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Jordan Peterson says criminalizing offensive speech is a cure 'so much more worse than the disease
Psychology professor Jordan Peterson says that it's a concerning notion to criminalize offensive speech. (Image source: Facebook video screenshot)

Jordan Peterson says criminalizing offensive speech is a cure 'so much more worse than the disease

Jordan Peterson, best-selling author and psychology college professor, has condemned the assault on free speech once again.

During a Thursday appearance on "BBC Question Time," the Canadian-born Peterson said that putting a muzzle on "offensive speech" is a terrifying notion with terrifying aftereffects.

What are the details?

During the segment, Peterson pointed to the United Kingdom's attempt to crack down on "offensive speech" by criminalizing such speech.

"I know in Scotland, the police had put up advertisements in the tube, encouraging people to turn people in for offensive behavior online," Peterson began, "and it seems to me, for example, if you are concerned about knife crime, then maybe one of the things you don't want to do is have your police investigating offensive speech."

Peterson went on to explain that censoring people's freedom of expression — in stifling their ability to speak frankly — is only going to get worse at the rate it's progressing these days.

"One of the things I do see happening in the U.K. — as an outsider — that's really quite terrifying to me is that there are increasing restrictions put on people's ability to speak forthrightly," he explained, "and that the consequence of that restriction and the criminalization of what hypothetically constitutes offensive speech is going to be a cure that's so much more worse than the disease that we can hardly imagine it.

"It's a dreadful thing to see that happening in the U.K.," Peterson added. "People say things that are reprehensible all the time, but we can't always agree on what they are — but to start to criminalize that—" Peterson trailed off.

What about using words to incite a crime?

"BBC Question Time" host David Dimbleby interrupted and asked Peterson, "Are you saying nothing that anybody says should ever be counted as a crime?"

Peterson answered that on occasion — such as inciting a crime — words, should count as a crime, but otherwise, the concept gets too muddled.

"Well, there's incitement to crime," Peterson answered. "That should be counted as a crime and has been for a very long time in British common law tradition, but other than that, you should be very careful about what you regulate as speech. Who is going to regulate it? Who is going to define 'hate'? That's the real issue. It's not that there's not hate — there's plenty of it. The question is, who defines hate and how is it prosecuted?"

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