“I can’t believe how this is being spun. It’s mindblowing…” Thus spake Jordan B Peterson, the Canadian psychology professor, as the United Kingdom’s vast and mighty opinion factories – the dark, Satanic mills of William Blake’s fevered imaginings – began to vomit forth their responses to a Channel Four interview which had covered the gender pay gap, free speech and for some reason the neurobiology of lobsters. It took about forty-eight hours for the First Response Team’s idea that wisdom had met waffle and vanquished it to be buried beneath a thousand tons of hysterical shrieking nonsense, in which JBP had apparently perpetrated a live-on-air hate crime and basically incited violence against Channel Four and its blameless, quivering employees. From St George to dragon in two days. Welcome to Britain.
It may not be so obvious to North Americans – we are, after all, small and distant and our time is mostly taken up with tea-based self-medication for the depression occasioned by our cuisine and climate – but Britain’s culture wars are as intense as anything on offer in the New World. We have a thousand-year head-start on our former colonies, and long practice has enabled us to entrench our battle lines at every frontier where such lines are capable of being drawn, from the old classics like class, religion and political affiliation to more recent favourites such as sex, race, profession, which way you voted in the EU Referendum, broadband speeds in your local area and your views on the Atkins diet. Remember that Thomas Hobbes, the seventeenth century philosopher who assumed that society was a hellish and eternal war between everyone and everyone else, was an Englishman: ‘nuff said. Read more