Canadian self-help author Jordan Peterson returned to Twitter on Friday under Elon Musk’s reign (along with comedian Kathy Griffin and conservative satire site The Babylon Bee).
Griffin had been permanently suspended from Twitter after changing her account name and profile picture to imitate Musk’s profile. Peterson and The Babylon Bee had been suspended before Musk’s takeover, for violating Twitter’s hateful conduct policies, after posting tweets that targeted trans people. Both could have been reinstated if the offensive tweets had not been deleted.
Peterson left Twitter following his Tweet targeting Elliot Page. Peterson called Page, who was transgender by his deadname and wrote: “Remember when Pride was a sin?” Ellen Page recently had her breasts surgically removed by a physician who was a criminal. The offending tweet resulted in Peterson’s suspension.
Peterson ended up posting a lengthy video response on YouTube and Instagram, in which he ranted about being suspended from Twitter, claimed to be hopelessly confused by Page’s name (his name is Elliot), stated he would “rather die” than delete the tweet, and delivered the now-infamous line: “Up yours, woke moralists. We’ll see who cancels who!”
Peterson posted the one-liner hours after returning from the site. It quickly became a favorite meme.
Peterson demanded, via Twitter, an unorthodox request to Elon Musk. This was perhaps because Peterson gets tired of being harassed. Peterson has consistently been a fierce advocate for free speech, describing it as the “foundation of Western civilization.”
In an ironic twist, Peterson’s tweet essentially advocated for a form of censorship against individuals who, for whatever reason, do not want to post under their real names.
Peterson doubled down on his request, despite obvious hypocrisy.
Anonymity has always been integral to internet culture, as well as the notion of free speech; the American Civil Liberties Union describes online anonymity as a “fundamental component” of the right to freedom of speech.
Indeed, Peterson’s suggestion was so foolish that even former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey swooped in to correct the record.
Meanwhile, Twitter users remained confused by Musk’s new “freedom of speech” approach, as his tweet announcing the new policy only invited further questions, and Musk has yet to clarify.
Although it is not clear how the site will enforce freedom of speech on the site, Musk may at the very least maintain anonymity.