Jordan Peterson book causes row among Penguin Random House staff: ‘I’m not proud to work for a company that publishes him’

Controversial Canadian psychologist has amassed a substantial far-right following

Annabel Nugent
Wednesday 25 November 2020 09:44 GMT
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Penguin Random House Canada staff members have criticised the company’s decision to publish a new book by controversial psychologist Jordan Peterson.

On Monday (23 November), the publishing house announced that it would be releasing Peterson’s forthcoming book Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life. In the UK, the book will be published by Penguin Press, a subsidiary of the Penguin Random House conglomerate.

As reported by Vice, a recent town hall meeting at the company saw several employees confront management about its decision to publish the book.

The 56-year-old Canadian author and professor of psychology is a hugely controversial figure. Peterson has attracted a substantial far-right following, having styled himself as an opponent of so-called political correctness.

One town hall attendee told Vice: “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.”

The Canadian clinical psychologist and university professor has become hugely popular for his 'anti-PC' views and is beloved of many on the alt-right. He's appealing for a number of reasons, most of them connected to the left-wing people he opposes
The Canadian clinical psychologist and university professor has become hugely popular for his 'anti-PC' views and is beloved of many on the alt-right. He's appealing for a number of reasons, most of them connected to the left-wing people he opposes

Another claimed that “people were crying in the meeting about how Jordan Peterson has affected their lives”.

A third told the publication that the company’s decision to publish Peterson’s work goes against its anti-racist and inclusion initiatives, rendering them “completely performative”.

Multiple employees also said that they believed the company had been intentionally secretive about publishing Peterson’s book. One staff member claimed that the title did not appear in an internal database that normally includes all future releases.

“I felt it was deliberately hidden and dropped on us once it was too late to change course,” said one staff member. They suggested that if workers had known of the decision earlier, they could have considered a walkout in the same vein that Hachette employees had done when the publisher announced it would be releasing Woody Allen’s memoir.

In a statement issued to Vice, Penguin Random House Canada said that it remains “committed to publishing a range of voices and viewpoints”.

The statement read: “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.”

The Independent has contacted Penguin Random House Canada for comment.

Peterson was fairly unknown until 2016 when he posted a lecture to YouTube declaring that he would not use gender-neutral pronouns for transgender students at the University of Toronto. In the video, he also condemned Bill C-16, a legislation that increased protection for trans and non-binary Canadians.

He quickly became an alt-right figurehead and has since amassed 3.26 million subscribers on his YouTube channel where he posts videos on a number of topics, including his take on why white privilege is a myth.

Peterson has published a number of books. According to Vice, his previous novel 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos sold over 5 million copies worldwide. 

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