They could hunt, fish, farm. Are they going to become economic masterminds making tons of money after being freed for a week from slavery no. But I think their quality of life was better and where generally happier. Was they're lots of racism yes of course . Is there still racism sadly yes. Multiracial and multicultural nations will probably always have that. World is not perfect nor will it ever be. Be tolerant, forgive your haters and yourself, and most of all work hard to achieve your dreams.

  14. Like a lot of things, it depends on context. "
    "Political correctness" that focuses on highlighting hidden biases and racism is good.
    Republicon political correctness that is merely politicking and focuses on division for political gain is not so good…

  15. Halfway through the debate I realized that the Pro team was mostly not even getting close to the actual Topic at hand.
    They were just arguing societal conditioning and exploitation.
    And to some extent Jordan Peterson did not do a great job at staying on the topic either.
    I found only Stephen Fry to be even broaching the subject of Political Correctness.

  16. The thing is, I wouldn't say that Peterson or Fry are particularly right leaning. Shame the other side went for the attack and swallowed a thesaurus, rather than engage in an intellectual debate. Brevity is the soul of wit Mr Dyson.

  17. I find the ending statements by Dyson and Goldberg really telling in the context of the debate as a whole, Peterson is held to account more for what he said than 99.999% of the intellectuals out there but Dyson still tries to slander him on this, then Goldberg re-states her suggestion for people to check out the vice interview which was proved later on to be selectively edited in order to intentionally slander Dr. Peterson.

  18. The very fact that man, Michael Eric Dyson, can stand up and make a claim that political incorrectness didn't exist before the ending of slavery in the west belies his intellect and outlines his ignorance. How conceited, and rooted in ones own identity and skin color one must be to ignore the entirety of the rich history that we as humanity have. It is a sad life he must be living, cast by himself as the supporting character to America's protagonist. Little did he know, he was given the opportunity to live a different role and is too blinded by his so called "inherited" injustices to see that. Kudos to Jordan for keeping calm after the face slap and several misquotations that occurred. Never have I seen a formal debate with so much blatant misinformation and utter laziness. The reason it is so grossly abhorrent is that the finer points made by the two opponents to him are no longer considered. Whats on our minds is "did he really say that" to which unfortunately for Michelle, the answer was quite literally and unmistakably NO. That said, I very much appreciated the thought that Stephen brought to our attention near the end that everyone ought not act as if their mind was made up during the debate, and should hold an honest and open discussion on the topic at hand. Jordan comes across as a mind made up, and so too do his opponents. One distinction I must make though is my impression of Jordan is that if evidence to the contrary of his belief were presented, his mind could be changed. I most definitely got this impression from Stephen. I did not get this impression from their opponents, and I am NOT IMPRESSED.

    These are my opinions aside from the very specifically stated facts. I have done the PROPER research before posting any claims of matters of fact. If I have made any mistake, please address it in response and I will be happy to review it.

  19. Is the statement “…mean mad white man…” racist and politically correct to level at opposing debater at a ‘respectable’ public debate about political correctness by the affirmative side? ?

  20. I’ve been on a Peterson kick lately, but of all the videos I’ve watched I feel like this is his weakest. He sounds upset, and while I agree with his arguments, I get the feeling that someone who hasn’t been introduced to his ideas previously would not have been interested in what he had to say.

    I thought Stephen Fry was the stand out in this debate, he had very smart well-rounded things to say. And it was a pleasure to listen to him despite my track record of not usually agreeing with him.

    I think the debate as a whole though goes a long way to display that political correctness is not really about political correctness. It seems to be a lot more about a handful of other issues that people have trouble discussing and agreeing on, that get grouped together in this one singular idea of how you talk to and address people.

    I did find a particular distain for what Dyson said about how voices had been suppressed for hundreds of years, and they are unable to speak or be heard. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to find that while history is important and it does matter, what matters much more are the people living today. My ancestors may have suppressed voices of minorities, they may have not. At the time there was a culture built up around the majority, which is the case in any place you go. But I myself do not personally feel responsible for what my ancestors have done much less what my dad has done or what my granddad has done. I have personal responsibility of my own actions and my own voice. I don’t need to overcompensate for what others in my family have done, I need to be the truest version of myself possible, and as a human being that means being virtuous, truthful, fair, and logical.